Thug Life.

It is very fitting is it not, to feature a mug shot of Martin Luther King Jr. in a column named “Thug Life”?  Thug Life.  What does that mean, anyway?

Long story long, the word “thug” seems to be the go-to word for both liberals (who share the same afrophobia as conservatives) and conservatives (who engage in more overt forms of racism) alike.

Euphemistic language is the American Way.  Euphemistic language is the language of a dishonest society, always in need to hide from specific truths.  Think about how many names sex has, the many euphemisms for penis or vagina in an attempt to be cute, prude, or *ahem* politically correct.  The great socio-political comedian George Carlin once pointed this out in a routine where he states how shell shock became post-traumatic stress disorder.  Both mean the same thing, but, for some reason, we felt the need to keep changing the name, as if removing the usage of one word nullifies the condition.  Of course, changing the word does not change the condition.  Calling a cripple handi-capped or worse — handi-capable — doesn’t change the fact that Bob is in a wheelchair.  Calling a retard slow doesn’t change the speed at which he absorbs information.

Needless to say, America has had a lot of practice in euphemistic language.  So, it should be no surprise that America will have a euphemism for the word nigger.  Thug, is the new word designation for nigger.  White people, we are not stupid.  Sometimes, it’s like you’re that friend who keeps on picking the flea-flicker in a game of Tecmo SuperBowl; we read you.  Considering that we’ve been playing this game since 1776, and it’s 2015 as of date of publishing, do understand we read you pretty damn well these days.

The word thug is rarely, if ever, used in describing white criminals or even people of minor public menace.  Actually it’s almost like it’s used exclusively on black people.  One would argue that it’s not the person but the conduct of the person which grants him such label, but if you look at the light at which Martin Luther King was held in his day, he was referred to as a nigger through and through… And of course, nigger was the 1960’s designation for “thug”.  The numbers don’t lie; Martin Luther King wasn’t revered by whites in his time, in fact, he was reviled.  Being that he DID in fact had an arrest record, this mugshot is more than enough to anathematize him racially, Fox News style.  You can take a look at the hate mail he received while he was alive.  It’s a carbon copy of the hate modern day activists get today.  Ultra-conservative J. Edgar Hoover called MLK “the most dangerous Negro of the future in this nation” — after his I Have a Dream speech.

Most dangerous negro?  Thug life indeed.

While white people today know MLK wasn’t dangerous, the sentiment of the times at which he was considered so is telling.  It is this exact sentiment that sees any truth telling on institutional racism today as “radical” thought.  A research psychologist named Robin DeAngelo pointed out that white people tend to associate mere talk on race relations with danger.  This may put things into perspective for non-whites:  a mass of people of color protesting, may seem uniquely dangerous to whites who only have four racial fears, one of which is merely talking about racism.

Dangerous negroes.  Niggers.  Thugs.  Thug life I suppose.

Thug is the new designation for nigger.  Or maybe, nigger always meant thug, so, it’s the other way around.  Either way you slice it, the context is the same.  White Americans, similar to the adult who who uses cute euphemisms for sex related concepts, prefer to speak in codes in regards to race related concepts.  And of course, the changing of the word doesn’t change the condition.  The condition is a means of discrediting; if I dehumanize you, then I don’t have to listen to you.

Perhaps we should focus on changing the condition, meaning, people need to get their heads out of their asses and discontinue methods to discredit people who are suffering, and begin listening to those people in pain.  If not, then prepare to find many more people engaging in the same dangerous negro thug life as the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King.

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  • Jessica

    I never really thought about this until reading your post. Very well said!

    • Johnny Silvercloud

      Thank you for your support, Jessica!

  • Kamea

    Good article… I can only commet thatTHUG LIFE is actually an acyrnom meaning : The Hate U Gave
    Little Infants F!@# Everyone -TuPac
    #tRueStOrY

  • emry

    Over the years I have come to learn of a number of activists over the years who got whitewashed.

    White historians wrote history as it was taught in public schools, and any black man that they could just write off as an angry savage, they did.

    Any that they could not just write off, they turned into a hero for whatever WHITE cause the “historian” deemed him/her most suited to.

    They turned Martin Luther King Jr. Into a pacifist who preached the gospel of respectability, and Rosa Parks into a frail old lady who was just too tired to get up.

    As a person of my generation, who grew up with the twisted history that was taught in Texas in the eighties and nineties, looking closer as the historical record, and learning about the real people has led me to realize that the truth is far more inspiring than the gentle lies that I was fed as a child.

    As a person who believes in interconnectivity and intersectionality, I think that all activists for every cause should learn the truth, and be inspired.

    I always kind of suspected the truth with MLK, because as much as they could scrub the textbooks, one only had to actively listen to his speeches to see that something in the textbooks just didn’t line up.

    With Rosa parks though, they so thoroughly changed her story that the reality bore no resemblance to the “history.” Learning that she wasn’t a frail old lady, but rather a hell raiser closer to my own age, who had been an activist most of her life was very inspiring.

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