Blackout Tuesday

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Blackout Tuesday was a collective action to 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 Tuesday, 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 length of time 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] 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.[8]

On Facebook and Instagram, users participated by posting a single photo of a black square alongside the hashtag #blackouttuesday.[9]

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.[10] 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]

Concerns and criticisms

Some users posted the black square image using the hashtag #blacklivesmatter or #BLM (an acronym of the former), which in turn leads users who are searching those hashtags to find nothing but blank 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.[11][12] 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.[13] There was also a hoax spreading around claiming that the event was started by 4chan trolls, but research has proven that to be fake.[14]

Blackout Tuesday was criticized as a form of virtue signalling for the initiative's "lack of clarity and direction".[15][16][17][18][19]


  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. ^ "Apple Music Joins Music Industry's Blackout Tuesday Awareness Campaign". MacRumors. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  9. ^ "Why people are posting black squares to their Instagram". The Independent. June 2, 2020. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  10. ^ "Music Industry Says 'The Show Must Be Paused' Over George Floyd Death". Billboard. June 1, 2020. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Vincent, James (June 2, 2020). "Blackout Tuesday posts are drowning out vital information shared under the BLM hashtag". The Verge. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  13. ^ Ledbetter, Carly (June 2, 2020). "Emily Ratajkowski Slams People Doing The 'Bare Minimum' By Just Posting Black Squares". HuffPost. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  14. ^ Halperin, Shirley; Halperin, Shirley (June 2, 2020). "Sony Music Chief Rob Stringer Details Company-Wide Plans for Blackout Tuesday". Variety. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  15. ^ Savage, Mark (June 2, 2020). "TV, radio and music stars mark 'Blackout Tuesday'" – via
  16. ^ "Outpouring of non-black support on Blackout Tuesday met with appreciation, skepticism" – via The Globe and Mail.
  17. ^ Hornery, Andrew (June 6, 2020). "There's more to activism than Instagram black squares". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  18. ^ "A social media 'blackout' enthralled Instagram. But did it do anything?". NBC News.
  19. ^ Framke, Caroline; Framke, Caroline (June 2, 2020). "Why Posting Black Boxes for #BlackoutTuesday, or Hashtags Without Action, Is Useless (Column)".

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