Imagine going to Facebook and the first image to greet you is that of a child, no more than two, laying dead on a beach’s shore. Imagine seeing video of young children being thrown to the ground by police.
What those children have in common is that they’re Black and Brown. White journalists and soldiers are killed on tape and the video gets shared a few times. But usually their families ask for privacy and we stop sharing the videos. Instead we share photos of their time alive. A smiling face looks back at us. Do we afford the same consideration to Black children who have been killed by police? We humanize white victims, while continuing to dehumanize Brown and Black victims. A young white woman is remembered by her boyfriend and we grieve along with him. A black mother grieves for her son while images of his dead body are shown constantly. To add insult to injury, we say he committed a crime, we try to discredit him. As if that somehow justifies his death. As if that somehow justifies him laying dead on the street for five hours.
I’ve read some comments about how Emmett Till’s mother chose an open casket for her son. The operative word here is “chose”. She had every right to decide how her son’s image was displayed. The families of those refugee children haven’t made that choice. I’ve read comments saying that showing those shocking images will make people who would other wise not care, care. I call bullshit. Some of the reports from Turkey and Greece are so descriptive that pictures are not necessary. This really just comes off as horror porn. I have to wonder, what is wrong with an individual that the only way they will care about someone’s suffering is if they see it first hand? Do they really need to see pictures of dead babies washed ashore to grasp that the current refugee crisis is serious and deadly? These families are grieving. They’re escaping their war-torn country, risking life and limb to get to some safety only to end up losing their children.
Black and brown bodies received no respect while alive. I guess in death they don’t even get that. Aylan Kurdi’s aunt has asked for people to share a picture of little Aylan smiling and not of him dead on that shore. Can we respect that?