In response to the media’s coverage of the police killing of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., Twitter has reverberated in recent days with people questioning how they would be portrayed if they, too, met the same fate.
Using the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, people on Twitter have expressed outrage at how some in the media depict minorities, which often differs with how whites are portrayed.
As The Root explained it, “the narrative the media paints surrounding black people in America more often than not includes depicting us as violent thugs with gang and drug affiliations.”
Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed by a police officer on Saturday in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis. Differing accounts by police officers and eyewitnesses have cast doubt on the details of the shooting and the FBI has gotten involved in the investigation.
The response on Twitter was spurred by the use of two different photos of Brown following his death. In one, Brown is shown holding up two fingers as he poses for the camera, which some interpreted as an attempt to portray him in a negative light.
— The Root (@TheRoot) August 12, 2014
In protest, black men and women posted side-by-side photos of themselves on Twitter with the #IfTheyGunnedMeDown hashtag. Users played into how they are stereotyped in one image while the other conveyed them in a more favorable way.
Here is a small sampling of the tweets:
— Dev (@DevinDinero) August 11, 2014
— Gifty (@Gifty_Presenter) August 11, 2014
— TAMPA MADE!! (@YoloTeamPolo) August 11, 2014
— The Connect (@ChevelB) August 11, 2014
— #INDISSTREE (@BuddhaLeeRaye) August 10, 2014
— I Am Who I Am (@King_Ghidorah5) August 11, 2014
— Aayan (@Yung_PopEYE) August 11, 2014
— YoungGifted&Black✊ (@CJ_musick_lawya) August 10, 2014
Ahiza Garcia is a newswriter based in New York City. Before joining TPM, Ahiza interned and freelanced for Nightline, Fox Sports, and ESPN the Magazine. She holds a B.A. in psychology from Columbia University and an M.S. in digital journalism from Syracuse University. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.