The one thing Harry Potter fame Emma Watson has been consistent about is her good image, positive vibes, and standing for the right causes. But when she decided to add her voice to the widespread social media initiative, #BlackoutTuesday under the Black Lives Matter movement, she had zero inklings that it would backfire and receive a severe backlash, with her being labeled a “white feminist” and accused of “prioritizing her Instagram aesthetic” over the posts.
Many on social media have embraced the 24-hour blackout i.e., #BlackoutTuesday, to support the fight for equality following the death of George Floyd, a black man, by a Minneapolis police officer on 25th May. The blackout supporters, under the Black Lives Matter movement, were to pause all self-promotional posts as well as commercial content and post a black square on their Instagram account, while sharing information about police brutality and community updates.
It all started with Emma Watson posting not one but three black square in support of #BlackoutTuesdays
But captioned with hashtags — #BlackoutTuesday, #TheShowMustBePaused, #AmplifyMelanatedVoices, and #AmplifyBlackVoices- it was not the number of the squares that triggered the backlash. It was Watson editing the black squares and adding a white border around it to match the pattern of her Instagram feed.
Her 57.2 million fans were quick to notice the editing and accused Emma Watson for being more concerned over preserving the aesthetic of her Instagram page. One thing led to another and soon, many started calling her out for not having said a word about George Floyd’s tragic demise or the violent protests in its wake.
And in no time, Emma Watson was trending on Twitter but for all the wrong reasons
Many criticized her for being a “white feminist” for editing the black squares and how “it literally contributes NOTHING” to the ever-present racial tensions.
Instead of directly addressing the criticisms, Emma Watson addressed the rampant racism everywhere by telling her followers that “I stand with you”
First, she shared a piece of artwork by her friend Dr. Fahamu Pecou, called White Lies, Subtleties, Micro-Aggressions, and Other Choking Hazards, while mentioning all the lives lost to racism.
In her next post, Watson addressed the racism, existing “both in our past and present”, that has never been “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,” read her post.
She urged her followers to “work harder” to understand “the structural and institutional racism around us” while admitting that she is “still learning” how she is “unconsciously” supporting a “structurally racist” system