“I don’t know how you can make a comparison between Waco and Baltimore,” “Are these guys thugs? Yeah, they’re thugs… I use the word thug and I mean ‘bad guy’ when I use the word.” “I think the word was owned by rappers,”
Attributing the origin of the current usage of “thug” to rappers is now a preferred neoconservative racial code word for young Black men. Thug has a far longer, more varied history, as Megan Garber of the Atlantic reminds us very eloquently in her coverage of recent usage of the term:
“The mayor talked about “the evil we see tonight.” She promised that “we will do whatever it takes” to stop the destruction and restore “the will of good.” Because “too many people,” she said, “have invested in building up this city to allow thugs to tear it down.”
“Thugs.” “Thug.” The derision here—dismissive, indignant, willfully unsympathetic—is implied in the sound of the word itself. Spoken aloud, “thug” requires its utterer first to sneer (the lisp of the “th”) and then to gape (the deep-throated “uhhhh”) and then to choke the air (that final, glottal “g”). Even if you hadn’t heard the word before, even if you had no idea what it meant, you would probably guess that it is an epithet. “Thug” may have undergone the classic cycle of de- and re- and re-re-appropriation—the lyric-annotation site Genius currently lists 12,590 uses of “thug” in its database, among them 19 different artists (Young Thug, Slim Thug, Millennium Thug) and 10 different albums—but the word remains fraught. In a series of interviews before last year’s Super Bowl, the Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman—who had been described by the media as a “thug,” and who is African American—referred to “thug” as an effective synonym for the n-word.”
Indeed, during the course of this televised debate, Mr. Hauck didn’t resist passing on the opportunity to make mention of the Baltimore Mayor’s usage of the epithet as validation for his own use, which brings me to the appropriation part of this discussion…
In the years since the civil rights movement, there has never been a time in which it is permissible and proper to appropriate and then repeat a slur just because someone of the other complexion used it. Mayor Rawlings’ usage of thug was not well-received and the fact that she is African American didn’t make it any less offensive.
“They started coming out with songs and calling themselves thugs, and I think that’s how this whole thing started, with the black community and the young men calling themselves thugs. Alright? And I think that’s how that all started.”
Conservatives have an entire alternate history of Hip-Hop (formerly called Rap.) Just last week, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly in his analysis of the decline in religiosity, placed the blame squarely on the Rap industry:
“There is no question that people of faith are being marginalized by a secular media and pernicious entertainment. The rap industry, for example, often glorifies depraved behavior, and that sinks into the minds of some young people, the group that is most likely to reject religion,”
The theme, used by Hauck and O’Reilly in this instance, is the use of a popular medium of artistic expression, Rap, as the vehicle by which to return a sweeping indictment of all Blacks through culture; mind you, this is only one of many African American cultural mediums that is commonly sanitized for whiteness, and then appropriated. It’s a wickedly sneaky way to take a swipe while appearing to make a valid critique of culture.
“Everybody has got to stop and move on from here,” “Forget the past. Move on.” “Whatever happened a thousand years ago, stop! Let’s move from here,” “Come on, you’re a smart man (turns toward Charles Blow.)”
Houck’s behavior, whether conscious or subconscious, is America’s crowning achievement from several hundreds of years of education-shunning and appropriating by a greedy, racist, culture-poor, white American master class. Whether or not Houck’s lack of facility for common historical facts is genuine, whoever thinks this nation’s had a thousand years of history, his disdain for them obviously was. If his lack of appreciation for the importance of history in analysis is real, he showed a lack of sophistication in his public admonishment to forget the last thousand years (sic). Where does his disdain source from? Whose interest does it serve to ensure that majority of Americans shun scholarly pursuits? Not learn our history as it really is? The documentary, American Denial [Link updated. Ed.], clues us into the roots of American bias and the foundation our nation is built on:
“The American creed has been used as a weapon against African Americans and poor people in this country. If you in fact accept the reality of the American creed as really describing the situation on the ground in American society, then you have a group that is not living up to expectations. Then it must be because this group down here is inferior.”
Professor James Sidanius, Harvard University
“And I think this isn’t just a phenomenon that goes on among white folks. It goes on in the Black community as well, where Black folks say “well, if you just pulled up your pants, if you just stayed in school, if you just act right…” and it allows us to become blind to the structures that are in place, that trap people at the bottom.”
Michelle Alexander – The New Jim Crow
The narrative before American Plymouth, in many ways, was that Blacks are not fit, that there is something defective biologically. But what we’ve moved into today, is a culture narrative. And so, it’s not that Blacks are unfit as a population or species, but that the culture is not fit. Those people don’t really belong. Those people aren’t the good Americans. They’re not like us.”
Professor John A Powell – Berkeley University Law School
“The objective of an educational campaign is to minimize prejudice—or, at least, to bring the conflict between prejudice and ideals out into the open and to force the white citizen to take his choice. (p. 385-6 – An American Dilemma, 1944)”
Watch the first debate on CNN:
Transcript and video clip curated from RawStory.
Now, the second debate, on CNN Tonight:
Which brings me to the following observation… We’ve been having this same debate about racial profiling and how we think and talk about Blacks as opposed to whites in given situations, forever! Here are two short clips from a forum on police and race with William F. Buckley, Chuck D., Betty Shabazz, and Darryl Gates. Just close your eyes and listen. You’ll hardly notice that this forum took place in 1993.
Just Chuck D. and Buckley
Hauck was an NYPD detective. For those who don’t remember or know what “Broken Windows Policing” is about, here is a refresher course. Hat tip to the Marshall Project for:
Below, you will find recent examples of various types of brutality from around the country. The lack of fundamental social ethics in the way police departments see their role in society and operate under is one that is generalized across the nation’s police departments. One should note that the NYPD’s current Commissioner, William Bratton, can be credited for the spread of a particular kind of policing. Read on…
Police Allegedly Locked Up A Black Eighth Grader For Six Days Because He Threw Skittles
An eighth grader was allegedly arrested and detained for six days for throwing Skittles on a school bus. During his arrest, the officer involved said he’d “beat the fuck out of [the student]” if they were the same age, according to a letter from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to the Department of Justice (DOJ). The letter also claims that this incident was just one of many egregious arrests of black students in a Louisiana school district.
– Ricky Jackson was convicted at 18 for a murder he did not commit
– Lawyers say he likely endured country’s longest wrongful prison term
Ricky Jackson was convicted at age 18 along with two others because of the testimony of a 12-year-old boy. Jackson, 58, was exonerated in November after that witness, a man now in his early 50s, recanted his testimony.
The witness, Eddie Vernon, said in 2013 that police detectives threatened to put his parents in jail and coerced him into implicating Jackson and brothers Wiley and Ronnie Bridgeman in the slaying of salesman Harold Franks outside a corner store.
Jackson and the Bridgemans received death sentences that were later commuted to life in prison. Jackson’s attorneys say their client is believed to have served the longest prison term in the US for someone wrongfully convicted.
The lawsuit alleges that eight officers, including detectives and their supervisors, were involved in framing the three. Some of the officers are now dead.
A statement from the Chicago law firm that filed the lawsuit said Jackson’s mother, father, stepfather and other relatives died while he was incarcerated and that he was assaulted and injured physically while behind bars.
“This lawsuit seeks compensation for that grievous injustice,” attorney Jon Loevy said in the statement. “We now know substantially more about the fallibility of eyewitness identifications. Too many people have been sent to prison wrongfully based on bogus identifications.”
Click here to finish reading this article at The Guardian