Illustrator Mary Engelbreit created this poster in response to the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, who was shot and killed by White police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014. The event triggered local and national protests, bringing public attention to issues of systemic racial profiling and assumed criminalization by law enforcement, poverty and lack of opportunities for social mobility, and increased militarization of U.S. police forces. The artwork states, “No one should have to teach their children this in the USA,” and shows a Black woman crying as she holds a young child who has hands raised, with “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot” displayed on the newspaper in front of them. All proceeds from the sale of this print were donated to the Michael Brown Jr. Memorial Fund.
What statement is the illustrator, Mary Engelbriet, making with the words included in this piece? What words are visible on the newspaper, and what do they mean?
Why does Engelbreit focus on a mother and child in her illustration? How does this choice help convey Engelbreit’s message?
This piece of artwork was created and posted online in response to an event that happened in the United States. How might it be received in a context other than the United States? Would people from other places understand the context just by looking at the image? How? What contextual information would they need to know in order to understand the intended message?