“Blackout Tuesday” Protest Met With Mixed Reactions

Matt Bigler
June 02, 2020 - 12:14 pm

    Today is being labeled "Blackout Tuesday" by the music industry, which has vowed to shut down all normal business operations for 24 hours in response to the death of George Floyd. But as the movement has spread on social media it is receiving mixed responses from musicians and activists. 

    “A day when no one in the music industry is going to work. But it’s about so much more than just not showing up to work,” says violinist Lindsey Stirling. “This is a chance to learn and to come up with ideas. And I am the first to admit that I need to be taught… I am ready to be a student.”

    The movement was started by Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas, two black women and executives at Atlantic Records with the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused, with the intention of taking a day off of work to to reflect, learn and find ways to create progress against racism. 

    But as many high profile artists, musicians, celebrities and labels began posting nothing but a black square on social media for #BlackOutTuesday, some are worried the message will be lost and may do more harm than good.

    “If we all get on our instagram and everything is black then we are not talking about the things that matter,” says activist Brittany Packnett Cunningham in a video posted to Instagram. She has urged black people to continue posting about their thoughts and their lives, and is asking non-black people who want to support the black community to amplify black voices rather than stay silent. 

    Activists have also urged people not to use #BlackLivesMatter on Blackout Tuesday posts to avoid flooding the hashtag with black squares and burying useful information and resources.

    “Social media is one of the best ways we have of spreading information very quickly about what’s going on during the protests. So being silent on a social media platform is very very counter-productive,” says twitter user @ughaechan. “This movement is giving people a reason to be silent during a time where it’s very very key to be vocal.”

    Comedian Phoebe Robinson said on Instagram that people should not forget that pausing normal social media use is only one part of the original movement’s intent. “Blacking out in ‘solidarity’ does not help if actual action is not taken.”

    By Tuesday afternoon the #BlackoutTuesday hashtag had been used 22.2 million times on Instagram.