Image Source: Getty / Rafael Henrique
For eight powerful minutes on Monday, no animated shows, zany voices, or lime-green slime appeared on Nickelodeon — just the ebbs and flows of a singular breath as the words "I Can't Breathe" flashed on the screen against a stark black backdrop.
The broadcast was a show of solidarity in honour of George Floyd, who was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis on May 25, and the nationwide protests that have been ongoing since. "Nickelodeon is going off the air for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in support of justice, equality, and human rights," the channel said in a statement shared to Instagram. The timing is meant to symbolize the length of time officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George's neck even as he repeatedly stated he couldn't breathe.
Nickelodeon is one of the many ViacomCBS brands to air the eight-minute broadcast, including MTV, BET, Logo, and CMT. In addition, Nickelodeon shared a "Declaration of Kids' Rights," consisting of proclamations like, "You have the right to be protected from harm, injustice, and hatred." The day prior, Nickelodeon also shared a Black Lives Matter graphic that read, "We stand in solidarity with our Black colleagues, creators, partners, and audiences and condemn all acts of racism, discrimination, and senseless acts of violence."
For help on how to talk to children about racism and inequality, these books offer a good starting point.