In the wake of the shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown by a police officer Saturday afternoon in Ferguson, Mo., a new Twitter hashtag has emerged that’s critiquing the way black crime victims are portrayed in the media.
Using the hashtag, #IfIWereGunnedDown, Twitter users are posting photos of themselves to answer the following question: “If I were gunned down, which images would the media use to portray me?”
Twitter user @CJ_Musick_Lawya reportedly started the hashtag after some media reports used aphoto of Brown holding up a hand signal that was interpreted as a “gang sign,” while other reports displayed his high school graduation photo. Twitter users have been using split images to illustrate the same message—that a person can be portrayed as innocent and accomplished or thuggish and delinquent based on a single photo chosen of the victim.
One of the images shows them fulfilling a milestone or serving society: they are surrounded by family, reading to children, dressed in a suit or military uniform or suit, or receiving a degree. The other image shows them in a suggestive pose, a fierce gaze, holding up a hand sign, or drinking alcohol.