On Tuesday, the hashtag #BlackOutTuesday was trending all across social media. It seemed to have started as a way of honoring the recent victims of police violence.
However, soon activists started becoming critical of the movement as a possible co-opting of a campaign started by two Black women.
Music industry professionals Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang initially started #TheShowMustBePaused as a campaign to call out music industry decision-makers who don’t support Black issues despite having Black people push the culture.
“The music industry is a multi-billion dollar industry,” reads a statement on #TheShowMustBePaused site. “Our mission is to hold the industry at large, including major corporations + their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of Black people accountable. To that end, it is the obligation of these entities to protect and empower the Black communities that have made them disproportionately wealthy in ways that are measurable and transparent.”
The site ended by saying, “This is not just a 24-hour initiative. We are and will be in this fight for the long haul. A plan of action will be announced.”
Initially, #TheShowMustBePaused seemed to start off smoothly. Music companies like Columbia Records, Sony Music, and Def Jam showed solidarity with Black people.
“This is not a day off,” Columbia Records wrote in a tweet. “Instead, this is a day to reflect and figure out ways to move forward in solidarity. We continue to stand with the Black community, our staff, artists, and peers in the music industry.”
International markets also took part in the campaign with the K-pop (Korean pop music) production company SubKulture Entertainment tweeting:
“We do not stand for racism, inequality, injustice, and violence in any way, shape, or form, which is one of the many reasons why we feel that the #BlackLivesMatter movement is so important to pay attention to.”
SubKulture then linked to blacklivesmatters.carrd.co which has multiple links to donate to racial justice issues and to support the families of police violence.
On #TheShowMustBePaused website, resources were also listed for people to get involved, including a link to help the family of George Floyd, who died after a brutal arrest by the Minneapolis police. There was also a link to support action for Breonna Taylor, who was killed in her own apartment by Louisville police after a false “no-knock” entry. Bail funds for protestors were also linked, as well as a link to the Movement for Black Lives, which organizes racial justice actions across the country.
Although #TheShowMustBePaused campaign seemed to be getting good traction and was spreading resources, it soon seemed like the cause was overshadowed by #BlackOutTuesday.
With #BlackOutTuesday, folks on social media seemed to only be making their all-black post on their page without linking it to bigger calls for action.
To make matters worse, folks were hashtagging their posts #BlackLivesMatter. Therefore, if folks were to look up the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag for the sake of resources and information about protests, all they would get is black posts.
Activist Brittany Packnett Cunningham made an Instagram video expressing her worry that #BlackOutTuesday was co-opting or overshadowing the original intent of #TheShowMustBePaused.
“My belief is that #TheShowMustBePaused, which was for the MUSIC industry only, got misunderstood OR coopted to create digital protest suppression,” she captioned her video. “IF YOU ARE BLACK, WE HAVE BEEN SILENCED FOR LONG ENOUGH. POST YOUR CONTENT, EVEN IF YOU STILL POST YOUR BLACKED OUT PICTURE. THE GOOD, THE JOYFUL, ORGANIZING INFORMATION-ALL OF THE FULLNESS OF BLACK LIFE.”
View this post on Instagram
<EDITED W ADDITIONAL INFORMATION>: I have asked multiple organizers around the country who’ve been doing this for a long time and NO ONE knows anything about #BlackoutTuesday. NONE of us organized this. If I am wrong, I will pull this post down and correct it! It appears that the righteous efforts of 2 Black women in the music industry who created #TheShowMustBePaused for their industry to learn and develop real plans for racial justice got coopted (see next post 😩) to create digital protest suppression. I’LL BE ARCHIVING THIS POST EVENTUALLY (originally planned to at the end of the day but i realize there’s still info in it folks are asking to have access to re: social media as a tool of resistance) Why? Because ultimately we need to REDIRECT the energy sinister forces tried to snatch from us (again, see my next post!) and funnel it into the places that need our amplification & support: @theshowmustbepaused #AmplifyMelinatedVoices @blklivesmatter & more. ❤️✊🏾
As always, folks should always do their research before joining a trend or campaign. Clearly, some people in the music industry understood the intent of #TheShowMustBePaused, considering they stopped business as usual and linked to resources that support Black activism and organizing.
However, now that #BlackOutTuesday has gone viral, people must continue to make sure they aren’t tagging all-black posts with #BlackLivesMatter. Meanwhile, non-Black folks should be making sure that their post are connected to spreading awareness and initiating action.
To stay connected to #TheShowMustBePaused, you can follow them on Instagram and Twitter.