Emma Watson is being criticized for 'performative activism' after altering black squares for Blackout Tuesday to seemingly fit her Instagram aesthetic
- Emma Watson faced backlash after posting three images of black squares with white outlines on Instagram.
- The posts were shared for Blackout Tuesday, an initiative launched by members of the music industry to show solidarity amid the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Watson's fans criticized her for appearing to edit the images to fit her Instagram aesthetic.
- They also believed that she should have used her platform and large social media following to share useful information about donating, protesting, or other ways to help.
- Watson later posted a statement saying she'll "be using my bio link and Twitter to share links to resources I've found useful for my own researching, learning, listening..."
On Tuesday, the 30-year-old "Harry Potter" star posted three photos of black squares on her feed with the hashtags, "#blackouttuesday #theshowmustbepaused #amplifymelanatedvoices #amplifyblackvoices."The posts were shared as part of Blackout Tuesday, a social media action meant to show solidarity amid the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality protests across the US.Advertisement
Watson's images drew backlash after fans noticed that the black squares included white borders. Her recent posts followed three white squares that she posted on Saturday without captions.
A post shared by Emma Watson (@emmawatson) on Jun 2, 2020 at 1:49am PDT
People accused the actress of editing the images to adhere to her Instagram feed's aesthetic.
Watson's posts, as well as the Blackout Tuesday movement, have been slammed by social media users.Some people have been including the #BlackLivesMatter and #BLM hashtags in their posts, flooding those hashtag pages and unintentionally concealing useful information and resources. Others have argued that the movement, which was launched by members of the music industry, is well-intentioned but counterproductive. Watson's fans argued that she should use her platform (she has 57.2 million Instagram followers) to be more proactive by sharing information regarding donating, protesting, and other ways to help. They also called her out for being silent on social media until now, accusing her of "performative activism." Advertisement
"Silence is not an option," one fan wrote.
—alice (@intersteIlar) June 2, 2020
—jessie (@grangerslight) June 2, 2020
—alex (@billyselliot) June 2, 2020
—nayeon lyricist (@nayeonsadyke) June 2, 2020
—alice (@intersteIlar) June 2, 2020
— (@gayrauder) June 2, 2020
—rafia |BLM (@repromantics) June 2, 2020
—maz (@Iewyndavis) June 2, 2020
— (@gayrauder) June 2, 2020
—gi (@regulusblackz) June 2, 2020
Other fans came to Watson's defense, saying that she and other celebrities shouldn't feel obligated to publicly voice their support. They also argued that's it's unclear if the "Little Women" star privately took action to support the movement.
—⟭⟬ michelle⁷ ⟭⟬ | Black Lives Matter! (@PlaceSeoul) June 2, 2020
—OfficialRadish! (@motorcross8) June 2, 2020
—green (@__LearnWithMe) June 2, 2020Watson later shared two new posts on her Instagram, saying that she was "holding off posting until #blackouttuesday ended in the UK." Her first post included artwork and a poem by Dr. Fahamu Pecou, an American visual artist. Advertisement
I was holding off posting until #blackouttuesday ended in the UK. The Artwork of my brilliant dear friend @fahamupecou “White Lies, Subtleties, Micro-Aggressions, and Other Choking Hazards” B R O K E N O P E N (poem + text from the series BLACK MATTER LIVES) by Dr Fahamu Pecou broken broke and hoping broke in, hoping broke. end. hoping... bro! kin hopin’! broken... hopin. broken. open. broken open! (Break) “We can not be broken. We do not break. For too long we’ve been afraid that their violence would end us. But we are still here. Some they took, but they’ve all come back. They never truly left. We never truly leave. Like the police and other systems they’ve weaponized against us, the names of those they tried to silence go off in their ears like nuclear bombs. Names that swell in their throats and linger until they can no longer breathe. So let us haunt their dreams and their waking moments alike. Say their names: Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. Let them see us. Let them hear us. No friends, we have nothing to fear. An army of Egungun warriors walk amongst us. They have tried, and for centuries they have failed to violate us... to silence us. This is not breaking. This is opening. The cracks are windows. The holes are doors. Shine your light through.” - Dr. Fahamu Pecou Say their names #AhmaudArbery #BreonnaTaylor #GeorgeFloyd
A post shared by Emma Watson (@emmawatson) on Jun 2, 2020 at 4:00pm PDT
Watson's second post was a statement from Watson herself that read: "There is so much racism, both in our past and present, that is not acknowledged nor accounted for. White supremacy is one of the systems of hierarchy and dominance, of exploitation and oppression, that is tightly stitched into society. As a white person, I have benefited from this..."
"Whilst we might feel that, as individuals, we're working hard internally to be anti-racist, we need to work harder externally to actively tackle the structural and institutional racism around us. I'm still learning about the many ways I unconsciously support and uphold a system that is structurally racist," Watson continued.She added, "Over the coming days, I'll be using my bio link and Twitter to share links to resources I've found useful for my own researching, learning, listening ... I see your anger, sadness and pain. I cannot know what this feels like for you but it doesn't mean I won't try to."Advertisement
Watson's actions also drew criticism because she's previously been outspoken about supporting various causes and initiatives.
A post shared by Emma Watson (@emmawatson) on Jun 2, 2020 at 4:03pm PDT
The "Little Women" star is a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador who has given speeches at the United Nations, traveled to other countries to raise awareness about global issues, and launched the HeForShe campaign in response to gender inequalities.In addition, Watson created an Instagram account in which she shares images and information about sustainable, environmentally friendly clothing worn by her during press appearances. She's also been outspoken about her support for Time's Up and the Me Too movement. Advertisement
Thank you to everyone who has been part of TIME'S UP over the past year. From my sisters in the film industry to the activists and campaigners around the world who have supported us, I've been so inspired by the way people have reached out to each other, shared experiences and advice, and organised together as part of this movement for change. Gender equality can only become a reality if we harness the transformative power of solidarity across professions and across borders. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ There’s still a long way to go, but the achievements so far make me optimistic for a fairer future. 2018 was just the beginning. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ See link in bio for some reflections on the journey of Time’s Up that I shared with @cnn.
A post shared by Emma Watson (@emmawatson) on Jan 4, 2019 at 6:25pm PST
The actress has spoken about being labeled a "white feminist" and acknowledged her privilege in a 2017 letter addressed to members of her book club, Our Shared Shelf."As human beings, as friends, as family members, as partners, we all have blind spots; we need people that love us to call us out and then walk with us while we do the work," Watson wrote.Watson isn't the only celebrity to participate in Blackout Tuesday, or react to the Black Lives Matter movement.Advertisement
Stars like Ariana Grande, Timothée Chalamet, and Halsey have participated in protests in response to the deaths of people like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many more. Halsey was also seen assisting protesters who got injured. Other stars, like Seth Rogen and Harry Styles, have donated money to bail relief-funds.
This post was updated to include Watson's two additional Instagram posts.
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- Here's everything you need to know about Blackout Tuesday and #TheShowMustBePaused initiatives
- People are flooding social media with black squares for Blackout Tuesday, but critics say they could do more harm than good for the Black Lives Matter protests
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