What Is Blackout Tuesday? Black-Owned Businesses See Surge of Customers

July 7 is BlackOut Tuesday, a national boycott against all businesses except those which are Black-owned. The event's organizing group, The BlackOut Coalition, said the event is meant to exercise the Black community's economic power to help combat anti-Black racism.

The movement seems to have at least made an initial impact online as Google Trends, a Google website that analyzes top search queries in Google Search, says searches for "Black-owned business near me" have dramatically increased.

"'We buy black' spiked +3,750% and 'Is today Blackout Tuesday?' surged +2,650%, over the past day," Google Trends wrote Tuesday on its Twitter account.

In a May 27 Instagram post, The BlackOut Coalition wrote that BlackOut Tuesday seeks to stop anti-Black violence—especially the murder of Black community leaders, a repeal of racist legislation, fairer access to institutional funding and non-interference with the strengthening Black-owned businesses and communities.

"We need economic solidarity in America amongst all black people unequivocally," the post stated. "Black people alone account for an estimated 1.2 trillion dollars or more of spending in the economy annually," a figure backed up by Nielsen, the American data firm.

Calvin Martyr, the Texas-based businessman who founded the coalition, compares BlackOut Tuesday to the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott in which Black Alabamans refused to ride public busses until the state changes its laws forcing Black riders sit in the back of the public busses.

"That right there is what caused the civil-rights legislation to come," Martyr said in a May YouTube video about the idea. "The only way we're going to get change is when they fear hurting us like we fear hurting them."

Towards that end, the BlackOut Coalition's website lists a directory of Black-owned businesses that Black business owners can join.

BlackOut Tuesday Black-owned businesses
James Robinson and his wife Perlina Robinson pose for a portrait in The Formalwear store on Blackout Day 2020 on July 07, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida. They have owned the business for the last 22 years. Supporters of Blackout Day have committed to only spending money at black-owned businesses to showcase the economic power of the Black community. Joe Raedle/Getty

BlackOut Tuesday in July 2020 has the exact same name as a June 2 protest event spearheaded by the music industry that eventually influenced social media users.

The organizers of the June 2 protest, Black female recording industry executives Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas, wrote in a joint statement, "Our mission is to hold the industry at large, including major corporations + their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of Black people accountable."

"To that end," they continued, "it is the obligation of these entities to protect and empower the Black communities that have made them disproportionately wealthy in ways that are measurable and transparent."

While major record labels like Universal Music Group, Atlantic Records, Capitol Music Group, Warner Records, Columbia Records, Def Jam, Elektra Music Group, Sony Music and Virgin EMI, pledged to halt all business on June 2, it's not entirely clear what actions they and other music companies have planned in the long term to protect and empower Black communities.

The protest eventually expanded to non-music industry-related social media users as many replaced their social media profile photos with a black square in solidarity with Black communities.

On June 2, social media users also avoided posting or using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter in order to clear social media channels to center Black lives, Black voices and Black activists using #BlackLivesMatter to organize community protests.