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“Is ‘Thug’ the New ‘N-Word’?” A Discussion

As part of the Black Student Union’s celebration of Black History Month, BSU President Ashley Jeannot ’17, presented a provocative debate over the rise of the use of the word “thug” to describe young, black men.

Jeannot cited statistics from the independent media reviewer, iQMedia, over the exponential spike in the use of the word “thug” following 2010 with a peak in 2014 of 625 uses in broadcast news television alone.

Jeffrey Smith Jr., Director of Multicultural programs, reacted to the statistic by reminding the group that the word “thug” is used when black men appear to dress in way termed as “street” whereas when white men dress in similar clothing they tend to be ridiculed for trying to “be black.” Smith called attention to the double standards applied to young men’s attire: a young black man can wear a hoodie and baggy jeans and appear frightening, while a young white man can wear the same clothing can appear more silly than scary.

Turning the conversation to professional athletics, Jeannot compared media reactions to Cam Newton and Peyton Manning’s respective Super Bowl losses.

Jeannot argued that while Manning showed poor sportsmanship in refusing to shake Tom Brady’s hand following his loss, he received very little bad press. Newton, on the other hand, was the recipient of a maelstrom negativity from both News Media and Social Media.

Looking to New England for evidence of media misnomers, Jeannot examined local and media reactions to the 2014 Keene State Pumpkin Fest Riot and the lack of police intervention in spite of its violence and senselessness.

In order to illustrate the disparity between police handling of primarily white versus primarily black violence, Jeannot showed a Huffington Post clip that addresses the issue of covering white protests versus black protests.

The conversation ended with Jeannot joining the group for a more personal question and answer session, in which many students shared their own experiences with racial stereotyping.

Devon Wright ’17 is a Staff Writer for The Hub. She can be contacted at

Posted by on February 25, 2016. Filed under Around Campus,Clubs & Organizations. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.