Thug Is The New “N-Word”
Jeremiah Short, Feature Columinst
Orange is the new Black. 30 is the new 20. And thug is the new “N-Word.”
“Thug” is becoming the en vogue word to describe any black athlete who behaves inappropriately. Brittney Griner slugs a girl after countless hard fouls. She’s a thug. Colin Kaepernick sports tattoos and wears his hat backward in an interview. He’s a thug. Richard Sherman (A Stanford graduate) says he’s the best. He’s a thug, too.
The reaction to Marcus Smart shoving Jeff Orr, a Texas Tech super fan, reminded me once again that the use of the word “thug” is getting out of control.
Fans jumped on social media and immediately began to call Smart a thug. No one mentioned that the fan had a reputation for inappropriate behavior. It doesn’t excuse Smart’s behavior. But it wasn’t what the conversation was about. The conversation was about a “thug” putting his hands on a middle-aged, white man, and he must be punished for it.
Cooler heads did prevail. Smart apologized and received a three-game suspension. Orr apologized and voluntarily decided to not attend any more Red Raider games this season.
End of story. Or is it?
Incidents like Smart’s reinforce the idea that black athletes have to walk a fine line. They have to be better than the rest. Or better yet, “safe.”
They have to be a Russell Wilson, who has been deemed the safe negro. Wilson speaks properly, wears his hat to the front and is a team-first player. That’s not to say he’s some “Uncle Tom” or a “cornball” brother. It’s to say that’s what a black athlete is expected to be if they’re to be accepted.
That brings me back to the word thug and why the use of it is becoming so prevalent.
Sherman, the last “thug” of moment before Smart’s unfortunate incident, hit the nail on the head as why to the word thug is starting to be used so much to describe black athletes.
“The reason it bothers me is because it seems like it’s an accepted way of calling somebody the N-word now,” Sherman said. “It’s like everybody else said the N-word and then they say ‘thug’ and that’s fine.”
I don’t think I could have said it any better myself. Thug is becoming to the new way to call a black person a “nigger” and get away with it.
The “N-Word” has become taboo for anyone who isn’t black to use publicly without considerable backlash.
Paula Deen found that out the hard way. She saw her whole empire crumble when it was discovered that she regularly used the word to demean her black employees. (Although she might regain it soon)
Something else had to be substituted for racist who have displeasure with a black person’s actions.
It’s like there was some secret meeting convened about a new way to disparage black people.
Racist #1: Hey guys and gals, the N-Word’s out. Paula Deen done messed it up for us. We got to come up with something else to demean black people.
Racist #2: How about monkey?
Racist #1: Too obvious. C’mon people. I know you’re not that smart. Otherwise, why would you be this racist? We need something a little more acceptable.
Racist #3: How about thug?
Racist #1: That’s perfect. Everyone can be called a thug. But we know 99 percent of the time we’ll call black people a thug and laugh among ourselves at our new “code” word for nigger. Meeting adjourned. Go spread the word.
I’m sure it didn’t quite go down this way. But it sure feels that way with how quick a black person gets called a thug for non-thug behavior.
It troubles me even more considering the word thug derives from a band of “Thuggees” or “thugs“in the 1800’s who worshipped a goddess–Kali. They were one of the history’s most notorious cults who robbed and murdered.
And yes, for those thinking it, I did just go there with the word thug. Black athletes and entertainers are getting called such a demonic word because of minor transgressions. It’s just not right.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a column lamenting the demonization of black culture. The use of the word thug is another way that’s being done.
How can use of the word thug be curtailed? First, I think black people need to stop accepting it as an ok word. I don’t care if an athlete or entertainer has to buck up and complain every time they’re called a thug. Do it.
Second, when they do complain, they must articulate themselves the way Sherman did. Nothing shuts up detractors more than a well-thought out, well-written and well-spoken argument.
Smart wisely took that route and showed how great a young man that he was. “I take full responsibility,” Smart said at a press conference Sunday evening in Stillwater. “This is not me. I really do apologize for it. Like I said, I take full responsibility and the consequences that come with it.”
Thugs aren’t leaders. Thugs don’t come back for a sophomore season when they’re projected top-5 picks. And thugs don’t apologize for their actions like Smart did.
I’m all for new trends and changes. But thug being the new “N-Word” is one that needs to end.