Thousands of Black Lives Matter allies, brands, and organizations have united on Tuesday, June 2 in honor of "Blackout Tuesday." The movement gained traction when two well-known music executives, Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, decided to pause all business operations in observation of the inequality America's Black population faces on a daily basis.
Those participating in the movement are encouraged to upload black square images to Instagram, as a moment of silence for those who have lost their lives to police brutality. Many are finding, however, that the numerous Blackout Tuesday posts have muted the Black Lives Matter movement on social media. Here's what you should know about participating in the movement, if you choose to do so.
How is Blackout Tuesday muting Black Lives Matter?
Although the message behind Blackout Tuesday means well, the posts have actually brought more harm than good to the antiracist movement. According to CNN, posting a blank image with popular hashtags such as #BlackLivesMatter prevents users from seeing critical information regarding protests, news updates, and information. The blank black images essentially clog up those channels and prevent people from monitoring and searching those hashtags.
Hashtags are essentially used to create channels for social media users to find content that falls under that label. With hundreds of black squares flooding the channel, the Black Lives Matter movement is essentially muted. Therefore, participants are encouraged to use the #BlackoutTuesday hashtag, and nothing else.
"It has come to my attention that many allies are using #BlackLivesMatter hashtag w black image on insta. We know that’s it no intent to harm but to be frank, this essentially does harm the message. We use hashtag to keep ppl updated. PLS stop using the hashtag for black images!!" Twitter user and mental health advocate Kenidra Woods tweeted. Her tweet included a video scroll showing results under the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, which solely includes plain black squares.
Blackout Tuesday is also facing tremendous skepticism.
Although uniting over an important cause such as Black Lives Matter is absolutely fantastic (and much-needed) many have criticized the Blackout Tuesday movement for pausing Black Lives Matter advocacy when it's needed most, and for being a halfway attempt at advocating for the Black Lives Matter movement.
"I just really think this is the time to push as hard as ever. i don’t think the movement has ever been this powerful. we don’t need to slow it down by posting nothing. we need to spread info and be as loud as ever," rappper Lil Nas X tweeted,
Supermodel Emily Ratajkowski also spoke up, and said: "So easy to post a black square. I’m seeing people who haven’t posted in YEARS come on to post a black square. Your silence was embarrassing and now you can feel good about yourself while doing the bare minimum. This is the worst kind of virtual signaling."
Needless to say, if you'd like to make a difference advocating for antiracist efforts, there are several organizations seeking donations and upcoming protests you can attend. If you'd like to participate in Blackout Tuesday, that is fine, but simply use the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday, and nothing else.
If you are looking for specific ways to donate your time or money to Black Lives Matter and other antiracist organizations, we have created a list of resources to get you started.