#IfTheyGunnedMeDown Sad Commentary on Society

A new trending topic has taken over social media feeds and timelines everywhere.

It refers to an image of Michael Brown, the young man whose death at the hands of police has galvanized the nation and even Anonymous.

Here is the image.

Michael Brown

Some think he is flashing a peace sign. Others think it’s something more nefarious.

This is why social media is now imagining which avatar the media would use if they were gunned down.

A few are holding drinks. Some are flipping the bird. Others are scowling. In any case, the assumption is that when a young Black person dies, the amorphous monster known as Mainstream Media will pore through their photographic history and zero in on the one picture that makes them look the most menacing, or deserving of death.

I am on the fence about this issue. JET itself had the image above as a slideshow image. It was only after I shared the post on my personal Facebook page and a friend expressed surprise about it that I was aware there was an issue.

Then, after checking out this Mashable piece, I had a better understanding of what the picture represented to some.

However, it is one of the few images of this young man that is out there floating in cyberspace that fit our size specifications for the main carousel on our site.  In short, it’s a technicality.  Still, I asked my team to take it down because I want us to be part of the solution, not the problem.

I understand why some would want a graduation picture, a smiling family reunion photo, or an image of them volunteering at a community garden used in the event of their untimely death. But at the same time, we should consider why an image that looks very much like a peace sign to me looks so suspicious to outsiders.

Why must we prove we were worthy in life?  Why do we have to constantly give off the “good guy” or “good girl” image to obtain sympathy from others?

I pray to God none of the families of the people who are participating in #iftheygunnedmedown ever get the opportunity to find out whether or not these hypotheses are correct.  I wish we could spend energy coming to a solution that stops Black life from seeming so lacking in value.

That is what I’d like to focus on, ending this type of senseless tragedy.  Then, maybe we won’t even have to spend our time picking out the image that will appear on the 6 o’clock news.