Can Someone Explain #BlackOutTuesday to Me Because I'm Not Real Smart, but This Seemed Real Dumb

Illustration for article titled Can Someone Explain #BlackOutTuesday to Me Because Im Not Real Smart, but This Seemed Real Dumb
Screenshot: Instagram

I tried very, very, very hard today to find a point of #BlackOutTuesday. Not a reason, mind you. There are many of those. It was created by two black women—Jamila Thomas (Senior Director of Marketing at Atlantic Records) and Brianna Agyemang (Senior Artist Campaign Manager at Platoon)—to “pause” the music industry. And that makes sense to me! I see the point here! The original hashtag (#TheShowWillBePaused) makes sense too! All the sense! Too much sense!

But then other brands got involved and told their followers to post black squares on their social media accounts to bring awareness to the protests and show some sort of solidarity, and this is where my brain stopped. I don’t understand the point of asking people who were already posting non-stop about George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and protests and racism and police brutality and links to financial and community resources and anti-racist reading guides to pause all of that just to fill their timelines squares. And now our “protest” is the same protest as the San Fran Fucking 49ers’s protest? If the point of the campaign was to do literally the opposite of what it was intended to do, mission accomplished.


But then I read that another reason for #BlackOutTuesday is so people will post nothing but content related to the uprising today. But if you’re a black person who took the time to post about something personal today—a picture of waffles, perhaps, or a clip from an NBA All-Star game, maybe—so the fuck what? 

Maybe your outrage bandwidth was depleted and you needed a break. Maybe you wanted to provide that break for someone else. Maybe you just made the best fucking waffles ever and wanted to share. Maybe there are hungry protesters waiting for that exclusive gourmet waffle content. Today is Tuesday, which means it’s book pub date for thousands of authors. Black authors, too. And they should not post something about their book today—a thing they’ve been slaving over and anticipating for years—just for some awkward hashtag solidarity? I guess the best explanation is that it’s not for us (black people). But if it’s not for us, why were so many of us doing it?

Again, though—and I can not make this clearer—despite the name of this blog, I am not smart. And it’s (very) possible that the point of all this will remain elusive to me. I’ve made my peace with that reality. All this hard thinking got me hungry now, and I just want some waffles.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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I’m just bemused by the sheer number of accounts I follow in Instagram that haven’t posted anything in months suddenly putting up a black graphic today. I don’t doubt their sincerity, I’m glad for the show of support but it seems so easy as to be kind of meaningless.