Blackout Tuesday

A solid black square, used by many to represent Blackout Tuesday

Blackout Tuesday was a collective action to protest racism and police brutality.[1][2] The action, originally organized within the music industry in response to the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor,[3] took place on June 2, 2020. Businesses taking part were encouraged to abstain from releasing music and other business operations.[4] Some outlets produced blacked out, silent, or minimal programming for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the originally reported length of time that police officer Derek Chauvin compressed Floyd's neck.


Blackout Tuesday stemmed off of the original initiative  #TheShowMustBePaused[3] created by music executives Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas, Senior Director of Marketing at Atlantic Records.[5][6] Agyemang and Thomas have since noted that "These injustices we are facing in America are not limited to just our community. This is a global initiative and our efforts will include members worldwide".[7]

Businesses participated in different ways. Black Americans were asked to not buy or sell on this day to show economic strength and unity. Spotify announced it would be adding an 8-minute and 46-second moment of silence to certain podcasts and playlists for the day.[1] In honor of the death of George Floyd, media conglomerate ViacomCBS similarly took all of its cable channels, which include MTV, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central, off the air for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.[8] Apple Music stripped down and took over the "Browse", "For You", and "Radio" tabs and replaced them with a single radio streaming station in celebration of Black music.[9]

On Facebook and Instagram, users participated by posting a single photo of a black square alongside the hashtag #blackouttuesday.[10]

Actions promoted

Organizations supporting Blackout Tuesday suggested that the day could be an opportunity for reflection on racism and the effects of racism on society.[11] Others suggested it could be an opportunity to take time from work to focus on helping others.[5] According to the original statement released by Aygyemang and Thomas, "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".[3] This is only phase one of a multi-phase movement.[7] It was also proposed that this day be used as “a day to disconnect from work and reconnect with our community” via “an urgent step of action to provoke accountability and change.” [12] "Blackout Tuesday" was originally conceived as a music-industry protest, according to Rolling Stone, and Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang of Atlantic Records meant it to be a call for the industry to "not conduct business as usual." In a statement, Thomas wrote, "Your black executives, artists, managers, staff, colleagues are drained, traumatized, hurt, scared, and angry," adding, "I don’t want to sit on your Zoom calls talking about the black artists who are making you so much money, if you fail to address what’s happening to black people right now." In a separate statement, the pair wrote that "the show can’t just go on, as our people are being hunted and killed."[13]

Concerns and criticisms

Some users posted the black square image using the hashtag #blackouttuesday, #blacklivesmatter or #BLM (an abbreviation of the latter), which in turn led users who were searching for or tracking those hashtags to find nothing but solid black images. Some activists were concerned because the Black Lives Matter related hashtags are being used by activists and others to share information during the ongoing protests, and posting a black square with the incorrect hashtag risks drowning out critical information and updates.[14][15] Other users pointed to those participating in the Blackout Tuesday event, but not involving themselves in other forms of activism, such as protesting or donating, as being performative in their activism.[16] There was also a hoax spreading around claiming that the event was started by 4chan trolls, but research has shown that to be false.[17]

Blackout Tuesday was criticized as a form of virtue signalling for the initiative's "lack of clarity and direction".[18][19][20][21][22]


  1. ^ a b Statt, Nick (June 1, 2020). "Spotify to add 8:46-minute moment of silence to playlists and podcasts in honor of George Floyd". The Verge.
  2. ^ "MTV Goes Dark, Record Labels Hit Pause as U.S. Protests Rage". The New York Times. Reuters. June 1, 2020. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c "#TheShowMustBePaused". Retrieved June 1, 2020.
  4. ^ Gonzalez, Sandra (June 1, 2020). "Music industry leaders vow to pause business for a day in observation of Blackout Tuesday". CNN.
  5. ^ a b Hissong, Samantha; Millman, Ethan (June 1, 2020). "The Music Business Is Holding a 'Blackout.' But No One Seems to Know What That Means". Rolling Stone.
  6. ^ Savage, Mark (June 2, 2020). "TV, radio and music stars mark 'Blackout Tuesday'". BBC News. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Organizers Detail Black Out Tuesday Impact as Initiative Prepares for Next Phase". Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  8. ^ Bursztynsky, Jessica; Whitten, Sarah (June 2, 2020). "Instagram users flood the app with millions of Blackout Tuesday posts". CNBC. Retrieved November 8, 2020.
  9. ^ "Apple Music Joins Music Industry's Blackout Tuesday Awareness Campaign". MacRumors. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  10. ^ "Why people are posting black squares to their Instagram". The Independent. June 2, 2020. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  11. ^ "Music Industry Says 'The Show Must Be Paused' Over George Floyd Death". Billboard. June 1, 2020. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  12. ^ "Music business set for 'Black Out Tuesday' to 'provoke accountability' in wake of George Floyd death". Music Business Worldwide. May 31, 2020. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  13. ^ Darby, Luke. "What Is Blackout Tuesday, and Why Might It Be a Bad Idea?". GQ. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  14. ^ Willingham, AJ. "Why posting a black image with the 'Black Lives Matter' hashtag today is doing more harm than good". CNN. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  15. ^ Vincent, James (June 2, 2020). "Blackout Tuesday posts are drowning out vital information shared under the BLM hashtag". The Verge. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  16. ^ Ledbetter, Carly (June 2, 2020). "Emily Ratajkowski Slams People Doing The 'Bare Minimum' By Just Posting Black Squares". HuffPost. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  17. ^ Halperin, Shirley (June 2, 2020). "Sony Music Chief Rob Stringer Details Company-Wide Plans for Blackout Tuesday". Variety. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  18. ^ Savage, Mark (June 2, 2020). "TV, radio and music stars mark 'Blackout Tuesday'" – via
  19. ^ "Outpouring of non-black support on Blackout Tuesday met with appreciation, skepticism" – via The Globe and Mail.
  20. ^ Hornery, Andrew (June 6, 2020). "There's more to activism than Instagram black squares". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  21. ^ "A social media 'blackout' enthralled Instagram. But did it do anything?". NBC News.
  22. ^ Framke, Caroline (June 2, 2020). "Why Posting Black Boxes for #BlackoutTuesday, or Hashtags Without Action, Is Useless (Column)".

External links


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