LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Using the hashtags “Blackout Tuesday” and “The Show Must Be Paused,” millions of social media users posted a black square to their accounts following days of unrest over the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
The initiative was started by two Black women in the music industry, and businesses like ViacomCBS went dark, sharing a message on its website that read, in part:
“Our business is on pause today. Today we are encouraging our employees to shift their focus from building our business to building community.”
“It’s a day of service, a day to regroup, a day to meet and discuss plans of how to go forward in the future,” Gheni Platenburg, an assistant professor of journalism at at Auburn University, said. “So this is not a day off.
Celebrities like Halle Berry, Morgan Freeman, Mahershala Ali, Katy Perry and Christina Aguilera joined in posting the image to their accounts. Quincy Jones wrote that he has been dealing with racism all his life and, “by God, it’s time to deal with it once and for all.”
“While it’s good to make a post or it’s good to change your profile picture, that can’t be the end all, be all in terms of you doing your part,” Platenburg said.
Rapper Ghostpoet wrote on Twitter, “I don’t want a pause. I want action.”
Hmmm… “disconnect from work and reconnect with our community”. Can’t we do both? You’ve got to do what you feel is best I guess but personally I won’t be taking part in Black Out Tuesday. I don’t want a pause, I want action.
— Ghostpoet (@ghostpoet) June 1, 2020
And others pointed out that because many added the hashtag Black Lives Matter when posting the black box, it flooded feeds with black squares instead of useful information.
“It stifled the images that needed to come forward today, whether it be from the protest or people doing work in their community,” Platenburg said.
The Show Must Be Paused tweeted out a follow-up message that said the purpose “was never to mute ourselves,” but “to disrupt.”
— theshowmustbepaused (@pausetheshow) June 2, 2020
“The black box can’t be the ending point,” Platenburg said.
Many businesses that participated in the blackout promised continued action, like offering mental health services to employees or donating the day’s wages to Black causes.