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Lil Nas X and Kehlani slam #BlackoutTuesday trend, say it misses the point: 'People need to see what's going on'

Nearly 28 million people reportedly used #BlackoutTuesday hashtag in an attempt to show solidarity after George Floyd's death
Lil Nas X, Kehlani (Getty Images)
Lil Nas X, Kehlani (Getty Images)

The #BlackoutTuesday movement, called for on June 2, faced heavy backlash as multiple activists and artists called it "embarrassing," "harmful," and "counterproductive" to the ongoing protests after George Floyd's death. Rapper Lil Nas X and singer Kehlani were among the many who denounced the online trend where people, including celebrities, posted plain black squares on their Instagram feed, abandoning social media for the day. 

Nearly 28 million people reportedly used #BlackoutTuesday hashtag in an attempt to show solidarity after Floyd's death. Some of the celebrities who participated in the trend included Kylie Jenner, Taylor Swift, Madonna, Oprah, Jennifer Aniston, and Emma Watson. Critics, however, accused them of missing the point of the movement, meant to give a halt to promotional posts to allow "conversation". Social media platforms, like Instagram, instead were flooded with black squares which drowned out "vital dialogue" on racism and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Many others denounced the blackout as a "performative trend," which permitted people to "wash their hands of activism" without taking any real action to participate in the ongoing protests.

Kehlani attends the Warner Music Group Pre-Grammy Party (Getty Images)

Kehlani questioned the trend, saying it was "kinda dangerous" for people to abandon social media in the middle of a crisis. The singer wrote: "While I do appreciate the idea... don't y'all think to get getting off our form of communicating with each other, sharing info, seeing news... for a whole day... in the middle of a war on us.. is kinda dangerous?"

"When people click that hashtag, they need to see what's going on," the Grammy-nominated singer, who is mixed-race, tweeted. "They need to see it harshly, vividly, accurately, in their faces. The messages are mixed across the board and i really hope it doesn't have a negative effect." The singer later clarified that she supported the original idea behind the blackout of "disrupting the music industry for a day" but criticized "a bunch of suits on Instagram saying Blackout Tuesday for the industry."

The blackout was reportedly the idea of two black women who work in the music industry, Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang. They had called the movement to "disconnect from work and reconnect with our community" by holding off on hype surrounding the music industry in an attempt to address the current crisis.  "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 duo said. Agyemang, however, later posted on Instagram, writing that "the purpose was never to mute ourselves." Hollywood A-listers, nonetheless, did just that by posting a succession of empty black squares.

Lil Nas X performs during Internet Live By BuzzFeed in New York City (Getty Images)

Rapper Lil Nas X also slammed the trend, saying he would have rather preferred people to post donation and petition links in their posts instead of empty black squares. "I know y'all mean well but... bro saying stop posting for a day is the worst idea ever," he said. "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."

The blackout was also criticized by NBC host Jacque Reid, who said that it did not "makes sense" and instead caused "issues" for people trying to share information about racial injustice. "It seems counterproductive," Reid said, adding that "the purpose for today was not just to bulk out your social and do nothing."