You may be wondering why your social media feeds have been engulfed by black squares.
What Blackout Tuesday is? – and why people were posting black squares on socials.
Well, the posts were intended to show solidarity with Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the US; as a way of expressing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests that have swept the US after the death of George Floyd.
The idea of Blackout Tuesday:
The idea was to fill Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with black squares, freeing up the time usually dedicated to social media for people to educate themselves on the Black Lives Matter movement. Organizers said they wanted Tuesday to be a “a day to disconnect from work and reconnect with their community” through “an urgent step of action to provoke accountability and change”.
Why celebrities were posting black squares online:
George Floyd, a 46-year-old bouncer, was killed on Monday May 25 by Derek Chauvin, a police officer, who pressed his knee into Mr. Floyd’s neck until he died while other police officers watched. Footage of the killing, taken by a bystander, showed Floyd lying face down and handcuffed, groaning for help and repeatedly saying, “please, I can’t breathe,” before becoming motionless.
Chauvin, had his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in total and two minutes and 53 seconds after Mr. Floyd was unresponsive, according to a criminal complaint that was released by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
The event has restored the Black Lives Matter movement at the forefront of the news agenda.
A host of well-known celebrities have posted black squares on their social media accounts to their millions of followers. From athletes, to artists and media houses and record labels as well.
Taking to Instagram on Sunday, Rihanna spoke of the “devastation, anger [and] sadness” she has experienced over the last week. “Watching my people get murdered and lynched day after day pushed me to a heavy place in my heart,” she wrote. Rihanna also added that her Fenty beauty label would not conduct any business on Tuesday.
Beyoncé filmed an Instagram video urging fans to sign a petition seeking “justice for George Floyd”. “We all witnessed his murder in broad daylight…We’re broken and we’re disgusted. We cannot normalize this pain”.
What is Black Lives Matter?
The latest deaths have led to a resurgence in the “Black Lives Matter” movement, founded in 2013, initially as a social media hashtag before becoming a protest movement, after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American teenager Trayvon Martin, the previous year. According to their website, the BLM mission is to “eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.”
TV, music labels and corporations’ contribution to the movement:
At 11am the ITV daytime show went dark, showing a black screen with the words “Black Lives Matter” in white lettering.
Major labels have joined other music industry groups and artists in pledging the blackout. Organizers for The Show Must Be Paused project called for business to halt on Tuesday, as the US continues to be gripped by unrest.
Using the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused, Thomas and Agyemang called for members of the music industry to “take a beat for an honest reflective, and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the black community.” The music industry observed a day-long “blackout” on Tuesday, in response to George Floyd’s death last week. All three major record labels shared a message on social media promising “a day to disconnect from work and reconnect with our community”.
Many record labels, radio stations, and musicians have since shared posts on social media under the #TheShowMustBePaused hashtag and expressed solidarity with the black community. Stations such as iHeart radio and NBC Entertainment have been vocal about the Black Out Tuesday cause.
As anger spread through the music community, a message spread on social media calling on the industry to “take an urgent step of action to provoke accountability and change”.
“As gatekeepers of the culture, it’s our responsibility to not only come together to celebrate the wins, but also hold each other up during loss,” reads the statement, which circulated under the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused. Among those reposting the message were Warner Music Group, Sony/ATV, Universal Music, Motown, Capitol Records, British label Dirty Hit, Eminem’s Shady Records and legendary producer Quincy Jones.
“We stand together with the black community against all forms of racism, bigotry, and violence,” said Columbia Records, which is home to Beyoncé, Pharrell Williams, Lil Nas X, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Adele.
“Now, more than ever, we must use our voices to speak up and challenge the injustices all around us.” Some record labels have promised not to release new music this week.
Radio stations and TV channels have changed their programmes to mark “Blackout Tuesday”, reflecting on George Floyd’s death in police custody.
BBC Radio 1Xtra is hosting a series of discussions and debates in support of the black community, with song choices that reflect black pride and identity.
MTV was to go silent for eight minutes – the length of time a white police officer knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck.
Spotify, meanwhile, has blacked out the artwork for several of its most prominent playlists, including Today’s Hits and Rap Caviar, and has inserted a silence of eight minutes and 46 seconds into select podcasts and playlists “as a solemn acknowledgement for the length of time that George Floyd was suffocated”.
Lakers superstar LeBron James posted the same empty black photo on his Instagram. He added two hashtags to it. “#blackouttuesday” and “#BLM (Black Lives Matter).” Steph Curry, LeBron fierce rival on the court, joined hands with the four-time MVP to show his support to the issue.
Other stars, including Ariana Grande, J Cole, Tinashe, Nick Cannon, Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes, joined protestors across the US over the weekend.
In the spirit of Black Out Tuesday, numerous stars have shared in the solidarity by sharing the blacked out square image on their socials. Academy Winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, The Weeknd, Kehlani, Drake, Britney Spears, and Kenyan Tiktok sensation Azziad Nasenya too shared the message.
Meanwhile back home; here in Uganda, It is only A Pass I have seen embrace the Black Out Tuesday movement with a post to his Twitter and Instagram: