Icon Analysis

George Floyd (1973-2020)

For my icon analysis I will be using this photo of George Floyd who was a victim of fatal police brutality in 2020. This image as well as his likeness has been used as a figure head for the Black Lives Matter movement to represent blatant racial injustice in America.

Without context, when I look at this photo I immediately see a father. It reminds me of the same semi awkward warm hearted photos my fathers tries to take of himself and the universality of “dad selfies” makes me smile. However, within the context of his murder, this photo breaks my heart and I think the previous analyzation of the photo is part of the reason why it is so heartbreaking. This image of George Floyd works as an icon for the BLM movement because it’s a true depiction of his humanity. Too often when we hear about police brutality and killings we only ever see the mugshot of the victim so that the public will immediately write off the victim as a criminal and/or a thug. In American society today frameworks built in the 50s have had lasting impressions on the American people even if its subconsciously and these ideas have been used to manipulate public opinion successfully for a long time. When the news talks about a police shooting but the images of the victims are mugshots of people of color who society has been trained to see as innately dangerous or sketchy without the mugshot as part of the equation it tends to mitigate the impact their death has and sometimes even hails the shooter as a hero. George Floyd was such an obvious example of how black people in America are treated by the system so using a photo of him that perfectly humanizes him and can remind people of others in their own lives really helps exacerbate an already horrifying tragedy. It reminds me and society that its not just criminals and ‘bad’ people who face police repercussion but fathers, uncles, brothers… human beings being held under false pretenses suffer and even die at the hands of police. Within the context you feel the dread and exhaustion of an entire race of people living under a regime of injustice and inequality. This photo in particular’s power has spread to many different art mediums which went viral and really allowed there to be a face, fronting a concept that allowed the concept to go viral in an especially important and influential way.

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