Instagram and your other social media feeds may be going dark today, as people post black squares in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. It's called #BlackOutTuesday, and it's all about listening, learning and amplifying marginalized voices.
The idea started with music industry executives, according to CNN, with the hashtag #theshowmustbepaused. Executives Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang say they wanted to call out "the long-standing racism and inequality that exists from the boardroom to the boulevard," and that they wouldn't be carrying out business as usual during this time of anger and unrest. From there, the idea spread to Hollywood stars like Rihanna, Drake and Kylie jenner, to major brands like Netflix and Disney, to everyday people looking for any way to express their support and their frustration.
If you want to participate, there's more to it than just posting a black square, however.
The idea is to follow up by not posting for the rest of the day, which has a two-fold purpose: giving you time to reflect on ways to help fight social injustice, and making posts by people of color more visible on your timeline. One tip: do NOT add the #blacklivesmatter hashtag to your post so people looking for information on it aren't overwhelmed by pages and pages of black squares to scroll through.
While it's a relatively simple gesture, that small black square can become so powerful if you commit to following up on that second part. If you're a parent, that's especially urgent right now—after all, as President Obama reminded us in an essay posted on Medium this week, "Ultimately, it's going to be up to a new generation of activists to shape strategies that best fit the times."
The minutes you won't waste on social media today can be spent reading up on organizations that are trying to meet this tumultuous moment—you can get started with the Obama Foundation, or the Anti-Defamation League or Common Sense Media. It's an especially important task for white parents, many of whom may be confronting these issues for the first time. As psychologist Dr. Surrenca Albert told Motherly, "Racism is not an inherent concept, it is learned." If we want to do undo generations of racial prejudice and strife in America, parents need to commit to teaching our kids differently.
Albert believes that "having conversations about racism should begin as early as possible," which means there's no better day than today.