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Black Thug Privilege

March 16, 2011

In light of recent news coverage about the “Cleveland (Texas) 18” (link via Gucci Little Piggy), it looks like now is as good a time as any to remind certain people about the true nature of what some call Black (Male) Privilege and why it is an error-laden way of thinking about things like this.

To get the obvious out of the way (so hopefully no one is stupid enough to think that I’m standing up for the rapists or blaming the victim for being raped), yes, it was rape, those rapists are human scum, they deserve to receive harsh sentences with a ruined reputation on top, and hopefully the victim will recover from being violated as best as she can.

The problem with writing it off as Black (Male) Privilege and calling it a day is that it leaves lots of harmful assumptions untouched and unquestioned while we passively wait for the next great tragedy to come along and kick us in the groin. It’s not “Black Privilege” when there are idiots who rail against negative portrayals of blacks in the media enough to scare producers into submission, but try to sneak around the issue that certain black individuals do fucked up things in reality due to their own choice.  It’s not Black Privilege if a journalist doesn’t want to accurately report that several black men raped a brown girl – that’s just a reporter’s cowardice and lack of integrity.  It’s not Black Privilege if a black figure makes a public statement that pisses some people off regardless of what truth may be in those statements.

What we really need to call this kind of stuff is Black Thug Privilege, simply because it better describes what’s really at work here.  It describes how the recording industry and professional sports can nurture a lot of Black Thug types regardless of what crimes they commit, yet if either you’re black but not a thug, or not black but a thug, your chances of getting away with stuff or being easily forgiven for it goes down. It describes why despite there actually being a statistically significant black (male) population in this country that doesn’t live by ghetto values, you’d scarcely know it if all you had to go by was mainstream pop culture.  It describes why for all of the reasons some political ideologues claim our society is in decline, few are brave enough to both point a finger at Black Thug culture and resist the temptation to throw the rest of us boring, invisible black people in with them. It describes why even if an individual hasn’t grown up in the ghetto and experienced true poverty, that individual may still wish to adopt a destructive lifestyle of misanthropy, greed, and anger, all the while pretending that they have it the worst of the worst.  It describes more stuff than I’m willing to set aside space in this post for right now.  Best of all though, it does not equate being black with being a thug or being a thug with being male. If you can’t understand why this is important, seek help immediately.

Where does Black Thug Privilege fit in here? Note that the crime occurred in the ghetto and that several of the assailants already have criminal histories. We also haven’t heard from any fathers yet, neither of the victim nor the assailants, which also tends to correlate with thug-breeding environments. After the rape, the rapists were emboldened enough to circulate pictures and videos of their crime, likely in the belief that either no one would report it out of fear, or that people would actually be impressed with whatever swagger the rapists thought they had.  Not one of these sick perverts has expressed any remorse for what they’ve done. After all, with Black Thug Privilege, such a thing can just be written off as unnecessary and some people will be reluctant to even call them out on it, like some women right in the middle of it.

Until we stop immortalizing the Black Thug as the dominant (and therefore praiseworthy) face of the black community to the exclusion of nearly anything else, wickedness like a pack of men engaging in rape will continue and nothing will truly change. We’ll just throw more niggas in cages, pat ourselves on the back, and continue the cycle with little incentive to improve beyond it.  That’s great for political rabble-rousing, but bad for human beings.

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