Blackout Tuesday is a protest action originally organized by two black women working in the music industry: Jamila Thomas, senior director of marketing at Atlantic Records, and Brianna Agyemang, senior artist campaign manager at Platoon.
Using the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused, Thomas and Agyemang called for members of the music industry to “take a beat for an honest reflective, and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the black community.” (Source: theverge.com)
Like most things, it started with good intentions but has lead to hellish results.
With so many people, businesses, and brands tagging their posts with the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter and #BLM, they've pushed down important posts that share vital information about protests, organization donations, and document police violence.
It's counterproductive, detrimental, and thankfully being called out.
Do Black Lives really matter or are you just joining the bandwagon?
Of course major brands have published extremely heartfelt and inspirational messages in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor (please don't forget her), Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee, and Tony McDade, a Black Trans Man shot and killed by police in Tallahassee, Florida just two days after the murder of George Floyd.
Every Black life matters.
Special shout out to Nike for taking a major stand behind Colin Kaepernick for all these years. The world is finally beginning to see why he kneeled.
Ain't No Half-Steppin
Boutique brands and smaller companies considering participating in Blackout Tuesday or any forthcoming social media activism need to take some time to consider how far they're willing to go.
Will Black lives matter a week from now? How about in a month when lockdown restrictions are eased and businesses start to return to normal operations?
Will your actions be limited to posting on social media or posting screenshots of your donations?
Posting on social media out of solidarity and support is great but go deeper. Are you doing it for Black lives or for Black likes?
Do you have more black squares on your social media than you do Black employees?
It's easy to take a stance when everyone else is doing it. It's much harder to do when no one else is cheering you on. Will you stop posting when you start to lose followers or business?
Be Prepared To Lose Business
It's going to happen either way.
You're either going to lose business from offended White/All Lives Matter customers or you're going to get cancelled by the Black community when your actions prove hollow and performative.
There is no middle ground here.
You have a choice to make. Don't make it blindly.
Silence Is NOT An Option
If you need an example of how to speak up and use your brands platform, look no further than Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. The ice cream maker has been standing up for Black Lives Matter since 2016.
Their most recent post, titled "Silence is NOT an Option," details a four-step plan towards anti-racism action in the United States and reaffirms its commitment to speaking out against injustices toward Black people in America. Click here to read the article here.
May every brand find similar courage and fortitude.
If your company is making the commitment to be anti-racist, then everyone who works there needs to begin educating themselves and examining their own biases. This is by no means an exhaustive list but it is a great place to start.
- White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh
- “Who Gets to Be Afraid in America?” by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi | Atlantic (May 12, 2020)
- From White Racist to White Anti-Racist: The life-long journey by Tema Okun/dRworks
- 13th, Directed by Ava DuVernay
- TEDx Talk: How to deconstruct racism, one headline at a time | Baratunde Thurston
- The 1619 Project by New York Times Magazine