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The message behind the black screens you're seeing on social media

Posted at 4:35 PM, Jun 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-02 19:00:55-04

If you scrolled through social media Tuesday, you no doubt saw it in some way, shape or form.

Dozens and dozens of black squares, filling the spaces where colorful photos usually are.

“Blackout Tuesday” turned into a way for people to almost speak out silently.

It was started by a pair of black women in the music industry to identify with the protests surrounding George Floyd’s death — and longstanding racial inequalities.

The effort quickly spread into a full-blown social justice campaign across social media -- Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.

Content creators on Instagram, for example, are muting their own content for a period of time, in order to amplify black voices and the Black Lives Matter movement.

One caption reads, “Reflecting on what I haven’t done and what I can do to better myself. Showing support is necessary but taking action in our own lives and work, researching, donating, and the choices we make are what will matter beyond today.”

Activist Ricky Smith said for some, taking the day off social media to reflect and open dialogues can be powerful.

“Also, for me, seeing my timeline of allies. People who might not have been vocal before, but saying ‘Hey, I understand’ or maybe, ‘I don’t understand, but I’m with you. I’m trying to understand. send me some links, or something I can look at or read.’ Just knowing that we’re all in this together,” Smith said.

Keira Williams said she posted the blackout on her social media to signify she stood with her black friends, family, and colleagues.

“I also think it’s an incredibly simple thing for people to do so maybe it seems like something they can hold on to and manage,” Williams explained. “It’s not like were asking them to go in the streets and participate in a protest, which I understand not everyone is comfortable doing, but putting up a black screen is something can do and can show that bit of solidarity.”

We should note that some organizers warn using the #blacklivesmatter on the black screens may muddy the message.

The overall point is to pause, listen, and learn.

And that’s something we can all benefit from — doesn’t matter the day or the hashtag.