In this clip, Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes (12th District) debates the use of the word “thug” and how the media, especially conservative outlets, have used it as a stand-in for a racial slur, and how it’s used a divider between races.
Chris Cuomo approaches the issue openly, confirming with Stokes that he believes “it’s a code, and you’re talking around a reality that nobody wants to address- that not everybody who breaks a window is the same”.
Stokes agrees, and elaborates that “Often times you hear University of Kentucky, Maryland, after particular sporting events, they riot, the burn cars, you know what we call those rioters? College students.”
He goes on to say that the kids in poor communities believe “thug” is a racial epithet, and that “to have a healing process, you need to engage these kids, not labelling, branding, using harsh words.”
Stokes insists that a minor incident of vandalism is not who those kids are, they are not born criminals, they are merely frustrated youths, and if you were to call them anything at all, “call them our hope. Call them our future. Call them our legacy. Bring their expectations up. Don’t give them a brand that they will live down to.”
It’s a powerful statement from Stokes, who has it right on the mark. Baltimore City never expected its ghetto children to ever be anything more than “thugs”, never gave them the opportunity to do so, never invested in their future, and now the children are acting out in response.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.