For many Instagram users scrolling through their feed on Tuesday, it seemed as if nearly everyone decided to post the same picture: a plain black box. While many of these blackout boxes were posted without a caption, other users simply used the hashtag, “Black Lives Matter.”
While there’s a scheduled blackout for the music industry planned for June 2, many Instagram users were unaware the trend was also going to apply to social media. And for those sharing blackout boxes on Instagram, what was the meaning behind it? What was the united goal?
— Rubén (@QueerXiChisme) June 2, 2020
Causing further confusion, the trend to show support for the Black Lives Matter campaign amid the protests following the death of George Floyd, got off on the wrong foot. Online users were supposed to share the black boxes with the hashtag, “Blackout Tuesday” or “Black Out Day 2020” – basically anything except “Black Lives Matter,” and for a very good reason.
With #blacklivesmatter – Instagram users could quickly click and get the most recent information on protest locations, along with the latest updates from supporters on the ground in cities across America. However, with this blackout and the BLM hashtag attached, that easy button for information was lost in a sea of black.
As one user online explained, “My initial thought is it feels dangerous… because once you click on the BLM hashtag you’re directed to an overflow of black images, instead of other more useful content people could look at for information.”
Black Out Tuesday Might’ve Been Confused With ‘The Show Must Be Paused’ Campaign
— theshowmustbepaused (@pausetheshow) June 1, 2020
With users online wondering what started the blackout trend on Instagram, journalist Ivi Ani explained on Twitter, “People are posting black screens for blackout Tuesday and using the black lives matter hashtag instead of the original hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused- the initiative started by 2 Black women working in the music industry to disrupt the industry. BLM tag wasn’t initially used.”
Jamila Thomas, Senior Director of Marketing at Atlantic Records, and Brianna Agyemang, a former Atlantic Records employee, created this call to action. Thomas wrote in a statement to music industry colleagues on Instagram on Friday, “Your black executives, artists, managers, staff, colleagues are drained, traumatized, hurt, scared, and angry. I don’t want to sit on your Zoom calls talking about the Black artists who are making you so much money if you fail to address what’s happening to Black people right now.”