HOLLYWOOD—The whole world watched in shock and awe on May 25, when George Floyd was handcuffed on the ground, crying that he couldn’t breathe and pleading for help. The incident has galvanized outrage, sparking protests and violence throughout the U.S. Watching the Minneapolis police officer knee on his neck for several minutes while he was handcuffed on the ground was horrifying. The other three officers stood and watched, from what the world saw.
Many celebrities and businesses went dark on social media on June 2, posting a black square on their grid or Instagram in solidarity with #BlackOutTuesday and #theshowmustbepaused movement. Early participants include Rihanna, Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Kylie Jenner, Timothée Chalamet, and many more A-listers in the music industry and outside of it.
The movement #theshowmustbepaused and #BlackOutTuesday was started by Atlantic Records exec Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang of Platoon to call attention to the systemic racism in society. As they explained on the initiative’s site: “In response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other Black citizens at the hands of police, #TheShowMustBe Paused is an initiative created by two Black women in music in observance of the long-standing racism and inequality that exists from the boardroom to the boulevard. We will not continue to conduct business as usual without regard for Black lives.”
Thomas and Agyemang stressed that this is just the beginning of their movement for the music business. “The music industry is a multi-billion dollar industry,” they wrote. “An industry that has profited predominantly from Black art. Our mission is to hold the industry at large, including major corporations + their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles, and successes of Black people, accountable. To that end, it is the obligation of these entities to protect and empower the Black communities that have made them disproportionately wealthy in ways that are measurable and transparent. 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.”
Why was Tuesday chosen? Thomas and Agyemang explain the date was picked “to intentionally disrupt the work week. Monday suggests a long weekend, and we can’t wait until Friday for change. It is a day to take a beat for an honest, reflective, and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the Black community.”
How did everyone participate? On social media, you posted a black square to your Instagram or Instagram Story, using the hashtags #blackouttuesday and #theshowmustbepaused. Do not use the hashtag #blacklivesmatter, because as many people pointed out on social media, it blocks protest content and vital information meant to educate others on how to help from showing in people’s feeds and under that hashtag. Then abstain from updating social media for the full 24 hours of the day. Everyone not only posted on Instagram, it was followed by Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and many spoke of it on TikTok.
Music businesses like Live Nation, Apple Music, and Spotify all expressed their solidarity with the movement and that they would observe Black Out Tuesday. On Tuesday, June 2, Apple Music observed Black Out Tuesday. We will use this day to reflect and plan actions to support Black artists, Black creators, and Black communities. #TheShowMustBePaused #BlackLivesMatter. Spotify “added eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence to certain playlists and podcasts to represent the time the police officer had his knee on George Floyd’s neck.” VH1 is did a similar tribute, writing on its Twitter, “For 8 minutes and 46 seconds, we will go dark in tribute to George Floyd. We dedicate this time to the victims of police brutality and the powerful movement fighting for justice.
On June 1, several high-profile artists, including Quincy Jones, Rolling Stones, and Billie Eilish, announced that they will observe the event. A collection of high-profile music labels, such as Def Jam Recordings, Interscope, Warner Music, Columbia Records, and Universal Music have posted their solidarity with the event on Instagram. They will be cancelling listening parties, fan events, and virtual performances for the day. Celebrities, as well have utilize a caption-less post and just hashtagged the movements. Some have pointed out how important it is to not use the #blacklivesmatter hashtag so the black squares don’t block crucial information. Demi Lovato was one celeb who used her platform to do so, writing, “#blackouttuesday.
Katy Perry wrote, “I try to live my life to answer the question, “How can I be of service?” I have spent the last few days watching, listening and reflecting about how to utilize my privilege and platform. I hope that #BlackoutTuesday gives us all (especially in the music industry) an opportunity to take what we’re learning and put it into action on Wednesday, and every day going forward. There are many ways to support the movement towards justice and equality. I’ve chosen to donate to the organizations tagged in this post. You can do the same at the link in my bio. This soon to be mother is going to work hard to make damn sure this world is a more just place for every child. #BlackLivesMatter.”
Camila Mendes wrote, “Black lives matter. this is not a trend. this is a movement that calls for serious action.”
Rose’s Scoop: The last time I checked the George Floyd memorial fund was up to almost $12 million.