[Charlotte Mullin | Contributing Writer]
It started as a simple idea on Tumblr: for a 24-hour period on the first Friday of the month, users would celebrate black beauty in all of its forms by exclusively posting and reblogging selfies of black people. On March 6th, #BlackOutDay exploded into action, and its success was phenomenal – not just on Tumblr, but on pretty much every other social networking site, with the tag racking up over 1 million photos on Instagram and becoming one of the top Twitter trends in the United States.
So why did it happen? One of the co-creators, T’von, explains his inspiration for the event here. The idea arose after he noticed a lack of black people on his dashboard, and was strengthened by a desire to extend black pride far beyond its relegation to a single month:
“Of course I see a constant amount of Black celebrities but what about the regular people? Where is their shine? … celebrating the beauty of Blackness is of the UTMOST importance. I’m really sick and tired of seeing the “European standard of beauty” prevail … Black History Month is always excellent, but one month isn’t enough to celebrate our heritage and our beauty.”
Following that, a tag was created by one Tumblr user and informational graphics by another, and after some promotion from famous bloggers, Friday heralded a wave of self-love and confidence. My dashboard was flooded with gorgeous people absolutely slaying it.
The wide variety of folks in the photos was staggering; black people of every gender identity, every sexuality, every religion, every body type, every age; black people with albinism, or vitiligo, or a disability…Every type of person you could imagine posed for a photo, sealing #BlackOutDay’s status as one of the most heart-warming, body positive trends to ever impact social media. Its influence has been so profoundly beautiful that it’s difficult to fathom why somebody would want to ruin it, but of course, there’s always a group of people who can’t refrain themselves from being terrible.
Although it is now (thankfully) full of people dismissing the notion entirely, the hashtag ‘Whiteout’ gained momentum on Twitter, because some people just can’t handle the world not revolving around them for five seconds. Personally, I am disgusted that other white folks would be so disrespectful and ignorant, as if #BlackOutDay is in any way oppressive towards us. Let me be as clear as I can: #Whiteout is not necessary because every single day is white pride day. Western media is dominated by white people; modelling, television and movies are completely whitewashed industries. We are not lacking in the representation department, nor are we short of reassurement of our value. Consider as well the horrendous treatment that black people face, which ranges from being shamed for their cultural hallmarks, to facing police brutality, and even to the murder of transwomen receiving media silence. They deserve some form of validation to counteract such injustices, and while you can say what you want about selfie culture, it’s undeniable that #BlackOutDay has been remarkable in celebration of black beauty. To complain about one single day being dedicated to it is nothing short of pathetic and, to be honest, inherently racist. The image directly below particularly captures the true spirit of #BlackOutDay, which was of overwhelming kindness and positivity, and expresses exactly why that is so important.
There is an active effort on Tumblr to have the event on the first Friday of every month, and I know I’m not alone in hoping that will become a reality; after all, if the internet can become obsessed with the colour of a dress, surely it can make #BlackOutDay a new tradition.