The incredible offensiveness of “#thug” | #BaltimoreUprising #BlackLivesMatter

As the aggrieved part of Baltimore rises, so do the moralizing voices of local authority in their characterizations of “thug” about those they are supposed to serve. 

As the mainstream media feeds on the frenzy, amplifying the negative, repeating it over and over again, its personalities, content to follow the lead of one misguided leader, repeat the terrible characterizations of those they should know are the aggrieved party. After all, those who rioted have it worse than the poorest of the poor in Nigeria or India.

As the local authorities and the media present the aggrieved party as “thug,” so rise the opportunists who pick right up and use the term for their own self-serving purposes.

Whether it’s Erin Burnett, Rand Paul, or Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, “thug” is an ugly word that should not pass anyone’s lips, in the context it is currently being used. Why? Because in addition to specific regional uses, used a certain way in a particular context, thug has become the white safe substitute word to the N-word.

Which brings me to the mayor’s use of the term on the night of April 27th, as she was announcing the curfew… It was highly inappropriate for the mayor to call her citizens thugs. Since she’s a Baltimore native, of all people, who better to understand the reasons for the upheaval? Who better to know that the rioting and looting had very little to do with Freddie Gray, and was mostly about the long-standing economic and social conditions in that part of town. Who better to know that, whatever policing problem led to Gray’s death, is the same problem that haunts the lives of those who live in the same neighborhood? Who better to understand how hopeless life must be for these young men, whether they’re still in high school or aimlessly roaming the streets?

Who better to know how deeply disappointing Baltimore’s leadership has been when it comes to lifting certain elements out of the horrific conditions they’ve endured for decades?

Using “thug” is racist and neoliberal. It is dehumanizing, demoralizing, and polarizing. These citizens of Baltimore are humans, not thugs.

Stop it!

  • Charles Kunold

    You say the word thug is racist. How many riots have you experienced? Did you personally witness the mistreatment of blacks in Baltimore? If so, document each incident
    What do you call people who targeted Asian stores for destruction? Isn’t it true that Crips and Bloods protected black owned businesses and directed rioters to the Asian businesses? Should the rioters who looted and burned the CVS be charged? Who should pay to ne build it, if they choose to do so? If you say the store then why?
    Do you agree with the mayor’s stand down order? Did you know she lives in a private, gated community?
    Given the fact you demanded the resignation of the white mayor and pice chief in Ferguson what do you feel should happen to the black mayor and police chief of Baltimore?
    Baltimore has had a Democtratic mayor for over 40 years. Do Democrats bear any responsibility for the economic situation? What have they done to attract new businesses or to provide low interest or zero interest start ups for prospective minority owners?
    The 10 cities with the highest poverty rates l have Democratic mayors
    1). Detroit. since 1961
    2) Buffalo. Since 1954
    3) Cinncinati. Since 1984
    4). Cleveland Since. 1989
    5) Miami Has never had a Republican mayor
    6) St Louis Since 1949
    7) El Paso. Never had a Republican mayor
    8) Milwaukee Since 1908
    9) Philadelphia. Since 1952
    10) Newark Since 19071

    You like to blame Republicans for most everything but can you explain why Harry Reid blocked the following bipartisan bills
    1) Hire More Heroes Act (HR 3474) passed the House on 2/11/2014 with support from 189 Democrats. No action
    2)The Success and Opportunity Through Quality Chatter Schopls Act (HR 10) passed the House on 5/0/2014 with 158 Democrats
    3) The Innpvatio Act (HR 3309) passed on 12/5/2013 with support from 138 Democrats
    4) The Cybersecuritty Information Sharing and Protection Act(HR 624) passed 4/18/2013. No Senate action
    5) The American Research and Competetiveness Act ( HR 4438) Passed 6/9/2014 with 62 Democrats. No Senate action
    6) The American Small Business Tax Relief Act. (HR 445t) Passed 6/12/2014. With 53 Democrats
    7) The small business Capit Access and Job Oreservation Act ( HR 1105). Passed 12/3/2013

    These are just a few of the jobs bills blocked by Harry Reid. There are 30. Wasn’t Reid obstructing these bills hurting people like in Baltimore?
    Can you tell me why Senate Democrats blocked Obama’s jobs bill? Isn’t it true it’s because it didn’t contain a 5% increase on the top 1%? And

    • I was born and raised in Washington, DC and have lived in many parts of the world, during times of war and upheaval. I don’t have to answer your questions in the manner you want me to. Pick up any history book and you can see for yourself.

      I leave you with this excellent article from The Atlantic on the history of the word “thug.”

      http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/04/thug/391682/