The fatal police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., has prompted an online movement examining how the media chooses to represent black victims.
Criminal defence lawyer C.J. Lawrence of Jackson, Mo., started the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown Sunday when he tweeted two images — one that shows him holding a bottle of booze, and another that shows him smiling and wearing a graduation gown and cap.
Lawrence asked: "Which photo does the media use if the police shot me down?"
One of the earliest images of Brown in the news shows the 18-year-old scowling and flashing what appears to be a peace sign, but which some have dubbed a gang sign.
Other pictures — ones of Brown smiling with children or graduating from high school — were readily available on the teen's Facebook page.
"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," Yesha Callahan wrote on The Root.
"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."