Social media went dark on June 2. It’s Black Out Tuesday, aka #TheShowMustBePaused, a day created in response to “the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other Black citizens at the hand of the police,” according to the organizer’s Instagram page. It was initially meant for members of the music industry to take a beat for an honest, reflective, and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the Black community.” So, it was no surprise to see stars like Drake, Cardi B, and Rihanna participate in the demonstration by “blacking out” their Instagram page. Each of these music superstars posted a plain black square in solidarity with the movement.
It extended beyond the music world. Sports stars like LeBron James, Steph Curry (and his better half, Ayesha Curry) also partook in #TheShowMustBePaused. Countless others posted plain black squares, including comedian Kevin Hart and Real Housewives of Miami/Keeping Up with the Kardashians star, Larsa Pippen.
#TheShowMustBePaused / Black Out Tuesday was created by Atlantic senior directors of marketing Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas. Jamila hinted that something like this was coming with a May 29 post to her IG account. “Your Black executives, artists, managers, staff, colleagues are drained, traumatized, hurt, scared [and] angry,” Jamila said. “I don’t want to sit on your zoom calls talking about the Black artists who are making you so much money [if] you fail to address what’s happening to Black people right now. That’s the only ‘rollout plan’ I want to discuss. And it’s not solely on the ‘urban department,’ Black label heads, Black presidents, and Black employees to navigate. Your silence is noticed.”
“Side by side.” That’s all Drake wrote when captioning the plain black square posted to his IG on June 2. Days before partaking in this protest, Drake shared the poem “Affirmation” by Assata Shakur in tribute to George Floyd. He also donated $100,000 to the National Bail Out fund, an organization that provides bail money to those arrested for protesting. After his donation, Drake posted the receipt to his Instagram.
“We ain’t buying shit!!! and we ain’t selling shit neither!! gang gang!” Rihanna captioned her Black Out Tuesday post. Previously, Rihanna reflected on the death of George Floyd, writing, “Watching my people get murdered and lynched day after day pushed me to a heavy place in my heart.”
Though LeBron James is not afraid to speak his mind about the systemic oppression of black men and women by the hands of the police, he didn’t say much when he participated in Black Out Tuesday. King James uploaded his black square and just included a crown emoji, hashtags #blackouttuesday and #BLM, and a black dot.
“BLACKOUT,” wrote Cardi B when she took part in Blackout Tuesday. Days earlier, Cardi emphasized with looters and protesters in Minneapolis. While Cardi said she doesn’t “like this type of violence” – done in response to George Floyd’s death at the hands of four MPD officers – she said that “it is what it is. Too much peaceful marches, too much trending hashtags, and NO SOLUTIONS! The people are left with NO CHOICE.”
AYESHA & STEPH CURRY
Both Steph and Ayesha Curry partook in Black Out Tuesday. Steph tagged his post #BlackLivesMatter, while Ayesha added a black heart emoji to hers. Steph may have inadvertently done more harm than good. As Blackout Tuesday rolled out, users noticed that these black squares were flooding the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, one that The Verge notes is normally used to share vital information about protests, organization donations, and to document police violence.
Kevin Hart didn’t tag his post #BlackLivesMatters. Instead, the comedian wrote, “Every Life Matters.” Though that’s one step removed from saying “All Lives Matter,” the post was liked by LeBron James about 400,000 others, so Kevin got his message across.
Lara Pippen only included the prayer hands emoji with her Black Out Tuesday post. Though Larsa is of Assyrian heritage (“My mom is from Lebanon and my day [is from] Syria,” she tweeted in 2011), she lent her voice to the demonstration, presumably in hopes of raising the black voices calling for a day of peace and regrouping.