If They Gunned Me Down

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.


3 thoughts on “If They Gunned Me Down

  1. I completely agree with how you felt about how disturbing-ly unaccurate media chooses to be when they portray young black males as “thugs” instead of just normal people. It’s very upsetting. I think Black Twitter was very creative about how they went about trending this on Twitter, I liked the comparison pictures everyone decided to tweet in. Now when I say everyone, I originally meant I was happy to see all types of people coming together – white, black, mexican, hispanic, etc. to display their respect/participate in showing how the media can choose to represent them vs. what they are truly like. It was interesting to see how that part upset you though, and I can understand why – it doesn’t necessiarly focus on the type of person being discriminated against. I guess in my opinion though, I just think it brings about a sense of unity of everyone from different backgrounds all supporting the same cause.


    • Actually I do agree with both of you to some extend. Firstly I think that the use of social media to fight against discrimination should be applied to people from any races and different background, especially to people in dominant group because it could increase the influence of the campaign, and I hope that white guys using such hashtag do use it with that intention. However, I do agree that “it’s important to understand the significance before simply jumping on a band wagon” because it makes no sense and might become disrespectful in some ways if people “simply jumping on a band wagon”.


  2. This is a sad reality, as when controversial cases concerning race reach the media they often start by negatively portraying the minority or marginalized group. I’m not sure how exactly we could fix this problem, as it seems to be rooted in the media systems currently at work. I think it is important for the hashtag “iftheygunnedmedown” to go viral in all of twitter, not solely Black Twitter. This will make issues surrounding race in crimes become more apparent to the dominant group in society, and may have a larger impact on society.


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