Activists encourage real-world action after social media's #BlackoutTuesday

You may have seen black squares pop up on your social media feed Tuesday with the hashtag "BlackoutTuesday."

It’s a moment that was first created to start a conversation, but some activists nationwide say the message may be getting lost in the images.

The black squares popping up on social media have intent. What is now the hashtag “BlackoutTuesday” started off as the hashtag “TheShowMustBePaused.” 

Two music executives who are black women originally created the moment to disrupt business as usual, calling June 2 a day for “honest, reflective and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the black community.”

The website includes links to resources on how to get involved.

MORE: ‘#TheShowMustBePaused’: FOX joins music industry’s June 2 blackout

Tampa resident Erica Burnett participates in local protests, and she said she’s familiar with the message.

“It's all about focusing the conversation of black people dying in America unjustly,” said Burnett. “Blackout Tuesday is a way for people to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.”

On social media, Blackout Tuesday has been interpreted in different ways. Columbia Records posted on Twitter about reflection.

Some saw the initiative as a call for going silent on social media, but musicians like Lil Nas X commented on Twitter saying now is the time to “be as loud as ever.”

A co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement pointed out that the action is separate from BLM, and activists said the “BlackoutTuesday” hashtags should not be shared in the same post with the hashtag “BlackLivesMatter” because it hides vital information for resources that people are searching for.

Burnett said people can take meaningful steps beyond a social media post.

“You can also donate to a lot of great causes that are out there. You can also support black businesses. It's already very difficult for black businesses to start and be open in different communities, specifically Tampa,” said Burnett.

Community members said now is the time to educate yourself on racial injustice.

“I definitely think the first step is acknowledging if you are not a black person, let/s say you are white person, understanding that you are operating from a place of privilege,” said Burnett. “To say that you have privilege is not to say that your life is easy and you don't have challenges. It's just to say that you have a bit of an advantage.”

Community members and activists said the intent behind Blackout Tuesday and the separate movement Black Lives Matter is to bring awareness to what's needed to make a purposeful change.

Activists say action is what sparks change and what you do can be small. They said you can seek out information on social justice on your own, referring to the NAACP, Black Lives Matter organization or use of force campaigns including Campaign Zero or Use of Force Project. Activists said you can also check in on others to open a conversation. Nationwide, activists said the purpose is to recognize that racial issues exist and educate yourself on how to be a part of the solution.