EASY ED’S BROADSIDE: Push Play and Never Skip a Beat
Photo by Thomas Breher via Pixabay
If you happened to look at social media on Tuesday, June 2, you might have seen that major corporations, celebrities, activists, artists, musicians, athletes, a current president’s daughter, and a whole bunch of regular folks had posted a big black square on their pages. The idea was conceived by Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang and it started with an action they created called #TheShowMustBePaused. The initiative was started in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others “in observance of the long-standing racism and equality that exists from the boardroom to the boulevard.”
Initially this was aimed directly toward the music industry, because, as its creators point out, it is a business “that has profited predominantly from Black art. To that end, it is the obligation of these entities to protect and empower Black communities that have made them disproportionately wealthy in ways that are measurable and transparent.” #BlackoutTuesday, as it ended up being called, was meant to “take a beat for an honest, reflective and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the Black community.”
According to The Guardian, there were 28,500,000 Instagram posts using the #BlackoutTuesday hashtag. But not everybody was on the same page. For example, “Old Town Road” rapper Lil Nas X tweeted, “I just really think this is the time to push as hard as ever. I don’t think the movement has ever been this powerful. We don’t need to slow it down by posting nothing. We need to spread info and be as loud as ever. What if we posted donation and petitions links on Instagram all at the same time instead of pitch-black images.”
Black author Rodney V. Smith went on Twitter to clarify for him, “#BlackoutTuesday does NOT mean to simply post a black picture and leave social media for the day. It means to stop promoting your own stuff for 24 hours, and instead amplify the voices & projects of Black creators, writers, directors, activists and more. Pass it on.”
Here at No Depression, our managing editor Hilary Saunders published an article a few days before #BlackoutTuesday with a black square as the featured image titled “A Note on Equality, and the Role of a Roots Music Magazine” sharing her thoughts on “the power of music as a tool for social change” and how that reflects the way we present articles. “We are publicly sharing our existing, internal commitment to amplifying underrepresented stories in roots music. We will continue to improve our reporting and work within our editorial, topical, and financial means to share roots music as best we can. Because roots music is really music of the people — all people who are fighting for liberty, justice, and equality.” On #BlackoutTuesday itself, No Depression put a statement of support on social media and shared stories highlighting roots music by black artists in the comments.
Over on my social media pages I chose not to put up a big black square, but I did replace my usual roots music-related posts with images that addressed the horizontal lynching of Mr. Floyd and the lack of leadership in our broken country. I couldn’t go into the city and join the protest as I wanted because I’m still fearful of getting COVID-19, although nobody else seems to care about that anymore. I didn’t need a special day to think or ponder on racism, as it’s been institutionalized into every weave of the fabric we call America, and it’s been in the headlines and on the streets every single day of my life. It’s going to take more than one day or one big black square to change it.
So what did I do on #BlackoutTuesday? I made a donation to Equal Justice Initiative in the morning, and watched the news in the afternoon. I skipped dinner and screened videos I wouldn’t normally watch. I guess some might call it hardcore, but I think of it as just folk music. Instead of looking back or taking a pause, I decided to push play and never skip a beat.
Many of my past columns, articles, and essays can be accessed here at my own site, therealeasyed.com. I also aggregate news and videos on both Flipboard and Facebook as The Real Easy Ed: Americana and Roots Music Daily. My Twitter handle is @therealeasyed and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.