You may have noticed some changes to your usual social media routine. You click open the app and you see tons of black squares being posted by everyone from Drew Barrymore to your best mate. Black Lives Matter has been a movement for a very long time, and it symbolizes the unjust and frankly evil treatment that the black community faces every day, primarily by the people responsible for our protection. Over the last week, there have been a series of protests across America surrounding the issue of police brutality towards the black community, which was ignited once again by the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police officers.
You’ve probably heard of George Floyd by now. His name has been all over social media and all over the news, despite there being a global pandemic. On 25th May 2020, George Floyd was handcuffed and put on the ground during an arrest after Floyd was accused of using a fake $20 bill. Caucasian Minnesota police officer, Derek Chauvin, has now been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after Floyd was crushed to death by Chauvin using excessive force by placing his knee on Floyd’s neck for over 8 minutes. During Floyd’s final moments screams of “Please, I Can’t Breathe” were heard, not just throughout the market where he was arrested, but across the globe.
George Floyd‘s murder was viral, and the outrage of the black community and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement grew powerfully over the next few days. Protest walks formed in the thousands from the grieving city of Minneapolis to the sunny hills of Los Angeles. Celebrities including J.Cole, Tyler The Creator, Ariana Grande, and Michael B. Jordan have been photographed taking part in the peaceful protests across the US; but not everyone has peace on their minds. Even though the protests were organised with the idea of encouraging peace there has been video evidence spread across the internet that some people, who are not black and have no ambition to spread awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement, have used this opportunity to riot and loot – jeopardizing the image of the protests and protestors. From the use of rubber bullets on those marching to racial profiling arrests of black men and women standing by, the fight is nowhere near over.
On the 2nd June 2020, the world decided to take a stand, but it wasn’t just by marching- people across the world are taking part in Blackout Tuesday, where everything goes dark for an entire day to represent everyone standing with the black community during the fight for equality. It’s not just about posting on Instagram- Spotify and Apple Music have replaced all playlist artwork and advertisement banners with a black image, and even large media conglomerates such as Viacom are “going dark” including Nickelodeon, BET, MTV, and others. Taking part in Blackout Tuesday means posting a black square on your social media platforms and refraining from posting or promoting new content for an entire day. Instead, you use your day to reconnect with your community and to educate yourself and others with what’s going on culturally around you. With the movement originating from the music industry, record labels and other music outlets have also chosen to pause for the entire day, and employes have been asked to not work in order to properly reflect.
When thinking about the future it is natural to feel uneasy at these times; 2020 has not been a very welcoming year for us all. Not only have we been hit with a pandemic that threatens the lives of those we love, but we have also been hit with some harsh truths of the society we all live in. Sometimes those who took oaths to serve and protect us do not have our best interests at hearts, and those who are not meant to see race when it comes to justice see nothing but. These harsh realities have been in front of us for as long as we can remember. Some of us have known nothing but inequality and racism our whole lives, and it’s a shame to have to acknowledge that not a lot has changed despite generations of trying. It is important that the world stands together in highlighting the wrongs in society and it is key for us to all ask “what do I stand for?”.