While the New York Times has been doing excellent work detailing Donald Trump’s numerous political gaffes and exposing his treasonous ways, their handling of Michael Brown’s death wasn’t as stellar. Brooklyn artist Alexandra Bell is putting them on notice.
As reported by DNAInfo New York, for several months the Crown Heights artist has been plastering posters all over Brooklyn criticizing the racial handling of the story.
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I've been mulling over this piece for the last week. This is one of several large-scale iterations that will soon make its way beyond IG into the public realm. . In doing this work, I am creating a framework for myself that is often disallowed in traditional journalism–I'm taking sides. I'm using radical edits, #marginalia, and #editorial manipulation within a social justice art framework to highlight oppressive patterns I see in news reportage. . In November 2014, a grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown. It's been two years, but it still matters. #mikebrown #policeviolence #socialjustice #blacklivesmatter
Bell’s beef lays in the headlines of both Brown’s story and the article it ran next to which focused on the Missouri police officer who killed him, Darren Wilson.
Published on August 24, 2014, both stories ran under a headline that read “Two Lives at a Crossroads in Ferguson.”
While Officer Wilson’s story ran with a title that read “A Low-Profile Officer with Unsettled Early Days,” the victim, Michael Brown, had a headline that read “A Teenager Grapling with Problems and Promise.”
As if the headlines weren’t polarizing enough, Wilson’s story described a man who wouldn’t hurt a fly while Brown’s depicted a troubled kid that was referred to as “no angel.”
The implications weren’t lost on Bell who said “I can just say ‘the No Angel story’ and people are like ‘oh man, I remember that, yea.’”
Even though the Public Editor for the Times said the phrase was a “regrettable mistake,” Bell knew that this was just the latest example of how cheap Black lives are viewed not only in the media, but in society in general.
“The Mike Brown article always stuck out to me as an extreme example of false equivalency” while “The Darren Wilson stuck out as more considerate and more forgiving.”
The manner in which this was handled has since inspired Bell to take to the streets of Kings County and put up posters of the polar opposite depictions she calls “counternarratives” and remind everyone of the injustice that minorities are subjected to on a constant basis.