On June 2 we saw the world of social media participate in #BlackOutTuesday – a collective and united action organised within the music industry in response to the unjust death of George Floyd and many other African Americans murdered in police custody.
As a direct result, many users took to Instagram and Twitter uploading a black square using the caption, #BlackLivesMatter (#BLM).
In essence, the message behind #BlackOutTuesday was one of reflection, a time to pause, learn and educate oneself (the initial action began with music execs Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang as #TheShowMustBePaused). However, distorted information and incorrect use of the hashtag meant ‘#BLM’ became a series of black squares where vital resources and information were filtered down.
Many posts and stories advised users not to caption their black squares with #BLM, but the message appeared to be lost. This, in turn, sparked the question of, did those posting a black square understand what it was for and why, or was this a performative and disingenuous act for some?
Speaking as a black woman myself, I can’t help but wonder what will follow suit afterward?
I witnessed many friends/followers, big brands, companies, you name it, posting for #BlackOutTuesday, some more surprising than others to say the least. They have been silent all this time when it came to the black agenda, but the moment there is a ‘trend’ we see many appearing out of the woodwork.
Brands are making bold PR statements about their support for the black community, but how far does this go? Do their social media posts about black lives reflect their reality or are they just performative statements? Sorry to break it to you, but it doesn’t just start with a black square or end there either!
There seems to be a real lack of genuine desire for lasting change which has been evident following on from #BlackOutTuesday. We have seen several white influencers seeking clout off the back of #BLM, posing in front of looted stores, and using protests as an accessory for their brand. Where is the genuine desire to be a part of the cause?
Supporting black people isn’t a social media trend or bandwagon to jump on. We want allies, we want continued support and commitment and the willingness to learn.
Let’s do better, be better!
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