#IfTheyGunnedMeDown is the hashtag that has challenged the media and its distorted view of the black youth.
A top trend around the world yesterday, this hashtag was sparked by Mike Brown, the young, African American who was shot and killed by a police officer in his hometown of Ferguson, MO, USA on Saturday 9th August.
With protests taking place in Ferguson, the power of Twitter was also utilised when the media’s portrayal of 18 year old Mike was criticised.
The photo of Mike on the left is the only image many will know of because that is the one that has been used most.
The photo on the right has reportedly been used too but who remembers that?
Which image has the media repeatedly chosen to use to represent this young man who lost his life over a matter that is still unclear?
Because of the media’s portrayal of black people, the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown trended worldwide in a demonstration that saw many post two pictures of themselves. One portrayed the person in a positive light and the other in a negative/ less than positive light.
With these two images, Twitter users urged followers of the trend to consider which the media would use if they were gunned down.
Would the media use the graduation photo that shows that you have an education and drive or would they use that four year old photo of you posing with a bottle of rum and doing some crazy hand sign which will be misconstrued as a gang sign – the photo that enforces age old stereotypes.
This one hashtag had and still has the power to make you question why the media insists on using the image of Mike on the left.
He was unarmed and gunned down yet this image will have many feeling a host of things before sympathy even enters their minds.
The stereotypes surrounding the young black male are already high yet the media continue to fuel the fire even when they have another option; a choice to do the right thing.
And whilst a hashtag isn’t going to stop anything, it can and will bring issues to light because regardless of age, race and background, this hashtag had and still has users questioning the way the media portrays the deaths of black people – ‘minority’ people.
It has left many of us wondering, #IfTheyGunnedMeDown what picture would they use?
Images do not belong to @MissVenShaw