Many people in Toronto and across Canada are currently observing Blackout Tuesday, an initiative started by two Black women in the music industry in order to encourage people to pause and think about what needs to be done to address the anti-Black racism that has led to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other Black citizens at the hands of police.
Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang also started the initiative, originally titled #TheShowMustBePaused, to hold the music industry accountable for profiting off of Black art and demand that they work to better protect Black communities.
“Tuesday, June 2nd is meant to intentionally disrupt the work week. Monday suggests a long weekend, and we can’t wait until Friday for the change,” they wrote on the initiative’s website.
“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.”
— theshowmustbepaused (@pausetheshow) June 1, 2020
But while the movement began within the music industry, specifically, it quickly gained traction and is now being observed by people in all industries and from all facets of life.
As a result, social media users have been posting black squares on their pages in order to express solidarity, mute everyday social media posts and bring awareness to this timely issue.
Many major Toronto entities have taken part in the movement today, including the Toronto Raptors and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) June 2, 2020
The City of Toronto Twitter account also posted about Blackout Tuesday, pledging to silence their social feeds for the day.
— City of Toronto (@cityoftoronto) June 2, 2020
Toronto Mayor John Tory posted a black square to his personal Twitter feed as well.
— John Tory (@JohnTory) June 2, 2020
Meanwhile, some have criticized social media users for using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter in their Blackout Tuesday posts and subsequently clogging up feeds with blank images instead of amplifying important Black voices.
TO EVERYONE POSTING THE BLACKOUT, PLEASE DON’T USE #BLACKLIVESMATTER OR #BLM. YOU’RE FLOODING THE BLM HASHTAG WITH BLANK IMAGES.
THIS IS DANGEROUS BY MAKING IT HARDER TO FIND OUT WHAT’S HAPPENING IN REAL TIME. USE #BLACKOUTTUESDAY INSTEAD. PLEASE RT
— g (@naahera_) June 2, 2020
And some are reminding others that posting a black square on social media is simply the tip of the iceberg when it comes to actually doing the work of fighting anti-Black racism.
Blackout Tuesday isn’t a day off pic.twitter.com/xVLuZ3DBHz
— Mark Matusoff (@mmatusoff) June 2, 2020
But while the social media movement has gained so much popularity that it’s frankly impossible to ignore, it’s just one of many ways that people in Toronto and across the continent are standing up to anti-Black racism in North America.
“This is not just a 24-hour initiative,” the organizers wrote. “We are and will be in this fight for the long haul.”