The death of George Floyd sparked the United States’ most intense civil unrest for generations, and as with any social movement in the internet age, there’s been a social media response, too. #BlackOutTuesday saw millions of people post black squares on their accounts as a mark of protest at racial injustice, but that mark has been quickly latched on to by more than just people. Multinational corporations, charities, football clubs…if you can think of it, they’ve probably made a statement.
For a variety of reasons, these “blackouts” haven’t been met with an entirely positive response. In fact, the Twitter account for popular zombie drama The Walking Dead has publicly acknowledged as much. Earlier this week, they made no apologies for backing Black Lives Matter, issuing the following riposte to those who chose to unfollow them:
Looks like we lost quite a few followers after posting about #BLM. We hope those who left educate themselves on these vital racial issues and learn to stand alongside their Black neighbors. #TWDFamily prides itself on its diversity. And if you want to leave over this, then ✌?
— The Walking Dead (@TheWalkingDead) June 3, 2020
I understand the mixed feelings that #BLM protesters have about the manner in which corporate media have co-opted the blackout campaign. It’s a murky issue that I don’t have a fully formed opinion on. But as far as the backlash from the cry-virtue signalers goes, put-downs like this have my full respect. There’s no grey area with regards to #BLM or #AllLivesMatter – if you retweet the latter you’re a boneheaded ignoramus in dire need of edification.
A similar tweet came from English soccer team West Bromwich Albion, who responded to a fan who said he wouldn’t be renewing his season ticket as a result of the club’s #BlackOut support. Their reply simply read: “You won’t be missed.”
Are Twitter put-downs going to end institutional racism? Of course not. But it’s a zero tolerance stance. Activists should cut those trying to help some slack and focus on the real problem, because corporate support isn’t it. The Walking Dead included.