I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against. — Malcolm X
A friend of mine recently asked me what I thought of the petition to eradicate the word “thug?” I knew that she was referring to the Baltimore Mayor and President Obama referring to the protestors as thugs, but I decided to play devil’s advocate and ask: “Why is that now a bad term when our youth have embraced thuglife since Tupac first introduced that word?”
Since its origin, the word thug has referred to a criminal, mobster, gangster, badboy, or anyone involved in criminal activity, or roughneck behavior. The action or actions define the individual. For instance, any woman can have a child, but the actions of that woman define her as a mother, as in the case of Toya Graham.
From the moment Tupac introduced ‘thuglife,’ the music industry and Black culture have embraced the label ‘thug’ as a street cred, or badge of honor. We watched as gangsta rap artists profited from the glorification of thuglife, while Black youth seemingly destined to live life on the frays of society, called each other the N-word or thug, as a term of endearment. During this time, we were silent.
Now, Blacks are at a crossroad asking: “Where do we go from here?” As the debate continues about the use of the word thug, the real question is: “How do Blacks want to define and represent themselves to the rest of the world?” The answer to that question begins with knowledge of self!
The world is watching!