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What Is Blackout Tuesday? Celebrities And Record Labels Speak Out Against Injustice

"Blackout Tuesday” started as a campaign to hold the music industry accountable for racial inequalities.

By Daniel Egitto
Black Out Tuesday G

A flood of black squares swept across social media feeds Tuesday as activists and media giants alike spoke out against racial injustice following the death of George Floyd.

The posts — usually consisting of a featureless black square and a caption with the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday — are part of a massive online movement seeking to inspire reflection and change.

Millions of Instagram and Twitter users took up the trend, including a number of celebrities.

“This ain’t a movie/ ain’t calling cut/ we cutting the throat of the old system/ so if you ain’t with us/ then you better run. New breed,” Idris Elba tweeted Tuesday, captioning a black box.

“Black Lives Matter. #normalizeequality,” Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson posted on his Instagram.

“Side by side,” Drake posted with a black square on his account.

The campaign is the brainchild of black music executives Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, who originally created the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused — hoping to disrupt the music industry’s workweek on Tuesday and hold it accountable for racial inequalities.

“It is a day to take a beat for an honest, reflective and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the Black community,” the executives wrote in a statement on the movement’s website.

An enormous number of record labels and industry moguls embraced the message.

Warner Music Group, one of music’s “Big Three,” told its employees that “everyone can take a day out from their jobs” on June 2, according to a company-memo acquired by trade magazine Hits.

Spotify rolled out some especially visible changes at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday — darkening the headline images for popular channels like Today’s Top Hits and RapCaviar, while changing the channels’ descriptions to read simply, “Black lives matter.”

However, not everyone has responded positively to this trend. This is because many #BlackoutTuesday posts have included hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter and other tags that online organizers rely on for sharing information and coordinating protests.

“You’re (unintentionally) quite literally erasing the space organizers have been using to share resources. Stop it. Stop,” activist Anthony Williams tweeted.

“this is not helping,” rapper Lil Nas X tweeted. “bro who the hell thought of this?? ppl need to see what’s going on.”

Despite some objections, both #BlackoutTuesday and #BlackLivesMatter have continued to trend high on Twitter and on Instagram — often captioning the same black squares.

For the latest reporting on the George Floyd protests from NBC News and MSNBC’s worldwide team of correspondents, including a live blog with minute-to-minute updates, visit NBCNews.com and NBCBLK.