When Instagram users reach for their phones to perform their usual scrolling routine this morning, they’re probably noticing that their feed is unusually active. Millions of users, including those who only share once a blue moon, have posted a blank black image, accompanied by the caption “#blackouttuesday.”

This trending hashtag is meant to encourage people to participate in a “blackout” for 24 hours, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Though the original instructions were not specific about what actions to take, the organizers advised participants via the original flyer to “take a break,” “help” and “fight.”

The Observatory, a popular music venue in Santa Ana, is joining the “blackout” and using it to promote change. While the club’s operations are put on standby, its sole business focus for the day will be to hold a productive conversation with colleagues and employers regarding steps that could contribute to the fight against racism.

Pacific Symphony also announced its support on Instagram today for the black community. In the post, the organization expressed its devotion to greater equality and pledged to instill unity “through the transformative and universal language of music.”

The #blackouttuesday movement was inspired in part by two influential black women who are prominent music-industry veterans. Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang organized their “TheShowMustBePaused” initiative in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other black citizens who have been unjustly killed by law enforcers. 

According to their website, today will be a day of disruption and reflection. The women said it is meant to hold powerful industries and leaders accountable for the exploitation of countless black lives who have helped give them wealth and political influence. 

“It is a day to take a beat for an honest, reflective and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the black community,” said a statement on the women’s website. 

Thomas, Atlantic Records senior director of marketing, and Agyemang, who formerly held that position, seek the support of music industry giants as well as its consumers. 

Atlantic Records and Warner Music Group will be participating in “Black Out Tuesday” by pausing its business to reflect on ways to better support and help the black community. Apple Music also made a statement on the “For You” page of its app, providing users with the option to “Listen Together” to music produced by black artists. 

Spotify, Amazon Music, SoundCloud and other corporations have shown their support for the black community and today’s “black out” through their social media and in-app experiences as well. 

Several sources on social media have mentioned the importance of tagging “blackouttuesday” or “theshowmustbepaused” instead of “blacklivesmatter” to avoid drowning out important updates or protest information that can be found on the latter hashtag. 

Many have also voiced their concern over posting an inactionable black screen that only shows support in theory. Twitter users encouraged breaching the trend’s surface and bringing awareness to more active measures, such as including and promoting helpful links to articles or petitions in their posts.

As of 10:30 a.m., there were a total of 19.2 million posts with the #blackouttuesday hashtag. 

Kim Pham is an intern for Voice of OC Arts & Culture. She can be reached at kimhphm@gmail.com.

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