Blackout Tuesday was a social media initiative to post black squares in solidarity or support of the Black community against police brutality and systemic racism. It has been criticized on several grounds.
Problems and Purpose
#theshowmustbepaused began as an initiative on June 2, 2020, intended to disrupt normal proceedings on social media and in the music industry. The movement was instigated two Black female music executives, Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, on June 2 2020 as a day for ‘an honest, reflective and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the Black community’.  In particular, they focused on the music industry as a business that has disproportionately profited from Black music, arts and culture and the importance of holding them accountable.
It involved the posting of a black square on social media along with the above hashtag and call to action in support of the Black community in response to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. Throughout the day of June 2, the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday overtook the initial message and was posted widely by social media users, including corporations, major brands and social media influencers. The original message from #theshowmustbepaused was arguably distorted or lost, and the posting of a black square has been criticized for a variety of reasons.
Background History and Context
The initiative followed the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis on May 25. In the following days, protests erupted in Minneapolis and around the United States and other countries in response to not only George Floyd’s murder, but the killings of many Black people by law enforcement in the US who, along with other people of color, face a higher risk of being killed by the police than white people .
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The founders of #theshowmustbepaused are Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, two music executives at Atlanta and Platoon records , but has since been supported and spread by countless brands, corporations and individuals.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
The initial target group for the actions appears to be the music industry, with music labels pledging to join the reflection and not release music for that week. However, through social media the use of black squares spread very quickly and as of June 4, over 28 million people, organizations and influencers had participated, primarily under the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday .
Methods and Tools Used
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The founders of #theshowmustbepaused used social media to spread their initial message, which was a call for reflection and action for the Black community. The music industry appeared to be the main intended audience. Alongside the blackout element, they also called explicitly for support of black victims of police violence and Black community organizations, with links to funds on their website. The site also points out that it should not be a one-day affair, but the beginning of continued action.
Shortly after the initiative began, on the same day, the posting of a black square spread rapidly across social media platforms, beyond the music industry. It has been posted by a large number of corporations, organizations, social media influencers and individuals. Initially participants used the hashtag Black Lives Matter or BLM, but it quickly became apparent that this served to drown out important information about the Black Lives Matter movement and activists urged people to use #BlackoutTuesday instead for this reason.
The posting of a black square has been accompanied by a range of captions, sentiments and calls to action. The single precise purpose of posting the black square became unclear and distorted from the original #theshowmustbepaused.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
Whilst the posting of the black square spread very widely, at the time of writing (June 5, 2020) it remains unclear what its lasting impact will be. It is possible that one of the main impacts so far has been the backlash against the initiative due to the critiques outlined below.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Almost immediately after the trend became amplified on social media around the globe, critique of the black squares on several grounds emerged from activists and commentators within the black community.
For one, the use of the Black Lives Matter hashtag along with the black square served to drown out its intended use to spread news regarding protests and important information for the community. In response, activists began to call for people to delete their black squares in order to remove the BLM hashtag being associated with it.
Secondly, critics pointed out that silence from White people is part of the problem of systemic racism  and that fighting it requires white people to amplify Black voices, ways to support Black communities and actively support the community through action rather than silence. To this end, some people have also used the tag #amplifymelanatedvoices to share the content, funding organizations and work of Black influencers, activists and organizations.
Thirdly, it has been argued that the posting of black squares is a form of performative allyship , in that it provides people with an easy way to illustrate their support for Black people without actually having to take meaningful action or appear overly political. Activist and writer Feminista Jones points out that
“This performative ally stuff is not helping, and this really catered to the people who want to show that they care,” Jones says. “They thought this little black box was going to be solidarity. I’m like, ‘This is not how movements work. This is not how we’re supposed to be using social media.’ And people fell for it because it takes minimal work and minimal effort.”
In addition, commentators pointed out the hypocrisy of many large brands posting the black square after having previously shown little support for Black communities. For example, Black trans model and activist Monroe Bergdorf has pointed out that after she posted on social media about white supremacy, L’oreal - who also posted a black square - ended its contract with her in 2016. Following the fallout, the company then asked to work with her again and asked her to advise them on diversity and inclusion.
Black Lives Matter
 Thomas, J. and Agyemang, B. (2020). #theshowmustbepaused. Available at: https://www.theshowmustbepaused.com/
 Edwards, F., Lee, H and Esposito, M. (2019). Risk of being killed by police use of force in the United States by age, race–ethnicity, and sex. PNAS, 116 (34) 16793-16798. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1821204116
 Togoh, I. (2020). #BlackOutTuesday Brings Music Industry To A Pause, But Some Artists Warn Against Obscuring Black Lives Matter Posts. Forbes.com. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/isabeltogoh/2020/06/02/blackouttuesday-brings-music-industry-to-a-pause-but-some-artists-warn-against-obscuring-black-lives-matter-posts/#e54a2272e88b
 Sinanan, J. (2020). Blackout Tuesday: the black square is a symbol of online activism for non-activists. The Conversation. Available at: https://theconversation.com/blackout-tuesday-the-black-square-is-a-symbol-of-online-activism-for-non-activists-139982
 Diangelo, R. (2012). Nothing to add: A challenge to white silence in cross-racial discussions. Understanding and Dismantling Privilege. 2(1) 1-17. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Robin_Diangelo/publication/279539425_Nothing_to_add_A_challenge_to_white_silence_in_cross-racial_discussions/links/5596ac7f08ae99aa62c8b383/Nothing-to-add-A-challenge-to-white-silence-in-cross-racial-discussions.pdf
 Joachim, K. (2020). The Gay Men's Experience of Friendship in Masculinized Industries. PhD Thesis, Capell University. Pages 5-6. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Kat_Joachim/publication/341549152_THE_GAY_MEN'S_EXPERIENCE_OF_FRIENDSHIP_IN_MASCULINIZED_INDUSTRIES/links/5ec68f5ba6fd