Thug: The New ‘N’ Word

Screenshot_2015-06-01-15-21-44-1The recent controversies of young African-American men being killed in cities such as Ferguson and Baltimore has caused a great deal of problems for African-Americans. If you watch any mainstream news network, you have seen the use of the word thug. The media uses the word thug to describe any person who is against the injustice towards minorities. After countless years of controversy any time the ‘n’ word is used, it seems as if the media has found a scapegoat for it by using the word thug. The media has painted all African-American protestors as thugs, but why thugs?

Thug as defined by dictionary.com is a cruel or vicious ruffian, robber, or murderer. Let me breakdown the definition as it relates to the media and African-Americans. A cruel or vicious ruffian is a tough lawless rough neck, who can also be seen as a brutal bully. When the media sees African-American protestors, they see a barbarian who they feel does not understand why they have anger. A robber is a person who steals items that are not theirs. How is a protestor a robber? What are they stealing that does not belong to them by holding a sign and protesting? I ask these questions because I cannot find answers, but maybe one day I will have the answers to what African-Americans are stealing when they protest. A murderer is a person who commits murder. The African-American protestors are protesting against the murderers who are responsible for the death of countless African-American men. The men and women who are doing the killing are not called murders, but the protestors are murderers. When the media calls an African-American a thug, they are calling them a cruel ruffian bully, who robs, and possess the traits of a murderer.

Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes, told CNN’s Erin Burnett that commentators might as well call protestors “n****rs”. There are many people who feel that thug and the ‘n’ word are not the same, and according to cnn.com even President Obama has used the word thug in a speech concerning al Qaeda. Shunafrica White a student at Elizabeth City State University said that the word thug does come off as the ‘n’ word at times, “I say this because the word thug has been used to describe many African-Americans that were murdered based on the association of this word and the “n” word.” Is the African-American community to blame for the uprise of the word thug? For many years stars such as Oprah have asked the African-American community to stop using the ‘n’ word because it opens the door for everyone to use it. That is not an excuse for media networks to label young African-American protestors as thugs. When workers protested fast-food chains for higher wages such as McDonald’s, they were never labeled as thugs.

There are mixed opinions on the word thug being used as a symptom for the ‘n’ word. News networks have slowly started to stray away from the word thug because of the controversy it started. That alone will not stop news reporters or all news networks from saying thug. There are going to be young boys and girls walking around calling their classmates thugs, because they heard it from the news. Media networks may not use thug as often anymore, but they can always find another substitute for the ‘n’ word.

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