The death of George Floyd ignited a cultural revolution. Advocates protested nationwide, and while some took to the streets, many others simply open up Instagram.
On Tuesday, June 2, 2020, users took to the platform to stand in solidarity with George Floyd and other victims of race-based injustice by flooding Instagram with black squares.
The original idea came from two black women within the music industry, Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, who encouraged the music industry to mute social media for a day and, instead, hold a day of reflection. Rather than be absorbed by social media,, members of their community were meant to put energy into educating themselves on racism.
In the initial post, Thomas said, “pause on Tuesday, June 2 because the show can’t just go on as our people are being hunted and killed,” prompting the hashtag and website, #THESHOWMUSTBEPAUSED.
Thomas and Agyemang’s original idea became shadowed by #BLACKOUTTUESDAY, and what started as a noble idea is now criticized by activists. Many black squares have been posted under the popular hashtag #BlackLivesMatter rather than #BLACKOUTTUESDAY, and the result is now black void instead of valuable information about the movement.
Activists worry that blackout Tuesday dulled the movement. Instead of being encouraged to research and share educational content on actions to help the movement, people turn to posting a black screen that seems to be nothing more than a social media trend that clutters people’s pages for a day.
The question that remains is: how can people use Instagram as a tool to help?
First, and probably the most important aspect, people must broaden their horizons andeducate themselves, as well as, others. Before taking to the streets or Instagram to protest, make sure to know what is being protested for. Many people are posting merely to follow a trend; however, this is peaceful movement for equality, not another Instagram fad.
To end injustice in our community, we first have to understand where it begins, and find factual evidence to stand. Some books that can provide perspective are: The Hate You Give (Angie Thomas), How I Shed My Skin (Jim Grimsley), Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness (Anastasia Higginbotham)
It is also important to recognize that any voice on this matter is important and respected: no matter who it is, everyone has a right to demand change. Anyone with access to a phone or a computer can help this movement. By writing an email to one’s city, state, and federal representatives and asking them to help end police brutality and stand for the cause from home.
Campaign Zero is an organization committed to ending police brutality. Their website includes a form where with an address, they will provide a representatives to reach out to and include their email address. They, also, provide an email template that makes contacting local representatives easier. Their website also provides detailed information on how the government can realistically end police brutality.
Another way to help is by visiting the Black Lives Matter website and signing petitions that are being used to advocate for change.
Do more than post a black square on Instagram page. This is not a trend. It is not something to do one time and move on. This is a movement that can alter history. To advocate for change in the world; go beyond posting a black square.