Twitter users are asking the media what images they would use to represent them, using #IfTheyGunnedMeDown in an attempt to spread awareness about racial stereotypes.
The viral hashtag was created in response to the media's use of suggestive images of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager who was fatally shot by police Saturday.
Friends called Brown a "gentle giant" but the media decided to show an image of the 18-year-old throwing a peace sign instead of using other, more respectable pictures of him, such as him posing on graduation day.
Similar to the negative comments surrounding the image the media used to portray Trayvon Martin, Brown's photo caused some Twitter users to call Brown a "thug" who was throwing "gang signs."
Some media outlets racially stereotyped Martin, who was fatally shot Feb. 2012 by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman. An image of Martin wearing a hoodie, a gold grill and smoking marijuana was the primary image used to discuss the case.
The similarities between the negative media portrayal of Martin and Brown caused Twitter users to create the hashtag, #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, in an attempt to break the stereotype and spread awareness about black representation in media.
Many Twitter users are uploading two side-by-side pictures—one of them at graduation or doing other positive things, the other a typical teenage photo—tagging the images with #IfTheyGunnedMeDown.
In one example, a Twitter user uploaded a picture of himself wearing Army fatigues and reading to small children. This image is in juxtaposition to a photo of him in baggy clothes and his hand appears to show what could be interpreted as a gang sign. Another photo shows a man holding his baby daughter, with the mirroring photo of him holding bottles of alcohol. "What picture you think the media will use," he asks.
Here are some compelling tweets:
— Quinton Jones (@QDOTjones) August 11, 2014
This is a rhetorical question. And that makes me sad. #iftheygunnedmedown which picture would they use? pic.twitter.com/86UCAa4QHE — Steve Marmel (@Marmel) August 10, 2014