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Hashtag Criticizes Portrayal of Michael Brown

Wed, 13 Aug 2014 15:07:27 +0000

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A Twitter hashtag poignantly critiques the way media portrays black victims of crime through the images it chooses to use and it has generated thousands of tweets this week.

The hashtag, #IfIWereGunnedDown, asks the question, "If I were gunned down, which images would the media use to portray me?"

It began after the shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown, who was shot multiple times by a police officer Saturday afternoon in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.

Some media accounts showed a picture of Brown using a hand sign, like a sideways peace sign, that some called a "gang sign," while other images portrayed him as a successful high school graduate in cap and gown.

Twitter users have been posting two images of themselves to illustrate their points. In one image, they are doing something wonderful: graduating from school, playing with a small child, dressing up in a sharp suit for an event or a military uniform. In the other, they are seen in a less polished moment: holding up their hands in a way that the media often calls "gang signs," or drinking alcohol, or dancing in a suggestive way.

The comparison shows how one person can be portrayed as either an accomplished, successful young adult or a thuggish, out-of-control one, and criticizes the media for often choosing the unflattering photo in relation to black victims.


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