Lil Nas X and Lizzo question the merits of the music industry’s Blackout Tuesday
Rihanna, Katy Perry, Oprah Winfrey, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Chance the Rapper and more stars have gone dark on social media for the music industry’s Blackout Tuesday initiative in solidarity with the black community.
The initiative, originally called #TheShowMustBePaused, is a response to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other victims of racial violence. Industry executives Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang launched it as a way for artists and executives to pause and reflect on how they can better support the black community.
"#TheShowMustBePaused is an initiative created by two Black women in music in observance of the long-standing racism and inequality that exists from the boardroom to the boulevard,” Thomas and Agyemang wrote last week in a joint statement. “We will not continue to conduct business as usual without regard for Black lives.
“The music industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. 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.”
View this post on Instagram
We are tired and can’t change things alone. This is a call to action for those of us who work in music/entertainment/show business to pause on Tuesday, June 2nd because the show can’t just go on as our people are being hunted and killed. Use this time on Tuesday to come together and figure out how we can hold our partners, colleagues and companies alike, accountable to come up with and execute a plan that actively supports and protects the VERY CULTURE that it profits from. #THESHOWMUSTBEPAUSED
While several in the music world and beyond have embraced the movement by posting black squares to their Instagram feeds, others questioned the effectiveness of a blank post and a hashtag. Country rapper Lil Nas X and singer-songwriter Kehlani were among the skeptics who worried the well-intended gesture might do more harm than good.
“I know y’all mean well but... bro saying stop posting for a day is the worst idea ever,” Lil Nas X tweeted early Tuesday, adding, “I just really think this is the time to push as hard as ever. i don’t think the movement has ever been this powerful. we don’t need to slow it down by posting nothing. we need to spread info and be as loud as ever.”
i just really think this is the time to push as hard as ever. i don’t think the movement has ever been this powerful. we don’t need to slow it down by posting nothing. we need to spread info and be as loud as ever. https://t.co/9nvy3HodjD— nope (@LilNasX) June 2, 2020
While Kehlani credited Thomas and Agyemang for championing solidarity and “strength in numbers,” she echoed the “Old Town Road” hitmaker’s concerns, calling the effect “counterproductive.”
“Something about its execution doesn’t seem smart,” she wrote on her Instagram story. “We keep each other informed on here, we are each other’s news channels because we cannot trust the news. We cannot disappear for a day.”
Kehlani, Lizzo, Chance the Rapper and other musicians also cautioned participants not to attach the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter to their Blackout Tuesday squares, in order to avoid clogging up a feed used to share important updates and resources connected to the cause.
“Hey everybody,” Lizzo said Tuesday in an Instagram video, “please don’t use the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter because it is flooding the hashtag search, which is black pictures instead of information. So if you’re going to post a black square, just post a black square and say it, but don’t hashtag it.”
“Its saturating the main hashtag that activists use to record and report injustices happening at the protests which are STILL GOING ON TODAY,” Chance the Rapper tweeted. “DO NOT BLACK OUT THE MOVEMENT. U dont [need] a hashtag its already black.”
Don’t put #blm in your blackout post. Its saturating the main hashtag that activists use to record and report injustices happening at the protests which are STILL GOING ON TODAY. DO NOT BLACK OUT THE MOVEMENT. U dont newd a hashtag its already black.— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) June 2, 2020
Agyemang also warned against using the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag on her Instagram story and clarified in a recent post that “the purpose” of the initiative “was never to mute ourselves” but to “disrupt.” Many record labels, including Atlantic, Sony, Columbia, BMG and Universal Music Group, have also taken part in the event.
Here’s a sampling of Blackout Tuesday posts from various entertainers.
A list of black-owned restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, food trucks and pop-ups in the Los Angeles area.
View this post on Instagram
I try to live my life to answer the question, “How can I be of service?” I have spent the last few days watching, listening and reflecting about how to utilize my privilege and platform. I hope that #BlackoutTuesday gives us all (especially in the music industry) an opportunity to take what we’re learning and put it into action on Wednesday, and every day going forward. There are many ways to support the movement towards justice and equality. I’ve chosen to donate to the organizations tagged in this post. You can do the same at the link in my bio. This soon to be mother is going to work hard to make damn sure this world is a more just place for every child. Black Lives Matter
View this post on Instagram
This is for George Floyd and all those who came before. Although we are showing solidarity on social media, please remember there are elections happening today in Iowa, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, Washington D.C., Indiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Idaho, and Rhode Island. Vote. #blackouttuesday