‘Blackout Tuesday’ circles social media in support of protests

Social media came to a halt on Tuesday in memory of George Floyd, murdered on the 25th of May in Minneapolis, USA. Named “Blackout Tuesday”, it was initially kickstarted to show solidarity with the fight against racism and support for the black community, which plays an essential role in the music world. The initiative, created by music executives Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyeman, has since extended to other media and has found momentum in platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

The hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused has been the main tool to spread the movement on social media and it is strongly suggested to use it and #BlackoutTuesday, as utilizing #BlackLivesMatters could drown updates and important information about the protests.

Multiple companies and music labels have openly signed up to the initiative with the titans of the industry Sony, Warner Bros. and Universal being vocal about their support. Other examples include Spotify blacking out the covers of the most popular playlists as well as introducing an 8 minute and 46 second pause in their podcasts, reflecting the time police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck. This period of silence was also be present on television networks such as MTV and Comedy Central. 

On social media people around the world have showed their solidarity and adherence to the movement by posting black squares and pledging to mute their accounts for the remainder of the day while committing to use their time to read about the social rights movement and BLM. 

Celebrities have taken to social media to voice their support as well showing their donations to various organizations forwarding equality and black rights. The hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused was shared by artists such as Billie Eilish, the Rolling Stones and Eminem.

American rapper Jay-Z contacted the Governor of Minnesota and discussed how to proceed to heal the black community while Rihanna announced her label would not operate on Tuesday.

In the UK, BBC Radio 1 presenter Clara Amfo gave an important speech on the effects of racism and media coverage on her mental health talking about the way society seems to welcome black culture and its products but not the individuals who create the art.

ITV’s This Morning and its presenters showed support for the movement, showing the words Black Lives Matter on a dark background. Multiple British football clubs have showed their support, with Liverpool, Chelsea, Leicester and Newcastle players kneeling in respect of George Floyd.

Additionally, today the digital radio station BBC 1Xtra will host several debates and discussions in favour of the black community accompanied by songs that “reflect black pride and identity”. Companies such as Boohoo and Superdrug have also shared the hashtag #TheShowMustPause on twitter. 

Not everyone however has been supportive of the initiative, with some companies and individuals labelling it as “virtue signalling” and criticising the Tuesday demonstration as a petty gesture which does not recognise or fix the exploitation of black talent in the music industry.

Others criticise the big labels using the demonstration to gain approval due to the small impact that Tuesday shutdown has on their business as new music releases typically happen on Thursdays and Fridays.

As many have stated, it is important to keep in mind that this was not a day off. Instead, it was a chance to use time to discuss, to educate and support one another and, if possible, contribute to a cause that assists black people and the protests.

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Marco Rizzo

June 2021
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