Blackout Tuesday: Kerry Washington, Chance the Rapper and More Explain What You Can Do to Help

ET breaks down the real meaning behind the black squares flooding your Instagram feed.

If social media looks a bit different today, there's a reason.

Following the fatal arrest of George Floyd, and outrage over black lives lost due to police brutality, an effort that many are referring to as "Blackout Tuesday" has surfaced.

The movement went viral after music executives Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang spearheaded an initiative for the music industry with the intention of bringing about policy change through action. Now, a number of individuals, influencers, celebrities and brands have vowed to take part in the blackout.

"In response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other Black citizens at the hands of police, #TheShowMustBePaused is an initiative created by two Black women in music in observance of the long-standing racism and inequality that exists from the boardroom to the boulevard," a joint statement on their website reads. "We will not continue to conduct business as usual without regard for Black lives."

"Tuesday, June 2nd is meant to intentionally disrupt the work week. 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," the statement, which you can read in full here, continues. "This is not just a 24-hour initiative. We are and will be in this fight for the long haul."

You may have seen black squares flooding your Instagram feed, and wondering what it's all about. While the posts have been well-intended, many longtime Black Lives Matter activists, like Kenidra Woods, have urged users not to use the "#BlackLivesMatter" or "#BLM" hashtags while sharing these stark images, as it clogs up important information about the movement. Instead, they are asking those who are participating to use "#BlackoutTuesday," or caption the post with educational information, like how to donate or who to follow to learn more about the cause. 

"Blackout Tuesday is an opportunity to amplify black voices, support black business owners, etcetera -- not mute them," Woods tells ET. "Having black squares under a #blacklivesmatter [hashtag] essentially dilutes the message."

"To be frank, blacking a screen out for a day is not the most effective way to approach this, or help black people for that matter," she adds. "The injustices we face are still gonna be there -- no black screen will save us from that."

Another misconception around Blackout Tuesday is actually staying "silent," as some posts circulating on social media have encouraged. 

"This is definitely not a day to be silent, because at some point, silence is betrayal," Woods explains. "Like, if you see someone being murdered or hurt, you don’t just stand there and watch them suffer; you do something. Essentially, it’s OK to stand with us and speak up when you see blacks being oppressed. It's important to speak up for those who no longer can."

Of course, it takes only one second to post a black box on social media, so if you do decide to participate, make sure you're following through with real action. A number of celebrities, like actress Kerry Washington, filmmaker Ava DuVernay and Chance the Rapper, suggest doing that by donating, signing petitions, learning more about the history of racism in America, amplifying black voices and getting out to vote.

"Don't post the black picture for Blackout Tuesday UNLESS you are going to share some useful information on your stories/on other grid posts. Otherwise, you are not achieving anything, I'm sorry," Chance explained via his Instagram Stories. "Don't post the black picture and then an hour later post something about your personal life/a selfie/OOTD, etc. You are DEFEATING the purpose of Blackout Tuesday."

"If you are lost and don't know what to say or where to start, please use today to research and educate yourself!" he continued. "If you are silent now when the movement is at its most powerful, you are being COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE. Supporting in silence is NOT GOOD ENOUGH. We all need to be vocal as f**k right now!! There is NOTHING to be silent about."

Instagram Stories

"I'm told #BlackOutTuesday began to create space for white folks to learn/talk/read/think about racism? Okay. Add this to your agenda," DuVernay tweeted. "Think about how you can work to dismantle the generations-old systems that encourage and protect police misconduct and murder."

Washington also encouraged her fans to "buy black," sharing a helpful link from Well + Good of black-owned wellness businesses to support right now, and always.

Lil Nas X, meanwhile, argued on Twitter that the blackout is actually "not helping us."

"Ppl need to see what’s going on. Not tryna be announcing but what if we posted donation and petitions links on instagram all at the same time instead of pitch black images," he shared in a series of tweets. "I know y'all mean well but... bro saying stop posting for a day is the worst idea ever."

"I just really think this is the time to push as hard as ever," he added. "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."

For more guidance on what you can do on Blackout Tuesday, check out these helpful links below, curated by Thomas and Agyemang:

If you have been impacted by the recent events, take a break -- there is a lot going on and sometimes we all just need a minute. Take that minute.

Help the family of George Floyd HERE.

Fight for Breonna Taylor HERE.

Help the family of Ahmaud Arbery HERE.

Want to help protesters? Donate to one or more community bail funds HERE.

Visit Movement For Black Lives for additional ways you can help the cause.

Want to connect with leaders building grassroots campaigns? Click HERE.

Are you an ally and want to learn more? Here are some anti-racism resources.