I don’t know if you’ve noticed it, but I hear the word “thug” a lot when it comes to African-Americans protesting generations of injustice, but not when it comes to white people rioting over a sports event or whose bike has prettier chrome.
Actually, I don’t know why the bikers in Waco, Texas, were rioting, but I haven’t heard the word “thug” used to describe them. On the other hand, a kid who MIGHT have taken a box of cheap cigars was a thug and a criminal. A kid who was arrested for no cause and died in police custody of a severed spine and other injuries was a thug.
But these men, who actually killed people, weren’t shot in the back, nor did they die by shooting themselves in the head while cuffed behind their backs in a police car, as happened in Durham, NC, a couple years ago.
I notice people who riot because their favorite sports team won (or lost) the championship aren’t called thugs, even when they’re overturning cars or burning down buildings. They’re just overzealous fans.
After Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, the Associated Press sent a couple of photos a day or so apart. The first one was of a white man “gathering supplies for his family,” which consisted of water and diapers. The second was of an African-American man carrying water and diapers, but the caption said he was looting.
But we’re post-racist, right?
Eric Rudolph is sitting in prison under a life sentence because he bombed the Atlanta Olympics and killed two people; Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s bomb in Boston killed three people, but he was sentenced to death. I guess that’s because only Muslims can be considered terrorists.
When I mention that white people aren’t called thugs in the press when they riot or go on shooting rampages or set fires, people usually cite the burning of buildings and businesses, making it obvious that they care more about property than the lives of young black men who are dying at the hands of police.
If people don’t rise up, the abuse just continues. What are people supposed to do when they’re 27 times more likely to be killed by a police bullet than someone with a lighter skin color? Are we all supposed to just shrug and sigh and say we wish things would get better?
My 2-year-old great-granddaughter is mixed race. If you ask her what color she is, she’ll cheerfully tell you she’s black. Nobody taught her that, by the way; she just came up with it one day when her mom was asking her about her colors. What that means to me is that her life is in danger. She is at higher risk of so many awful things.
I don’t hear the N-word very often anymore, but I do hear the word “thug.” I hear it a lot, but I only seem to hear it in reference to young black men — especially those young black men who are injured or killed by police.