Black Out Tuesday was created by Jamila Thomas, senior director of marketing at Atlantic Records, and Brianna Agyemang, the senior artist campaign manager at Platoon. Tuesday 2 June 2020 saw business as usual halt in solidarity for black lives.
The entire world was shaken by the inhumane loss of George Floyd. Sadly he is not the only one whose life has been stolen at the hands of police brutality and racism – there are hundreds more, including recent cases Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. This had an effect on the black community I personally have never seen in my lifetime. Over the last week or so, I have seen and felt a sense of togetherness and support for black people, which we deserve… it is about time.
For me, Black Out Tuesday was a day of reflection and homage, and an opportunity to encourage a profound, uninterrupted level of education within our respective organisations. We used the opportunity to have an open dialogue, amplify black voices, address imperfections in our own policies, and discuss next steps towards tackling prejudice, discrimination and the outright racism black people are forced to endure.
Without this day, a lot of us wouldn’t have been able to gain the attention of our non-black counterparts; we wouldn’t have been able to open the dialogue with the same altitude of poise and tenacity.
Failure to address these key issues makes you complicit
So, what are the next steps?
The issues have been identified – now it’s time to present the facts. Where are your ethnicity pay gap and employee satisfaction reports? If they don’t exist, now is a good time to populate that data and work towards a safer space for black employees. Data is an extremely important tool and necessary for change.
If you have the capacity to roll out anti-racism training, do so. Educate where possible, and call out racist behaviour, because failure to address these key issues makes you complicit.
If you’re reading this and you’re an executive, a business owner, a manager, a CEO, a founder or anything in between, please ask yourself, “What can I do to spark change? What can I do to make sure my company policies reflect the black square I posted on Tuesday?”
This isn’t a gimmick: systemic and institutionalised racism affects people’s lives, and you have a duty of care.
This is a battle we have been fighting since the beginning of time and will continue to fight until there is real change. If Black Out Tuesday taught me anything, it’s that there is strength in numbers.
Jane Elliot: Blue-eyed/brown-eyed experiment
Jane Elliot, an anti-racist activist and educator, devised this experiment following the assassination of Martin Luther King.
BFI collection: Black Lives
Portraits of public and private lives against the shifting social climate of 20th-century Britain.
BBC documentary: Will Britain Ever Have a Black Prime Minister?
Unfiltered with James O’Brien: Akala deconstructs race and class
BBC documentary: The Secret Windrush Files
Reni Lodge: Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race
Afua Hirsh: Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging
Ibram X. Kendi: How to Be an Antiracist
Ijeoma Oluo: So You Want to Talk About Race
Robin DiAngelo: White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People to Talk About Racism
Michelle Alexander: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
Black LGBTQIA Therapy Fund
A collective creating safer, all-inclusive spaces, good fortune and equal opportunities for women and non-binary folks in the creative industry.
Black Ticket Project
Award-winning initiative creating cultural access points for black young people.
Exist Loudly Fund to Support Queer Black YP
This article originally appeared in issue 90 of IQ Magazine (July 2020). Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.