Music Industry Leads ‘Blackout Tuesday’ But BLM Hashtag Creates Confusion

Black Lives Matter protest outside Trump Tower in New York. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Following the death of George Floyd in police custody, the music industry spearheaded a June 2 awareness campaign called “Blackout Tuesday.”

Jamila Thomas, senior director of marketing at Atlantic Records, and Brianna Agyemang, a former Atlantic executive, led the effort via their #theshowmustbepaused initiative to observe “the long-standing racism and inequality that exists from the boardroom to the boulevard.”

In a statement on the movement’s official website, Thomas and Agyemang urged industry colleagues to “pause from business as usual” on June 2, and instead spend time supporting the black community.

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But on Tuesday, there were complaints that the movement might be doing more harm than good, particularly on Instagram, as people shared images of black squares and tagged their posts with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter or #BLM. Critics said the posts were flooding the #BlackLivesMatter channel with blank squares but no usable information about protests, police brutality, or ways to help.

The #theshowmustbepaused Instagram account responded by posting an update Tuesday, telling users not to use the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag in their posts, unless the were sharing “necessary resources and information for the movement.” Instead the post said users should type out Black Lives Matter.

Instagram users quickly replied to the post with complaints.

“Little late to be sharing this. Next time coordinate with the actual leaders of the movement (blm) so you don’t destroy what work they are doing,” one person wrote.

“You guys need to get ahead of this right now,” another person wrote. “Start blowing up the page with bail funds, petitions and all. Most of the musicians posting are putting up a black screen and dipping.”

“This is NOT enough. you NEED to be using this platform you’ve built to support ACTUAL organizers doing crucial grassroots work on the ground,” someone else wrote.

Despite the confusion, many well-known music artists including Quincy Jones, Rihanna Ricky Martin, Kelly Rowland, and Jennifer Hudson, took part in the effort by posting black boxes on their social media channels or statements of support.

“It’s hard to know what to say because I’ve been dealing with racism my entire life,” Quincy Jones shared on Instagram. “That said, it’s rearing its ugly head right now & by God it’s time to deal with it once & for all. My team & I stand for justice. Conversations will be had & action will be taken. #THESHOWMUSTBEPAUSED.”