The first Blackout Day began on March 6th 2015 by Tumblr user T’von . The goal was, and always will be, for people to highlight the beauty of blackness. Many members of the online black community, myself included, uploaded selfies to our social media accounts with the #blackout hashtag. On top of this, many non-black allies uploaded pictures of influential black celebrities or pictures of their loved ones with the hashtag.
There’s no denying that these events have been a huge hit, giving people of color everywhere an extreme confidence boost, and this is why we can’t ever let the momentum die down.
The #blackout hashtag is still being utilized on Tumblr; if you search for the tag and scroll down you will be graced by images of people with gorgeous melanin skin. T’von created #blackout with the intention of it taking place the first Friday of every month.
The next one is scheduled for May 1st, in fact a list of the dates are planned for the rest of the year, with the September day taking place on Queen Bee’s birthday! Having dates set in stone make it difficult for people to forget about this great day.
Like T’von says, “Black History Month is always excellent, but one month isn’t enough to celebrate our heritage and our beauty.”
T’von is right: black beauty doesn’t get the recognition it deserves year-round. Here’s a list of why we should implement the #blackout hashtag more than one month; or even one day out of the month!
Black beauty is often ignored in mainstream media
T’von started Blackout Day because he realized that his Tumblr dashboard was severely lacking black faces (and this is on, supposedly, one of the most diverse websites out there).
In mainstream media, the attention brought to black beauty is even more lacking. This is why it was so significant when Lupita Nyong’o was on the front cover of “People’s Most Beautiful” issue. She is the third black woman to be on the cover in the 25 years that the magazine’s Most Beautiful list has been published. She is also the first woman with a dark skinned complexion to ever be on the cover.
For men of color, the representation in the media isn’t much better. Denzel Washington is the only man of color to be deemed one of People’s sexiest man alive, back in 1996.
This is why Nyong’o’s speech about beauty hit home for so many. She grew up seeing mainly typically Caucasian features, lauded as being more coveted than any other kind of face. The supermodel Alex Wek inspired her to love her dark skin, showing her that she,too, was and is just as beautiful.
Visibility is important, so if the media won’t give it to us, then we have to take matters into our own hands. This is where #blackoutcomes in, and why it’s so important to us.
Selfies can Improve Self Love
What makes #blackout so important is that it is black people ourselves are asserting our right to be seen. With the click of a cellphone the ability to seen is now available to the public. We don’t need a reason other than the fact that we are proud of who we are. The selfies we post with the #blackout tag reflect the love we have for ourselves and our people.
Selfies can be considered an art form, an empowering one at that, so why not make art of ourselves? A lot of us can relate to the idea that selfies positively impact our self esteem, but it’s also scientifically theorized that selfies are directly linked to an increase in self esteem. So why would anyone want to bash both art and science? Selfies tell the world that we deserve to take up space, just as much as anybody else. The power of #blackout is that we can’t be ignored when we put ourselves out en masse.
We declare that we know we’re beautiful and are not afraid to show it. Self-love isn’t, and shouldn’t be, regulated to one day. It should be practiced every day. I won’t complain if see more beautiful black faces on my Tumblr dashboard or Instagram feed.
Black Culture Is Diverse
I think my favorite thing about #blackout was how many stereotypes were dismantled that day. The mainstream media may try to limit what black people can do and who black people can be, but we have the power to show them who we really are.
Every member of the black community was encouraged to participate in Blackout Day, so we really got to see a wide range of personalities, nationalities, shapes, styles, and skin tones. It should be obvious that not every member of a particular race is the same, but unfortunately in 2015 we still have people who say things like “You don’t act/look black.” #blackout made a statement that there is no one way to be black.
There are French speaking black people, Muslim black people, Jewish black people, gothic black people, sassy black people, disabled black people, large black people, slim black people, shy black people, queer black people, albino black people, nerdy black people; the list is endless. We won’t be put into a box that we can’t all even fit into.
White Out day is Everyday
As successful as the first Blackout Day was, there was minor backlash from some white people who felt it was “unfair.” They thought that the black community was “pulling the race card” and being hypocritical with their definition of equality. There were even some white people who tried to appropriate the #blackout hashtag with their own pictures. Some even complained that we needed an official Whiteout Day, as if every day isn’t already whiteout day.
Luckily Tumblr bombarded the #whiteout tag with images of actual bottles of whiteout, before Whiteout Day could become a thing. White privilege can make it difficult for some white people to see how much their race is recognized every day. Whiteness is considered the default in our society. If they are really offended by something as innocent as selfies, then what does that say about our society?
We should all try to promote black excellence all the time. We can show off our own beautiful black faces to the world, share images of black beauty, share stories of black success, or support black businesses and media. These are just the little actions we can incorporate into our daily lives that glorify blackness. With all the hardship our people have faced and continue to fight, it’s nice to highlight the positives for a change.
See you May 1st for the next Blackout Day!