You might have seen the hashtag #BlackOutDay somewhere on social media today. If you haven’t, you will soon. Twitter says the tag has been used nearly half a million times in the last 24 hours, and it’s all thanks to a dedicated Karma user and three internet friends who decided there were not enough photos of black people being shared online and decided to do something about it. The result was an outpouring of pride, and even heartwarming stories from people who felt empowered by BlackOutDay’s message.
One of the most impressive aspects of this viral movement is that the organizers have never even met. The entire idea started on Tumblr, where four users organically connected in order to choose a hashtag. Karma user Matthew King-Yarde, known online as nukirk.digi.tal, designed the visual representation for the idea, and suddenly, the movement took off. “One person said something, another person added something, and it just snowballed,” he told us via a phone interview.
BlackOutDay is truly an online-only movement, organized entirely on the internet and suggestive of internet’s power to spread not just information, but meaningful ideas.
Nukirk.digi.tal told us, “As soon as midnight rolled around last night, I refreshed tumblr and all of a sudden my dashboard was just filled with black people. I had never seen that in my life. I expected something out of this, but I never expected it to go this well.”
One of the most widely shared and most powerful images posted with the #BlackOutDay hashtag was from a Tumblr user who had never posted a photo of himself online—until today. He tagged a selfie with tears in his eyes and wrote, “Sorry I’m crying. As someone in my position; Bisexual, disabled (hearing impaired), not confident in my appearance, and struggling, I tend to avoid posting pictures for a movement. Even if it is one meant to motivate, inspire, and more.” It’s a rare example of positivity and empowerment in a space where the internet is often used for bullying and negativity.
One user's moving BlackOutDay selfie
Nukirk.digi.tal says he’s proud of what he’s created, but even more proud of the people who have shared their stories. “People are starting to see why diversity is needed and starting to look into structural racism, systemic racism. It’s important that we have these conversations. But when you hear these conversations, it’s usually about what the media wants to talk about. This is our chance for everyday people to finally have a voice: this is who we are, we’re here, we’re proud, we want you to listen to us.”
Image by nukirk.digi.tal