An unnamed student from Guatemala posted a photo of herself with the caption “The #blackout” during the protests against a school budget cuts on Twitter.
The tweet has since been deleted, but the post has drawn the ire of some social media users who say it’s a blatant example of appropriation.
“The photo was not a meme,” wrote one user.
“It was a real picture of her.”
A different user tweeted: “If @GatoGato is so offended by @blackout_tweet, he can just delete the photo and send the student to the next class with the same punishment.”
One user wrote: “This is cultural appropriation at its most extreme.
This is what #blackouts are about.
If you want to talk about cultural appropriation, you should be talking about genocide, or at least how genocide is being perpetrated against Indigenous communities.”
“I don’t think it’s appropriate for a student to use that as a meme for a protest,” the student said.
“If I had tweeted it like, ‘The #Blackout is coming, we’ll go to the schools tomorrow with all of our money, our time, and our bodies, and we’re going to take over all the schools in Guatemala,’ that would be cultural appropriation.”
It was one of several hashtags on Twitter used to describe the protests that followed the school’s budget cuts, which came after students protested against the cuts.
The hashtags #blacktuesday, #blackdown, #schoolsareclosed and #blacknest have all been used in the past week to describe a variety of protests.
The hashtag #blacknight, also used to refer to protests, has also been used to discuss the protests and has since gained some traction on social media.
But while hashtags like #blackup, #shutdown, and #shutout have gained traction in recent days, some have criticized the use of #blackingout as an attack on students’ ability to express themselves.
Twitter user @kategopran wrote in a tweet that hashtags are not supposed to be a shield against abuse.
“We’ve all seen how a hashtag like #BlackOut can be used as a shield for abuse of others,” she wrote.
“People on Twitter can easily see how a particular hashtag can be abused for the purposes of being a shield.”
She added: “It is important to note that hashtagging has nothing to do with what people think of as appropriation.”
While some users defended the hashtag, others expressed concern over the use.
“I have always believed that #BlackNight was a hashtag meant to address racism and inequality in the US, not for #Blackouts,” wrote @susan_vogel.
“Its time for us to stand up for ourselves and our fellow human beings, and stop this nonsense.”
Twitter users responded by saying that the hashtag was not meant to be used against Black people.
“A hashtag is just an abbreviation of a hashtag,” wrote user @joe_vansant.
“The people that use the hashtag are just trying to get the attention they want.
It’s not meant for Black people.”
Another user, @brianbrian, said: “The fact that we have #black out is not something that the media and politicians should be discussing.”
He continued: “We should be making sure that #black up is not used against people of color.
#black night is not meant against Black girls.
#BlackNest is not intended to be offensive to Black people, Black women, Black men, or Black LGBTQIA+ folks.”
In response to the hashtag being used as an excuse for violence against Black students, another user responded with the hashtag #stopusingblackout.
Some people argued that the hashtags were used to avoid addressing the issue of racism.
“I understand that #saying #blackness isnt racism is a hashtag that is meant to give us some kind of cover from our own oppression, but it does not address the real issue,” wrote another user.
A number of people have also criticised the use, including @wes_dahlberg, who tweeted: “#BlackOut was intended to empower black women, not be a weapon against Black men.”
He also said: “[Black women] were targeted for their body parts, and the only way they were able to express their rage was to use hashtags that were racist and offensive.”
A number also commented that the use was racist and discriminatory, adding: “White people are the ones who are saying that #Blacksout is not a #BlackPower hashtag.
#BLM is not an issue.”