According to the Urban Dictionary (http://www.urbandictionary.com), Tupac Shakur redefined "thug" to mean "someone who is going through struggles, has gone through struggles, and continues to live day by day with nothing for them. That person is a thug. and the life they are living is the thug life."
I'm not sure when or by what authority Tupac made this change but the word obviously means something different to the black community than it does to the white community.
In my 22 years working in federal prisons the word "thug" was used often by staff when referring to inmates of any race or skin color. The word "convict" was also used. After all, that's what they were -- criminals, convicts... thugs.
On Sunday, the mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, when speaking of the people who were vandalizing, looting and setting fires in her city during the ongoing protests, said “Too many people have spent generations building up this city for it to be destroyed by thugs who, in a very senseless way, are trying to tear down what so many have fought for.”
Baltimore City Council President Jack Young on Sunday also referred to those people who were destroying property as criminals and thugs.
Even President Obama echoed the mayor's sentiment yesterday saying, among other things, “My understanding is you’ve got some of the same organizers now going back into these communities to try to clean up in the aftermath of a handful of protesters — a handful of criminals and thugs who tore up the place.”
But now at least two of those people are apologizing for using the "T-word," as it's now being called. Yesterday, Mayor Rawlings-Blake said in a press conference: “I wanted to say something that was on my heart … We don’t have thugs in Baltimore. Sometimes my little anger interpreter gets the best of me,” she said, indicating her brain. “We have a lot of kids that are acting out, a lot of people in our community that are acting out.”
In addition, Jack Young, standing between two confirmed gang members (who seem to have become heroes to the city administration during this incident) made the following statement to the media:
"I made a comment out of frustration and anger when I called our children ‘thugs.’ They’re not thugs. They’re just misdirected. We need to direct them on a different path by creating opportunities for them.”
Apparently complaints about the T-word made the mayor and councilman change their stories. And they are both black.
Changing her story is nothing new for the mayor. On Sunday she said the police were to give space to those who wanted to destroy things. After it happened she denied saying it - despite the video evidence.
Another Baltimore City Councilman, Carl Stokes, was one of those denouncing the use of the T-word. On CNN last night Stokes equated it with the N-word, despite the actions of the protesters.
"Of course it's not the right word to call our children thugs," Stokes said. "These are children who have been set aside, marginalized who have not been engaged by us."
The CNN reporter interrupted: "But how does that justify what they did? That's a sense of right and wrong. They know it's wrong to steal and burn down a CVS and an old person's home. I mean, come on."
"Come on? Calling them thugs?" Stokes asked. "Just call them n-----," he said. "Just call them n-----. No, we don't have to call them by names such as that. We don't have to do that."
Stokes then challenged the reporter.
"You wouldn't call your child a thug if they should do something that would not be what you would want them to do," Stokes said.
But the reporter shot back: "I would hope I would call my son a thug if he ever did such a thing."
President Obama has not apologized for using the T-word as of yet. It will be interesting to see if he does and to see if he is also criticized for using it.
I can't help but wonder if black people call each other the T-word on the street but the word is off limits for whites to use - just like the N-word. That seems to be the direction we're heading. Of course, with all the other "code words" that supposedly refer to black people (inner city, states' rights, cut taxes, law and order, welfare, food stamps) it certainly won't be the last. In this day and age of political correctness at any and all costs, it won't surprise me if the word "black" becomes the next word whites cannot say because, well.... it means "black."