USA Today reports:

10 a.m. Saturday – Michael Brown, 18, was unarmed, St. Louis County Police Chief Joe Belmar says in a news conference. Belmar says Brown physically assaulted the officer, and during a struggle between the two, Brown reached for the officer’s gun. One shot was fired in the car followed by other gunshots outside of the car.

In light of this tragedy, generations of people of all races have come together to stand up for the rights of black people. In the 21st century: Protests, rallies, and social media have connected thousands of passionate people, but there are some familiar trends in our protests and social media tactics should not be repeated this time around.

Be a consistent advocate.

It’s easy to “repost”, “retweet”, or “reblog”, but do you really know what you are posting? Does it just look acceptable because that’s what everyone else is doing? Did you do your research? Social media can be compared to a game of telephone, stories can become unclear and the real message is lost; we must commit to our message and be strategic in the way we transfer information amongst each other and to the world, so that our true agenda is being heard and our message stays consistent. Make sure that when the message finally gets to you, you are aware of the topic without and biases and can stand firm on your beliefs. Know what you stand for and always do your own research before following the crowd.

Be consistent in your message and beliefs.

Our thoughts, fights, and hashtags never seem to last very long. What will it be next? A revealing outfit worn by a celebrity or the latest reality shows drama? Once the constant media coverage of one topic is through, we jump to the next big trend in Hollywood. Yes, it is okay to discuss other topics happening in our society, but don’t stray too far away the important issues that plague our communities. Let’s stay consistent in our message for change in America, a change that offers all people regardless of skin color or class the equality and justice they were granted as American citizens under the constitution. Let’s look beyond what is “trending” or “popular” and show the world that we take our fight seriously.

 Be consistent in your image.

#IfIWereGunnedDown has become one of the popular trending hash tags on social media. This hash tag was created to show how the media portrays African Americans when violence and death are reported. Although there is importance in this new photo trend, there is a need for black people to change the way we present ourselves on social media entirely.

The sad truth is that we do not have the luxury of being educated, well off, and frivolous on social media without it being used against us one day.

In the words of Carson Byrd, “ I applaud those wanting to take a stand to media role in skewing the perception of African Americans BUT please understand the complexity and root of the issue. If we as people consciously know that the media is not on our side, why give them fuel to use. If we are fully aware that the media will use the negative images then we must only portray ourselves in a positive manner. We cannot expect the media to depict us in an educated manner if we continually give them material that presents us in an uneducated light.”

In America the media is one of the largest outlets of socialization, knowing this we as black people must portray positive images of ourselves on media outlets to combat and hopefully one day overpower the negative images circulating America’s everyday news, television and social media outlets. If we know that there is even the slightest possibility of a photograph being used as blackmail or as a negative stereotype in the eyes of today’s society, we should not post it. Being self-aware black people should be conscious of the images they put out into cyber space for dominant culture to misconstrue and use to misrepresent our people and us. We should stay consistent in putting out positive images into the world and giving the media less ammunition to paint biased pictures of us in the media.