What is #blackouttuesday?
According to the ABC, the #BlackoutTuesday was originally called #theshowmustbepaused.
The movement was created by Brianna Agyemang, a former Atlantic Records employee, who in a now viral Instagram post called for people who work in the music and entertainment industry to pause their business on Tuesday, 2nd June, and to hold their partners, colleagues and companies accountable to come up and execute a plan to support black people, a community and culture, she says, the music industry “actively profits from.”
From there, major artists and actors began to show support including Rihanna, who shared a blank black square on Instagram, inspiring others to do so. People quickly started sharing black tiles onto their Instagram with the hashtag #blacklivesmatter and #blackouttuesday, thereby clogging up the #blacklivesmatter hashtag with black tiles and silencing important info about the movement, U.S. protests and protestors’ safety.
The problem here is that the idea of sharing a blank black square onto your IG grid is a nice gesture but is empty-handed when you aren’t actively advocating for Black Lives Matter (or Indigenous Australians). It comes off as performative activism, something to give yourself some social brownie points without doing any of the work to help those affected.
To be a better ally right now, you should be donating to Indigenous Australian organisations or Black Lives Matter resources, educating yourself and sharing information and petitions and protesting. Sharing a blank tile on your Instagram feed with #blackouttuesday is not enough, especially when you haven’t done anything else.
What does this have to do with Emma Watson?
On Tuesday, the Harry Potter actress contributed to the #blackouttuesday movement… with three white and black tiles for, uh, aesthetic?
Prior to the posts, Watson did not share any support for the current Black Lives Matter movement. She did not share links to petitions or places her 57 million followers could donate to, or even use her platform to signal boost black voices. So, understandably, people criticised her #blackouttuesday posts as a mere act of performative activism.
And now, the actress, who has extensively advocated for women’s rights and anti-racism in the past, shared a statement apologising for her actions, determined to use her “bio link and Twitter to share links to resources I’ve found useful for my own researching, learning [and] listening.”
“There is so much racism, both in our past and present, that is not acknowledged nor accounted for," she wrote in a recent Instagram post. "White supremacy is one of the systems of hierarchy and dominance, of exploitation and oppression, that is tightly stitched into society. As a white person, I have benefited from this…”
“Whilst we might feel that, as individuals, we’re working hard internally to be anti-racist, we need to work harder externally to actively tackle the structural and institutional racism around us. I’m still learning about the many ways I unconsciously support and uphold a system that is structurally racist…”
“… Over the coming days, I’ll be using my bio link and Twitter to share links to resources I’ve found useful for my own researching, learning [and] listening.”
As of writing and in the 24 hours since making the post, Emma Watson has used her platform to share donation links, the Change.org petition demanding justice for George Floyd, resources on how to be a good ally, and a video about U.K.’s own systemic racism against black British people.