The vicious slaying of Mike Brown by Ferguson, Mo., police has once again shown that 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. It’s safe to say that Brown has become a victim of what I like to refer to as the “Trayvon Martin effect” in the media.
Trayvon, who was killed by George Zimmerman, was depicted as a gold-grill-wearing, weed-smoking teenager in the photos used by the media. There were no photos of Trayvon smiling with his family members or being just your average happy teen, which his family members said he was. Similarly, the photos of Brown that have been picked up by the media included him throwing up a peace sign, which conservative media has translated into a “gang sign.”
You’d be hard-pressed to find mainstream media showing Brown at his high school graduation or with members of his family. Ironically, all of those photos exist courtesy of Brown’s Facebook page. Unfortunately, because of Ferguson police, we’ll never be able to see a photo of Brown attending his first day of college today.
As tensions remain high, not only in the town of Ferguson but also on social media, Twitter user @CJ_Musick_Lawya created #IfTheyGunnedMeDown to make a statement on how the media draws a biased narrative when it comes to telling the stories of black men and women. The following images not only tell a truthful story but also prove that we, as black people, know what our narrative is, but we are also not blind to the fact that the media will, of course, be biased in showing the truth:
#IfTheyGunnedMeDown is not only a sad commentary on what it means to be black in America but also shows that in order to have our own narrative correctly reported, we have to do the reporting ourselves.
Following the slaying of Brown, various media outlets falsely reported that protesters were chanting, “Kill the police,” but if you followed the social media accounts of those at the protest, they verified that the protesters were shouting not “Kill the police” but “No justice, no peace.”
Several residents in the St. Louis area have taken to their social media accounts to provide an accurate narrative of what’s going on in Ferguson. People like St. Louis rapper Vandalyzm and Alderman Antonio French have diligently updated their Twitter and Vine accounts to provide videos of the protests and the unfortunate looting that has occurred.
As the Ferguson police continue their investigation into the police killing of Brown, residents of the city have the right and just cause to shout and scream for answers. Brown’s killing proves once again that those whose jobs are to “protect and serve” are sometimes the ones we need to protect ourselves from, especially if we’re black.
Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.