Why #BlackOutTuesday Is Regressive
Darkness should not be met with darkness.
Yesterday my Instagram timeline was full of images, videos and visual guides surrounding the #BlackLivesMatter movement and systematic attacks on Black lives. Today, this has vanished.
Many across the globe are taking part in #BlackOutTuesday, posting plain black images in solidarity with Black lives and in line with the resistance of white supremacy. But for what? Although people are advising others not to use #BlackLivesMatter on the posts to avoid the blocking out of important and informative media, now is not the time for darkness. It feels as though this is an easy way out, an escape route. It is a way to say, “I support Black lives” by not saying anything at all. Do not be fooled. It is easy to post a black screen, but this becomes a way for people to do the absolute bare minimum and give themselves a pat on the back afterwards.
Admittedly, many of these posts are met with heartfelt captions and people using their voices to combat centuries of hate. But what message is a black screen sending? Visualisation is awareness. We need to see the things we cannot stomach in order to evoke real change and real justice. We need to see these things in order to understand. Our prejudice should not be muted. The conversation surrounding the movement is still thriving and a revolution is happening. But our accessibility to a visual conversation has been obstructed. Why have we started hiding behind black images? Why is our pain being silenced through the medium it is most impactful? It is not enough to simply know, we have to see.
It feels challenge-y, and trend-like. Inevitably, those who see this happening feel obliged to take part, not because they care about Black lives and our lack of opportunities, acknowledgement and equality, but because they feel like they have to. Because they feel like if they don’t, they will be targeted. This rests in privilege. Anyone who feels it is absolutely mandatory to post a black image on their page and do nothing else to contribute to the movement does not and will never understand this struggle because they have never had to. It has never happened and will never happen to them. The colour of their skin will never have an influence in securing a job, or housing, or respect.
Some have described the black out as a break from posting your own personal posts, so no selfies, no memories, no showing us what you had for lunch, and I support this break from our usual online antics. But for it to be replaced by darkness makes no sense to me. These are our lives. This is genocide.
Our lives and our struggle will not muted.