Hey y’all Brittany Packnett Cunningham at @mspackyetti here.
I normally don’t do this direct to camera thing, but I think that something is happening that we need to fix before it goes too far. And that thing is some confusion around what it appears black out Tuesday was meant to be. So I got on my Instagram feed this morning, and I saw that almost everybody that I was following had put up a picture of just Black. A lot of those people were my Black friends - friends who are activists, organizers, or just Black people who are feeling this at every moment, and they’re the voices that everyone needs to be hearing from. If you are Black and you posted that Black picture as a show of solidarity but your plan was always to post whatever you were going to post anyway today - either about this situation or your joy or your happiness or your frustration, whatever it is - then ignore this. People need to see all of those messages coming from Black people because us being full human beings is in and of itself an act of resistance. Our existence is resistance.
But if you are Black and your plan was not to speak at all today, I am worried that either - this whole game of telephone made this thing confusing or that somebody has actually coopted what the music industry planned on doing and what #AmplifyMelinatedVoices asked non-Black people to do as a means of digital protest suppression. Look, social media is a critical tool. It is a tool to educate people about white supremacy. It is a tool for people to learn and reflect on their own anti-Blackness. It is a tool for people to be able to advocate on behalf of victims of police violence, racism, and actually do the work that it takes. It is also an important tool for activism organizers to stay connected, alert people about actions, and alert people about the immediate support that they need should people be jailed, need bail, etc. The idea that Black people are going to be silent in a time when everybody needs to be hearing from us in particular is wild to me, and I don’t know if in the game of telephone what started off as being the music industry’s effort to stop their normal work today and actually learn and hear and reflect on what’s happening, that was a strategy started by two Black women in the industry using the hashtag #theshowmustbepaused, I don’t know if that went down the game of telephone and all of a sudden by the end what people heard was everybody Black out on Tuesday. Or frankly, if somebody saw the intentions of that, coopted it, and is using this as an opportunity to suppress Black voices. We have seen this kind of digital suppression in the election space. We saw it in 2016. We saw It in 2018 with false information being sent out to our communities and actually stopping people from saying and doing the things that matter the most.
Look, police everywhere last night assaulted peaceful protesters. We even saw it in front of the White House just to clear out space for that guy, that resident, who I will not name, to do a photo-op in front of a church and invoke fascist iconography that should be scaring all of us. This is the last moment for Black people in particular to be silent. So, if you want to support in this way and you are Black - put up your Black post, don’t put up your Black post, but definitely do not stop talking. Our voices are the ones that need to be raised to the highest levels. If you are not Black, then I urge you to follow the hashtag #AmplifyMelinatedVoices there are directions that I’ll put on my next post.
Because what those two Black women have asked non-Black people to do is to stop posting their regular content for a week and only post and tag things by Black creators, Black leaders, Black activists, and Black thinkers. If you do that you are actually helping to raise the voices of Black people instead of completely squashing the conversation. If we all get on our instagram and everything is Black we’re not talking about the things that matter.
And if you do decide to put up a Black picture as a post, do not use the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter because what it does is when you click on the hashtag everything in there is Black so suddenly all of the content, all of the art, all of the education, all of the announcements of protesting events, all of those are suddenly buried which again makes it feel like somebody is doing this on purpose. Please do share this around. Not for me, but so our community can continue to be heard when its most necessary.
Stay safe y’all. Stay vigilant. And let’s get free.