Tuesday, June 2, is going to be a quiet day meant to send a loud message from those in the music industry. On this day several major record companies and artists join a national media movement, Blackout Tuesday, that intends to shine a light on the “long-standing racism and inequality” in the music business and American society in general.
With participants ranging from producer Quincy Jones to MTV, Blackout Tuesday is a daylong planned media blackout led by The Show Must Be Paused, an initiative created by black music executives Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang in response to the killings of George Floyd and other black Americans at the hands of police.
For the last four days, Black Lives Matter protests have erupted around the country, beginning in Minneapolis where George Floyd, an African American, was killed in police custody on May 25. The day after Floyd’s death, the Minneapolis Police Department fired all four of the officers involved in the incident, and Hennepin County announced murder and manslaughter charges against Derek Chauvin, the officer who was filmed pinning Floyd to the ground by pressing his knee down on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
Joining those Black Lives Matter protests, The Show Must Be Paused selected Tuesday, June 2, as Blackout Tuesday specifically to interrupt the work week for a day of reflection and conversation about “what actions we need to collectively take to support the Black community.”
In addition, The Show Must Be Paused notes that the billion-dollar music industry has “profited predominantly from Black art,” and they want to hold the industry accountable for supporting those Black artists whose work has benefited others, writing “To that end, it is the obligation of these entities to protect and empower the Black communities that have made them disproportionately wealthy in ways that are measurable and transparent.”
Thomas and Agyemang note that Blackout Tuesday is not just a 24-hour event, adding that a larger plan of action will soon be announced. “In the meantime,” they write, “to our Black friends and family: please take the time for you and your mental health. To our allies, the time is now to have difficult conversations with family, friends and colleagues.”
Announced this last weekend, Blackout Tuesday has already gained major industry allies. On Instagram, producer Quincy Jones joined the movement, writing “It’s hard to know what to say because I’ve been dealing with racism my entire life. That said, it’s rearing its ugly head right now & by God it’s time to deal with it once & for all. My team & I stand for justice. Conversations will be had & action will be taken.”
Other high-profile musicians and companies participating in the June 2 initiative include Peter Gabriel, Billy Bragg, Mumford & Sons, Def Jam Recordings, Interscope, Sony Music and Columbia Records.
In the North Bay, where Black Lives Matter protests are entering their fourth day in cities including Santa Rosa and Napa, BottleRock Napa Valley announced on Twitter that it was joining Blackout Tuesday “for a day of reflection,” adding that it will not be airing “(re)LIVE BottleRock” online this Friday as scheduled.
Music-industry meetup group Balanced Breakfast, which began in the Bay Area and features Santa Rosa and Napa networking meetings for musicians and promoters, is also joining the blackout, posting on its Facebook page, “Due to recent events, please join us as we take an urgent step of action to provoke accountability and change. As gatekeepers of the culture, it’s our responsibility to not only come together to celebrate the wins, but also hold each other up during a loss.”
The Show Must Be Paused website urges those directly impacted by police violence in recent days to take a break for Blackout Tuesday, writing “there is a lot going on and sometimes we all just need a minute. Take that minute.”
The website also directs visitors to links to help George Floyd’s family and others, and provides information on ways to donate to community bail funds for jailed protesters and additional anti-racism resources.