Richard Sherman is often labeled a "thug", while Johnny Manziel is labeled a "douchebag".

Richard Sherman is often labeled a "thug", while Johnny Manziel is labeled a "douchebag".

1. thug




1.     a violent person, especially a criminal.

synonyms: ruffian · hooligan · vandal · hoodlum · gangster · villain ·


criminal · tough · bruiser · hardman · goon · heavy · enforcer · hired gun · hood

2.     historical

a member of a religious organization of robbers and assassins in India. Devotees of the goddess Kali, the Thugs waylaid and strangled their victims, usually travelers, in a ritually prescribed manner. They were suppressed by the British in the 1830s.

I started this post with the Merriam Webster’s Dictionary definition because I want you to gain some context to the story I’m about to tell.

My good friend, a very educated and intelligent friend, told me her new neighbors are always “thugging it out” in the pool area.  She said they are always loud and filming with their cell phones.  She also said they probably think she is racist.  Her new neighbors are black; my good friend is white.

This really bothered me.

I asked her if they were doing anything illegal.  She said no, they were just being “annoying”. I also asked her what they were doing that was so “thuggish”.  She said they were loud and shooting rap videos with their cell phones.  Naturally, I thought, “OK, they were not doing anything violent or criminal (the definition of “thug” above). Why is she using the term “thug” to describe these people?”

WHY didn’t she just say they were being “DOUCHE BAGS”?

1. douche·bag



1.     a small syringe for douching the vagina, especially as a contraceptive measure.

2.     N. AMER.


an obnoxious or contemptible person, typically a man.

I mean, it sounded like they fit definition #2 of douche bag.  So why did she not use “douche bag”? Why did she use “thug”?

It brought me back to Richard Sherman and the 2014 Super Bowl.  An aggressive athlete, acts aggressively (does job) in aggressive sport, and makes aggressive comments.  He is black.  He is acting like a thug.  The word “thug” was mentioned 625 times on television following the Seattle Seahawks win ( ), but then I read the recent headlines about Johnny Manziel’s situation and the word “thug” isn’t mentioned anywhere – not even in the comments section.  Serena Williams argues with a linesman at a tennis match and she is labeled “trashy”, “classless”, and a “ghetto thug”; however, John McEnroe can regularly yell at refs his whole career and he is up to his “bad-boy antics” again.

I touched on this with my “Ghetto” post on Justin Bieber, but the words we use are so powerful.  The more we associate words that connote violence and crime with a race of people, the more we associate these behaviors with a group of people subconsciously.  The worst that can happen with a douche bag is he might offend your nostrils with bad cologne and hit on you.  Thugs can hurt you.  Why did my friend choose the more vilifying word to describe the behavior of the group of black men, when I know she would have never used the same word if they were white?  Pay attention to the media – left, right, middle.  Think about the words they choose.  Then ask yourself why?  There is a reason why we choose certain words over others – the English language is vast – and always remember, these words are chosen.

“Trashy”, “Classless”, “Ghetto Thug”

“Trashy”, “Classless”, “Ghetto Thug”

“Bad-Boy Antics”

“Bad-Boy Antics”

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