On Sunday, during its 31st annual Video Music Awards, MTV aired two fifteen-second public-service announcements inspired by the shooting of unarmed teen Mike Brown and the unrest in his hometown of Ferguson that has followed in the weeks since.
The PSAs are a part of a campaign called Look Different, led by MTV in partnership with the NAACP, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League and the National Council of La Raza.
The first of the two videos features seven young people, faced with stereotypes about their individual races, shot in black and white. Questions such as: "Pretty for a dark girl?" and "Can't tell Asians apart?" and "Not like other black dudes?" echo in the minds of those on screen as glass shatters across their faces. The video ends with the words, "Look, listen, change" displayed onscreen.
The second video features a quote from author James Baldwin, known for his work exploring the tensions that arise in Western societies, particularly mid-twentieth-century America, around racial, sexual and class distinctions.
Over a black-and-white backdrop, a simple shot of a Ferguson town sign, reads, "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced." As the words appear on screen, the familiar chant of "Hands up; don't shoot" rises slowly in volume.
Mike Brown's body was laid to rest at a funeral service yesterday afternoon.