Michael Brown Tribute Drawing Sparks Outrage
In response to the tragic shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, many people have done their part in expressing support for the family of the unarmed 18 year old.
Mary Engelbreit, a native of nearby St. Louis, is one of those supporters. An artist, best-known for her children’s illustrations, created a piece inspired by the high-profile shooting, one she called, “In the USA.”
Engelbreit, moved by what she deemed injustice in Brown’s death, created an image depicting an African-American mother with a tear rolling down her face, holding a young boy whose hands and held in the air. The drawing has corresponding text, which reads, “No one should have to teach their children this in the USA.”
A riff off of a popular phrase, which emerged in the days following Brown’s death, “Hands up, dont shoot,” Engebreit, a White woman, saw her illustration as a move in the right direction toward curbing the injustices dwelling within our society. She posted the image on her Facebook page with the following message: “When situations turn horrible and I find it hard to move on, I usually draw my way through it. These [drawings] hardly ever see the light of day, since they’re really just a form of therapy for me. But these events unfolding now in my hometown and across the country, shining a light on the ugly racism that still runs rampant in our country, made me think that maybe this drawing could help in some small way. While it’s not a cheerful little picture you’d want to hang over the sofa, you might know of a school or an office or a police station that could use it.”
She then led her Facebook friends to a link where she is selling the print for $49.99 with all the proceeds going to the Michael Brown Jr. Memorial Fund.
One would think the artist’s good deed story would end there, but it, in fact, had only just begun.
According to the Washington Post, following Engebreit’s post, she was faced with harsh criticism regarding her illustration. Some defended police authorities, while others called her derogatory names. After a short time, her post garnered so much attention and criticism that Facebook removed it, calling it offensive.
Unmoved, the artist reposted her drawing with a corresponding link to buy. Not long afterward, a Facebook representative reached out to the artist, who told a St. Louis radio station the backlash was unlike anything she expected, “I knew when I posted that that I would catch some flak,” she said. “But, no, I wasn’t expecting this.”
In an email to the Huffington Post, the mother explained her empathy with Michael Brown’s mother, which led her to create the image, “I lost my son 14 years ago and I know the devastation and heartbreak [Michael Brown’s mother] was feeling,” she explained. She continud, “I didn’t want to address this particular shooting, but wanted, instead, to address the larger problem of racial profiling and the racism that is so prevalent in our country, and the anguish it is causing so many families.”
Her drawing has already raised more than $25,000 for the Michael Brown Jr. Memorial Fund. Visit this link to purchase the print: http://j.mp/1n8VVTt
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