Ferguson, Media Bias and #IfTheyGunnedMeDown

iftheygunnedmedownI’ve said it for years. It’s been studied, written extensively and proven. Now, it’s become a trending topic with the help of a hashtag. There is indeed a clear racial bias in the media, and it shows in how crime is reported. And another chapter in the saga of the police’s war against the black community helped expose it.

Recently, a high school graduate named Michael Brown, who was about to start his college career, was gunned down in a neighborhood in Ferguson, Missouri, by police. Brown was a young black male.

Unarmed. As expected, the police said that he and his friend, another black male, were the aggressors who ultimately sealed Brown’s fate. However, witnesses are coming forward to give their accounts on what happened that tragic day, all of them being strikingly similar and drastically different from what the police report. But one thing was clear, all witness said that the cop was the total cause of this young man’s violent death, a young man who’s only crime was being spotted by a jackass with a badge. This happened on heels of the murder of Eric Garner and beating of Marlene Pinnock and on the eve of the then-future murders of Ezell Ford and John Crawford, all of which the perpetrators are cops.

To make a long story short, the community demanded answers. The police chief and his comrades basically told them to go fuck themselves, in so many words. The people started protesting. Some were even looting and rioting. The people were tired of the continuous, years-long racial profiling by police.So, they decided that enough was enough. And before you know it, the police declared war on the black people of Ferguson and against the news media for apparently sticking their noses where they don’t belong.

Speaking of the news media, while reports about Michael Brown’s death started circulating, the social media noticed something troubling. Brown, as stated earlier, was a high school graduate who was two days away from starting college. The news always have pictures to illustrate their articles and reports. Brown obviously had several pictures, one of which was his cap and gown photo. One would think that would be the best picture to use when reporting on the death of a young man seeking higher education. Instead, the mainstream news media decided to use the photo of Brown in street wear throwing a peace sign which, to those unaware, was thought to have been a gang sign.

It’s the same trickery they used after Trayvon Martin was murdered. The news media, especially those serving the whims of the right, will use images that conjure negative stereotypes in order to prevent sympathy for the victim from the viewing public. If the victim “looked” like a gang banger i.e. wears oversized clothing with sagging pants and is black, then to the public’s mind, he deserved to die, because judging by looks alone, he was up to no good.

Social media caught this, and responded with the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown. Black folks on Twitter and Facebook came up with a brilliant movement. They would use photos of themselves or other black people. At least one picture would have them wearing street clothes (including hoodies), throwing hand signs, whatever fits the mainstream’s narrative of the “typical black person”. However, they would also have pictures that you rarely see in the media: graduation pictures, family pictures (including happy black fathers with their children), pictures of them smiling, anything that the media won’t dare produce nearly as much. Then, a rhetorical question is asked. Which picture would the news media use?

This online movement reveals the racial bias in the media, which is  owned and almost operated by white people. Media images of black people have been minimal, and the images that do appear are mostly unflattering, to say the least. And the news is no exception. Whenever something bad happens and black people are involved, it’s immediately reported and sometimes overreported. But anything positive involving black people doesn’t get a whole lot of approval behind the scenes, unless it involves a white person helping them in some way. Figures.

It shows that, more than ever, black people must create their own independent media with no influence from white owned mega corporations. Only then would there ever be any hope in our truths being told without any filters or censors desperate for sensationalism and fear mongering for ratings value.