On Tuesday, June 2nd, a virtual action to protest against racism and police brutality called Blackout Tuesday, took place on various social media platforms including Twitter and Instagram. The action was organized as a way to acknowledge and bring change in policies in the wake of the death of George Floyd. The social media movement has influenced organizations, brands, the music industry, and individuals all across the world to post black squares with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter to collectively support the Black community.
Blackout Tuesday was an initiative to go silent on social media in hopes of individuals to reflect on current events and also to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The social media movement was originally established by members of the music industry as the industry has profited off from black art and culture. Despite the virtual movement originating from the music industry, it spread to all aspects of social media.
On Tuesday, particularly on Instagram, feeds were swarmed with black tiles. Although the image was seen by many as a sign of solidarity, others saw it as an act of silencing voices. Many people voiced out how the black tiles were only drowning out crucial information. Not only that, but those who were against Blackout Tuesday were not pleased by the silencing because silence is not what the Black Lives Matter movement is about.
Users on various platforms further voiced out not to use the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter because people would not be able to find important information regarding protests, fundraising efforts, and overall current events.
With that in mind, some have also said that Tuesday was not the most favorable day to go offline as it was when primary elections were taking place in nine states. Instead of posting black squares, activists have encouraged people to donate to bail funds or other nonprofit efforts and to also sign petitions that are aimed at bringing justice to the families hurt by police brutality and helping protesters.
Others including the network Nickelodeon, went off air for eight minutes and forty-six seconds which was the same amount of time that police officer, Derek Chauvin, had his knee on top of George Floyd’s neck, that ultimately led to his death.
The network stopped its programming to show their blacked out commercial with Floyd’s words “I Can’t Breathe” on it. Many have praised Nickelodeon for airing the commercial, while others have said that it would frighten children. Regardless, the network stood its ground and acknowledged how they must use their platform in order to make sure voices are heard.
That being said, although Blackout Tuesday had its good intentions of raising awareness and remembering victims of police violence on social media, it was met with backlash since it kept out vital information shared under the Black Lives Matter hashtag. The social media movement has become a teachable moment for many as activists noted that black tiles will not be a long-term solution towards ending police brutality and ultimately systemic racism in the United States.