Pretty much everyone is aware of the recent controversially in Ferguson Missouri where Michael Brown, a young black man, was shot multiple times by a police officer. The incident sparked outrage throughout the nation about the way young black men are treated by law enforcement and immediately seen as a threat therefore prompting a heightened response and leading to unnecessary violence. But further outrage ensued over the way that Michael Brown was represented in the media.
This was a young man who had been killed in a tragic incident, and yet any sense of respect seemed to go out the window. Irrelevant incidents like shoplifting were immediately brought to light by the media, and it seemed like everything was being done to make him look like a criminal and a thug. But the thing many people found most insulting was the pictures that were being shown of him. This prompted a response from many members of the black community that took form on Twitter.
Young black people began tweeting mashups of two pictures of themselves, one that showed them as an upstanding member of society and one that made them look like a thug with the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown. The point of this was to show that when young black people are killed in these sort of incidents, they are represented in the most negative light possible. These people were saying if they died in the same way Michael Brown did, they knew exactly what picture would be shown.
Some of these pictures broke my heart because I knew the extreme truth they carried. But something that even further upset me was seeing these tweets from young white men. This completely defeats the purpose behind this movement. It’s all about representation of young black men. These kinds of twitter trends hold extreme significance to member of marginalized communities, and it’s important to understand the significance before simply jumping on a band wagon.