Blackout Tuesday is happening today (2nd June), but what is it all about and who’s been getting involved?
The cruel death of George Floyd, a Black American man, has sparked talks about racism not just in the US, but all over the world.
The official post-mortem examination reports Mr Floyd died from asphyxia (lack of oxygen) due to compression on his neck and also on his back. It also officially ruled the death as homicide, after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
While an extreme example, the gruesome murder has shed light on an issue that has been plaguing societies all over the world for centuries and not always in an explicit, violent way – racial inequality.
To protest the death of George Floyd and others at the hands of the police, Blackout Tuesday was born.
The show must be paused: What is the meaning of Blackout Tuesday 2020?
The idea came from Quincy Jones, an American record producer, who asked the music industry to ‘pause the show’ for a day, to ‘provoke accountability and change’.
He wrote on Instagram, ‘It’s hard to know what to say because I’ve been dealing with racism my entire life. That said, it’s rearing its ugly head right now & by God it’s time to deal with it once & for all. My team & I stand for justice. Conversations will be had & action will be taken. #THESHOWMUSTBEPAUSED
‘For all of my friends in the blind and differently-abled communities, here’s the text that is included in this image: “MUSIC INDUSTRY BLACK OUT TUESDAY
‘Due to recent events please join us as we take an urgent step of action to provoke accountability and change.
‘As gatekeepers of the culture, it’s our responsibility to not only come together to celebrate the wins, but also hold each other up during a loss.
‘Join us on Tuesday JUNE 2 as a day to disconnect from work and reconnect with our community. #THESHOWMUSTBEPAUSED”’.
What can I do for Blackout Tuesday?
While many music companies have paused their businesses for the day and a number of music artists have cancelled fan events, you can also show solidarity as an individual.
To join in, you can share a black square on your feed on Instagram. However, combine this with call to actions relevant to your community – like urging friends and family to educate themselves on racial issues and highlighting relevants resources, pledging to research and call out how racism is present in your community.
Why shouldn’t I use the Black Lives Matter hashtag?
If you’re planning to join Blackout Tuesday, it’s important not to use the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.
This is because the new posts are hiding critical information that is usually found through that hashtag.
Which celebrities have joined Blackout Tuesday?
Celebrities joining in the Blackout Tuesday initiative include Greg James, who paused on the BBC Radio 1 show and gave a moving speech.
He said, “If you think this is miles away… It isn’t. Racism is happening all around us, so take a stand. If you’re white and listening to this show right, this is your problem too. It’s mine, it’s yours. It’s everybody’s. Reach out to those in your life who are marginalised, call out racism, sign petitions, write to leaders, because it’s everyone’s job.
“This isn’t for Black people to tell you why should be angry. Silence is compliance. Most importantly, donate. There’s opportunities all over the place. Opportunities for change. There are memorials for George Floyd’s family. There’s all sorts of brilliant funds and charities that you can find online. This is uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable to listen to. But we should feel uncomfortable about it. So, I wanted to say that and I wanted to play this…”
He ended by playing rapper Dave’s song Black – an emotional song about being young, Black and British, which received over 250 complaints to Ofcom after he perfomed it at the Brit Awards earlier this year.
Holly Willoughby, who has also pledged her commitment to educating her children on race as a white parent, also shared a black square on her feed, and This Morning blacked out at 11am.
She wrote, ‘Black Lives Matter #blackouttuesday Today on @thismorning at 11am we will blackout as we stand in solidarity with our black colleagues, storytellers and viewers around the world. 🖤’.
Ferne McCann, Katie Price, Andrea Mclean, Samantha Faiers, Phil Schofield – the list goes on.
David Beckham also joined in, and Victoria Beckham posted a poignant message on what she’s doing to be actively anti-racist.
She wrote, ‘It’s impossible not to be deeply moved by the tragic death of George Floyd. I’ve been thinking a lot about it, and as a mother of four, what’s struck me the most is how important it is to not sit by and watch from the sidelines without doing anything.
‘So as a family, we spent a lot of time this weekend talking and reading about the issue. At first, it was about how shocked and devastated we all are that this still happens in 2020, but has turned more to how we can be actively anti-racist, how we can stand in solidarity with the Black community (not just right now, but always), and how we can make a difference.
‘We signed the petition for George Floyd as a starting point, and I’ve found that @colorofchange, @naacp and @theconsciouskid are good resources for listening and educating ourselves. As a mother, I was also so, so moved by the eye-opening lyrics to @keedronbryant’s song.
‘In addition to standing in solidarity, it’s our responsibility to speak out now and use our platforms for education, conversation and change. X VB’.
Blackout Tuesday: What else can I do to help?
While posting a black square on your feed is a nice gesture, it will take a lot more than a post to spark change in our societies.
Plenty of resources have been shared on social media recently for anyone who wants to do something about not just the hoorrific events in the US, but also be more educated on how systemic racism works, and what we can actively do to fight it.
Here’s a summarised list of actions you can take now:
There’s plenty of books, articles and social media posts explaining systemic racism, and what the main issues are. If you’re white, you can only understand the problem by educating yourself as you will not have experienced the racism – covert and overt – Black people face.
Check out the Anti-racism resources for white people, which includes a full list of podcasts, articles, films and books.
As awareness grows, so does opportunity for change. Here’s a few of the petitions you should have a look at:
Donate if you can
If you can, donate to memorials for George Floyd’s family, but also charities commited to change.
– Minnesota Freedom Fund
– Bail Project
– Official George Floyd Memorial Fund
– R.I.P Belly Mujinga: To support the family of Belly, the Black railway worker who died of COVID-19 after being spat on while doing her job.
– Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust: named after Stephen Lawrence, a Black teenager who was killed in southeast London in 1993 in a racist attack.
Buy from Black-owned businesses
Consistently supporting Black-owned businesses is one of the ways we can create infrastructure for real, lasting change.
Khalia Ismain, who launched discount card & discovery platform for Black British brands Jamii, told Metro last year, ‘We need organsations and businesses that are really fighting our corner, even when we don’t have the energy or the anger to do so ourselves. ‘It has to be long-lasting, and more sustainable than a singular protest or movement.’