As anti-police brutality protesters march across the nation, two black women in the music industry have created a movement for social media users to go dark for a day of protest.
#TheShowMustBePaused is an industry-wide call to action for social media users to acknowledge “the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other black citizens at the hands of police” by posting only a black tile on their social media platforms.
The initiative is the brainchild of Jamila Thomas, senior director of marketing at Atlantic Records and former Atlantic Records employee Brianna Agyemang.
However, as the movement grew, most people began using the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday, and activists urged social media users against using #BlackLivesMatter, saying it will drown out vital resources and information for the unaffiliated movement.
“If you use the Black Lives Matter hashtag, use it to share necessary resources and information for the movement. If you are not using it for that purpose, please type out Black Lives Matter with no hashtag, so we do not inadvertently mute vital dialogue in a sea of black boxes,” the organizers wrote.
Agyemang and Thomas are targeting the music industry with their campaign as they believe it is 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,” they wrote.
Streaming services such as Apple Music, YouTube and Spotify have also stepped forward. Music giant Spotify pledged to “stand with black creators,” with some playlists and podcasts featuring an 8 minute and 46-second long track of silence to acknowledge the amount of time fired officer Devin Chauvin held his knee on the neck of Floyd.
Artists and celebrities such as Drake, Katy Perry, Mick Jagger, Quincy Jones, Rihanna and many others have posted the black tile in solidarity. “It’s hard to know what to say because I’ve been dealing with racism my entire life,” said legendary producer Quincy Jones. “My team & I stand for justice. Convos will be had & action will be taken.”
While Agyemang and Thomas have addressed the incorrect use of #BlackLivesMatter with their movement, some activists and celebrities have also raised concerns.
“It has come to my attention that many allies are using #BlackLivesMatter hashtag w black image on insta,” wrote one activist on Twitter. “We know that’s it no intent to harm but to be frank, this essentially does harm the message. We use hashtag to keep ppl updated.”
“Don’t use the tag #BlackLivesMatter. It’s pushing down important and relevant content,” wrote comedian Kumail Nanjiani.
Grammy Award-winning artist Lil Nas X also chimed in on the debate. “I don’t think the movement has ever been this powerful. we don’t need to slow it down by posting nothing,” he said. “We need to spread info and be as loud as ever.”
The “Old Town Road” artist has joined some activists who have asked followers to use their platforms to post donations and petitions instead of the black square.
The organizers of #TheShowMustBePaused have also encouraged donations for a variety of purposes including the families of victims, bail funds and other campaigns.
“This is not just a 24-hour initiative,” they wrote. “We are and will be in this fight for the long haul. A plan of action will be announced.”