A “thug” (1810) is someone who is violent with little regard for the law. Like “savage” and “terrorist”, it has become highly racialized, especially since 2009.
Think like a White racist:
savages = Native American men;
terrorists = Muslim men;
thugs = Black American men.
White Americans use these words to stereotype the men of an out-group as dangerous and naturally violent, as lacking morals and empathy. Whites then use that as an excuse to act in just that way towards them: violent, no empathy, no morals. Drones, police brutality, genocide.
You can see how racialized the word “thug” has become in 2015. Here is how many web pages use the following phrases according to Google:
- 497,000 “black thugs”
- 88,700 “Latino thugs” + “Hispanic thugs”
- 87,100 “white thugs”
- 8,520 “Asian thugs”
- 3,440 “ray rice is a thug”
- 6 “charlie sheen is a thug”
Even though Sheen has a much longer history…