Thursday, January 25, 2007

"Thug" Life

I know I know it's been awhile, but I figured it's time to come out of hibernation and jump start my creative juices.

Above is an article found in today's edition of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. It asks the question, "What is a Thug?" To give you some background, Michael Vick has been catching serious hell about the marijuana in the water bottle incident, which the Miami police claim there was none of, which I don't believe for one second, but that may be the problem. Anyway, radio personalities, callers, and bloggers have been blasting him, calling him a Thug like there's no tomorrow, although Vick has no record and has not been arrested of anything. The article references one talk show host blasting him on his outward appearance off the field saying he wears baggy pants and stuff like that, which I think is just a moronic statement.

So this begs the question, has the word thug come to besically be used to describe young black males that have the hip hop identity and maybe get in trouble? One person in the article said that it's not fair that when a white person gets in trouble, they've made a mistake, but when a black person does, they're a thug. That's very true. Case in point, the Duke lacross team mess.

I do believe the word thug has become synonimous with black hip hop culture, especially when someone black gets in trouble. I'm guilty of labeling people thugs, especially when I see black youth walking down the street with their pants hanging down by their ankles, holding their crotches, shuffling like prisoners in a chain gang. That bothers me a lot actually, but that's a different story. Young folks shouldn't be labeled as thugs just because of their style of dress. I'm sure there are some truly good, smart folks that like to dress with a little sag in their pants and listen to rap music. They're not thugs, but they're perceived to be. I think we're all lumped into the thug category if we dress a certain way, no matter what we do or what type of education we have.

However, I do think the hip hop culture is at fault for this too. The glorification of being a thug has lead to this. Tupac's image, Biggie's image, 50 Cent being shot, the culture is about thuggism. It's glorified 30-40's mob mentality, just with black people. Everyone's looking for respect and will do whatever vile acts necessary to get it. Hiphop is filled with wannabe thugs, so it shouldn't surprise everyone when folks start associating hip hop styles with thuggery.

That being said, it's still not fair to the person being called a thug. Is Michael Vick a thug? I don't know. Can his actions and demeaner portray him as a thug? Probably so. But why wasn't Bill Romanowski a thug for spitting in player's faces or using Roids? Why isn't Rush Limbaugh a thug for beinga pill popper and carrying someone else's medication (that's illegal)? Farve's a pill popper. How often do we hear K-Fed being called a thug. Or is he called a wannabe thug, which goes to the heart that the word is associated with black hip hop culture.

Being a thug vs making a mistake. What's your take?


Blogger headliner said...

I like the article, especially Joe Johnson speaking out. It’s rarely bad when athletes speak out intelligently on social issues (political issues I can understand why athletes rarely enter that arena). On Vick, people who criticize him for his “thugness” should watch him play football to find more relevant things to criticize him for.
On your take I generally agree, the word “thug” has become associated with the negative qualities of hip hop culture (by the way what exactly are the positive qualities of hip hop culture?). I was trying to remember when I first recalled hearing the term “thugged out”. It seems like the mid to late 90’s maybe which I guess fits in with the Tupac argument. I agree that the term is use disproportionately in reference to black males, but I’m not sure it should be considered a racial slur. It is somewhat derogatory (unless you’re Charles Oakley I guess) especially when used to depict someone based totally on their dress or mannerisms. But here is what I find key, in hip hop culture I don’t think being called a thug by the mainstream is considered derogatory. I think some folks like that label portrayed on them. Now Vick (or lets say Tiger Woods) might not like it because it could cause them some Nike endorsement money. I guess I would have more of an issue with it if all of a sudden “thug” became code for “ni…r” IF that is the case (and it could be), then I’m pissed.

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