Have you been following the #iftheygunnedmedown campaign? As the conversation has evolved this week about how Americans see its black men, it is black men (and women) who have taken to Twitter to ask the question: Which picture of me would the media and authorities use to represent me if I was gunned down by the police today? Here are a few of them:
What is remarkable to me about these images and the ready way people have jumped in to participate is that these young men and women already understand how their images are being used against them. They understand that the (mostly) adolescent preening and posing and general foolishness to look more adult is more likely to be used to create an entire negative narrative about who they are (leveraged from the usual stereotypes of young black people),rather than be dismissed as youthful (mostly) indiscretions as they would for their white counterparts. They get that if they are harmed by white authorities, that it is their worst images that will be trotted out to justify that harm.
I don’t have any solutions to this, other than to encourage people to spend some time looking at these images and challenge what you think you know about the pictures you see.