#IfTheyGunnedMeDown Hashtag Sparks Fiery Debate About How Media Portrays Young Black Shooting Victims

Mike Brown's death has raised numerous questions about the power of images.

The death of Mike Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old who was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on Saturday, has created a renewed sense of sadness, frustration and confusion not only within that small St. Louis community but throughout the country. This became increasingly clear on Wednesday (August 13) when the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown snowballed on social media.

The shooting has raised questions about police brutality and the rights — or, perhaps, lack thereof — of young black men and women in public spaces as well as the media’s portrayal of them in the aftermath of Brown’s killing and that of other young people of color like Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Oscar Grant, Renisha McBride, Sean Bell and more.

Related: Mike Brown Shooting: A Timeline Of The Fallout In Ferguson

In response, young people have been posting split-screen photos of themselves, questioning which image the media would use to report on their death if they were to meet an end similar to Brown. Using the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, Twitter and Instagram users shared side-by-side images: one depicting them engaged in wholesome activities like sports or education, the other showing more casual poses or featuring what’s stereotypically described as “hip-hop” or “urban” attire.

Particularly from a visual standpoint, the ramifications and implications of those images has come into question.

Here’s an image of Mike Brown, used by NBC, as well as other outlets, that helped spark the digital push-back

Many wondered why an image like this wouldn’t have been used:

And in response, young people sought to bring the media to task with their own photos