Critics Argue That “Thug” Has Become the New “N-Word”
Aaron Jones | Staff Writer
Jan. 19, the Seattle Seahawks conquered the San Francisco 49ers 23-17, in the National Football Conference (NFC) Championship, sending them to the 2014 Super Bowl. 30 seconds were left in the game. With the 49ers at the Seahawks’ 18-yard line, quarterback Colin Kaepernick launched the ball swiftly to the end zone, where receiver Michael Crabtree was prepared with his hands open wide. Then Sherman happened. For the win, he leaped with Crabtree, tipped the pass back in-bounds to a teammate and ended the game for the 49ers. Almost instantly, in the midst of celebration, Richard Sherman was pulled aside by sportscaster Erin Andrews for a post-game interview.
“I’m the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you’re gonna get! Don’t you ever talk about me!” Sherman shouted aggressively, clearly still hyped up with adrenaline. The issue comes with the reaction that Sherman evoked from the media. IQ Media reported a significant spike in the usage of the word “thug” on television the following day. The company which monitors closed captioning reported the word “thug” was used 625 times. That’s more times than the word has been used on TV in the past three years.
What do you know about that thug life? Is it a term we embrace in the Black community as when Trick Daddy rapped “this is the life for me, baby cause I’m a thug,” or is it more of an undesired, derogatory reference we often get thrust upon us? The Seattle Seahawks reigned victorious in Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVIII. With all the excitement, the recent controversy surrounding cornerback Richard Sherman has died down. There was one monumental play that sent the Seahawks and Sherman to the Super Bowl, and one irreverent interview that caused a social media firestorm toward him, sparking discussion on what it means to be called a “thug.”
Many spectators considered Sherman’s actions on Jan. 19 as a display of poor sportsmanship. This is understandable, as his outburst was undoubtedly aggressive and boastful. But why is it that his actions caused so many people to associate him with being a “thug?” Some would argue that it was simply his demeanor, emphasized with the aggression and his towering, 6-foot- 3-inch, hulky build. But there is another factor at play, Sherman is Black.
In a follow-up interview on Jan. 22, Sherman spoke out about the thug references. “The only reason it bothers me is because it seems like it’s the accepted way of calling somebody the N-word nowadays. You fight it for so long, and to have it come back up and people start to use it again, it’s frustrating.” Sherman makes an important point with this statement, one worth the discussion it has received. Did any of the critics take the time to open a dictionary and read the definition of “thug” before referencing Sherman with it 625 times? If they had, they would have seen it defined as “a brutal ruffian” and “a violent criminal,” neither of which being a description Sherman fits. Had any of the masses of people who referred to Sherman as a “thug” known details about him aside from his rant, they would have seen that Sherman is quite the antithesis of what a “thug” is. Despite being from Compton, California, a city with a particular stigma, Sherman graduated second in his high school class and went on to graduate from Stanford University.
There are several public figures who have displayed similar, if not worse, acts of aggression, when they were not pumping full of adrenaline and coming off of a victorious moment in their career, who don’t cause the media to reference the word “thug” 625 times. They also happen to not be Black. Take Alec Baldwin for example. A renowned actor in the public eye for decades, he’s been involved in several incidents in recent years where he shouted and insulted paparazzi and a flight attendant, and has even been accused of assault. Another example could be the superstar Justin Bieber. He has been recorded jumping out of his car aggressively and communicating threats, throwing eggs at his neighbor’s home, and arrested on charges of DUI. He is consistently one of the media’s most talked about figures, and while he’s certainly under scrutiny, he isn’t labeled a thug. However, If we look back at last year’s Trayvon Martin case, the word “thug” began showing up in headlines once pictures surfaced of him smoking and wearing a grill.
Unfortunately it seems that within the media, a “thug” has become synonymous with being Black and aggressive and not specific to individuals who are destructive to their communities when being involved in violence and crimes like drug dealing and drive-by shootings. The media is in a state where it is important to know what it means to be a thug, and should be careful about who the label is applied to in the press.
February’s theme for Nubian Message is #WakeUpNCSU. The Nubian staff and WKNC’s @JustDezBruh compiled a list of 28 tracks for the 28 days of the month. Each week we will drop a different playlist to promote social awareness and Black Consciousness. Be on the lookout for these songs to drop, and #WakeUpNCSU!
Acceptance and Retention Rates of African-American Students and Faculty Addressed
Aaliyah Singleton | Staff Writer
On Tuesday, Chancellor Randy Woodson along with Provost Warwick A. Arden met with members of the Afrikan American Student Advisory Council (AASAC) to discuss topics concerning the issue of diversity at N.C. State. Among the information presented to AASAC during the meeting was that the acceptance rate for African-American students at N.C. State has risen by 28 percent in the last year.
Early on in the meeting, the Woodson stressed that inclusion and student success were among his administration’s top priorities. “I believe that universities should set the example for diversity in this country,”said Woodson.
Arden echoed these sentiments, offering a more complete idea of the administration’s overall commitment to diversifying the college experience for students. “Campus should be a unique and inclusive model for society in that it creates a rich intellectual and scholarly environment for students of all kinds to thrive,” said Arden. “We’re committed,especially this administration, to inclusion and creating a more diverse campus for our students.”
In terms of combating the loss of African-American faculty members at N.C. State, Woodson, addressed what he considered to be the real problem. “The issue really isn’t about recruiting minority faculty, it’s more about retaining them,” said Woodson. “A lot of [other] universities frankly, have a lot deeper pockets than we do at this time, and you can’t make progress when you lose as many on the back end as you are on the front end.”
Arden supported these statements, speaking directly of the successes of his strategic action plan, a unified, cross-college endeavor put together in order to retain and enamor the hearts of tenured professors. “From the start, the plan was dynamic in that it actively involved all the stakeholders (students, teachers) from day one,” said Arden. “We followed the plan doggedly so that now we have programs and initiatives to help bond our incoming faculty to the school including hands-on diversity training where we cover topics such as unconscious bias. We also have our target of opportunity program, mentorship programs and the University faculty honors program to award tenured professors who have stuck by and invested in our N.C. State community.”
Despite concerns that the number of African-American faculty is relatively low, Woodson was very complimentary of Arden and his efforts to increase the number of African American faculty members. He also offered praise to the “amazing Black leaders on campus,” who he said use their time outside of class to provide much needed guidance and mentorship to students transitioning into life on campus.
Woodson, noted that a sense of community was important for students and faculty. “When you’re not in the majority you really need a supportive network around you,” said Woodson. “That’s what I feel a lot of the staff has done in that they have really tried to help students in whatever ways they can, in order for these students to succeed in and out of the classroom.”
In terms of student success, Arden pointed to recent data showing that African-American students appear to have had the greatest increases in graduation rates since the implementation of the strategic action plan. These gains represent an eight percent boost in the six-year graduation rates of Black N.C. State students during the past three years.
The scope of Tuesday’s meeting extended to financial aid with Vice Chair of AASAC, De-Kia Battle, an in-state student, who discussed the benefits of her Chancellor’s Leadership scholarship. “It really helped me out as a student to be able to afford college,” said Battle.
On the other end of the spectrum, Dechia Adesegun, chair of the Black Student’s Board, and an out-of-state student said, “ Unfortunately, [out-of-state students] don’t get as many opportunities for financial aid,” said Adesegun. “ It’s hard to afford school, especially when the school doesn’t see you as a need-based student, even when in your particular or individual situation,you are.”
According to Woodson, the biggest discriminator on who receives financial aid is a students’ needs or merit. He also said that of the approximately 50 percent of N.C. State students who receive financial aid, the University meets about 80 percent of their financial needs.
As for things that AASAC members can do to help contribute to the overall diversity at N.C. State, Woodson encouraged students to help prepare future members of the Wolfpack. “There is a big opportunity for you to stay connected to your communities,” said Woodson. “[Let potential applicants know] ‘If you do the work, you will have the opportunity to attend a university like N.C. State.”
The acceptance rate of African American students at N.C. State has reached an all time low. Wake Up!
Of the 30 active organizations in the Afrikan American Student Advisory Council (AASAC), only four non-NPHC organizations have Black male leaders. Wake Up!
On the largest public campus in North Carolina, only one building is named after a person of color. Wake Up!
North Carolina has set in place some of the most restrictive and suppressive voter ID laws of any state in the United States. Wake Up!
The Black employment rate is consistently twice that of white Americans. Wake Up!
Chicago reported 20 murders in the month of January, 18 of which were shootings of 19-year-old Black men. Wake Up!
77 percent of Nigerian women have admitted to using carcinogenic skin bleaching creams. Wake Up!
The Stand Your Ground defense is being employed to justify another Black teen’s murder in Florida. Wake Up!
The video of Sharkeisha has reached more than two million views. Wake Up!
Black males in Raleigh have a 39 percent suspension rate, 22 percent higher than the national rate. Wake Up!
Travyon Martin would have turned 19-years-old today. Wake Up!
With so many things going on in the Black community, this is no time to sleep.
In celebration of Black History Month 2014, the Nubian Message staff has a mission to spend the entire month waking up as many people on N.C. State’s campus as we can. We were inspired to #WakeUpNCSU after reflecting on all the stories we have reported on this school year, seen in the news, and experiences we have lived that shouldn’t, nor do they have to be, the norm. We will keep the #WakeUpNCSU movement alive by releasing a video each week. Stay tuned throughout each Wednesday in February for installments of this video series.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Mind Body and Soul
- Letter to the Editor