The Blackout Tuesday movement faced a backlash last night from a series of artists and activists who called it ’embarrassing’, ‘harmful’ and ‘counterproductive’ to the George Floyd protests.
Entrepreneur/Actor/Producer Kevin L. Walker, Marlon Wayans, and Vincent M. Ward were among some of those to raise doubts about the online trend, in which people posted plain black squares on their Instagram feed and abandoned social media for the rest of the day.
A pantheon of celebrities were among 28million people who used the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday in a show of solidarity after Floyd’s death.
But critics accused them of missing the point after a pause in promotional posts which was meant to allow for ‘conversation’ instead became a flood of black squares which drowned out ‘vital dialogue’ on racism and the Black Lives Matter movement.
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Switch it up and make #melanatedChessmoves !! — I love all my #melanated people, but don’t forget to think LONG-TERM — TODAY is primary elections day… who started this #blackouttuesday ?? 🧠 WHY during the #primaryelections …?…. 🧠 🧠 #BlackoutTuesday is a great unifying moment but organization of blacked out social media posts will NOT bring change to your legislation, officials, or the offices. If you can protest, you can #VOTE ! 🚨 #VOTE #VOTE 🚨 • • #melanated #melanin #focus #evolve #grow #vibratehigher #constantlycarving #igdaily #goodvibesonly #positivity #instagood #ascend #gold #hindsightadvice #melanatedmedia #entrepreneurs #smartmoves #RIPgeorgefloyd
VOTE. Ya ain’t got shit else to do man! Get yo ass off the couch and go vote!!! I don’t wanna hear another excuse!! Stop believing that your vote and voice don’t matter! This the illest way to protest…vote for the change you want!!! pic.twitter.com/aqSq1D6r87
— Rihanna (@rihanna) June 2, 2020
Others said the blackout was a ‘performative trend’ which allowed people to ‘wash their hands of activism’ without taking any real action.
The blackout was allegedly the idea of Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, two black women who work in the music industry.
They described it as a moment to ‘disconnect from work and reconnect with our community’ by holding off on music industry hype to address the crisis instead.
‘It is a day to take a beat for an honest, reflective and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the black community,’ they said.
Posting on Instagram yesterday, Agyemang said that ‘the purpose was never to mute ourselves’.
Nonetheless, a bunch of other celebrities did just that – turning many people’s Instagram feeds into a succession of empty black squares.
The phenomenon also attracted a series of brands and companies to NOW join in.