Thug is Racist? Really?

Bob Goosman. Facebook.

Bob Goosman. Facebook.

A Dallas weatherman who resigned before he could be fired over a Facebook post calling the victims of police violence “thugs” said he didn’t know the comment would be interpreted as racist, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Bob Goosmann, formerly chief meteorologist for KRLD, posted the comment on Wednesday and by Friday had resigned, stating that he would have “rightly” been fired had he not.

“As many of you have probably noticed, I’ve stayed away from politics on FB,” Goosmann had written. “The DNC parading the mothers of slain thugs around on their stage has me furious.”

He has since deleted the post.


“I used the word thugs in my post, but I thought a thug was just a violent person,” Goosmann wrote in response to criticism. “The definition of thug does not mention any race. I will say I talked with an African American acquaintance and he told me that he feels like when he hears the word, it is in reference to an African American individual. I had NO IDEA.”

Perhaps if you actually talked with people of colour now and then, you might have known that. Not that I believe that “I had no idea” line.

Via Raw Story.


  1. Kengi says

    I talked with an African American acquaintance

    I’m surprised he didn’t claim a mythical “black friend” who uses his bathroom.

  2. says

    Kengi, yeah, I was surprised it wasn’t a “friend” he mentioned. At least he was honest about his utter lack of contact with people of colour.

  3. Kengi says

    How does a person work in a big city newsroom and not even think they have any black friends? Never mind not actually having any black friends. Oh yeah. By being a racist asshat. Duh. Says he stays away from politics on Facebook, and the first thing he manages to say is racist. Working with (or for) him must be excruciating.

  4. says

    In British English, “thug” has no racial overtones. I’m surprised to find that it has in the US.

    But for this person to describe the victims of police brutality as “thugs” shows a lack of comprehension that is astonishing.

  5. says

    Paul Durrant @ 4:

    In British English, “thug” has no racial overtones.

    I might believe that if you were talking about “yob”. It’s pretty damn difficult to miss the racist implications of thug, even if all you do is follow news. I’d think you’d actually have to work at not knowing that one.

    So, thug isn’t in the least racist when used in Britspeak. Is this like how cunt in Britspeak isn’t in the least sexist?

  6. inquisitiveraven says

    If the word “thug” is racist against anyone, it would be Asian Indians. However, I’d say that the guy’s usage in context is racist, not because the word itself is racist, but because the assumption underlying his use of it is.

  7. chigau (違う) says

    The use of ‘thug’ as a substitute for ‘n****r’ is very much a USA phenomenon.

  8. says

    Inquisitiveraven @ 6:

    not because the word itself is racist, but because the assumption underlying his use of it is.

    I’d say that racism has so soaked into the word that yes, the word itself is racist. I’d be surprised if the average person knows the roots, but most people are more than aware of contemporary usage and meaning. Honestly, when ‘thug life’ has been used, for years on end, to describe Black culture, and white people never shut the fuck up about things like ‘thugs in hoodies’, I’d say you have to have your head firmly in the sand to deny the bigotry inherent in the use of thug.

    A lot of white people buy into the notion that all Black people are thugs, and don’t hesitate to say as much. The notion that people of colour are naturally aggressive and violent with criminal tendencies is a common one, and when someone describes murder victims as thugs, you don’t even need to scratch the surface to see and understand the bigotry. This simply perpetuates the narrative that all people of colour who are extrajudicially killed deserved it.

  9. says


    The use of ‘thug’ as a substitute for ‘n****r’ is very much a USA phenomenon.

    Yes, it is. That said, like other things very Amerikkkan, I expect the usage has found its way into other places.

  10. chigau (違う) says

    Of course, the person in the OP is a white male who worked in broadcast media in Texas.
    It would take a stunning level of oblivious to have NO IDEA.
    It’s a trilemma: liar, lunatic, or stinking racist?

  11. pensnest says

    Caine, Paul Durrant @4 is right: I was surprised to learn that in the US, ‘thug’ has come to mean specifically a Black person. I’m British, and the image in my head when I see/hear the word is a solidly-built white man (probably with a shaved head… but maybe that’s just me). It really isn’t a racist word in a UK context. But we can all be aware that it is a racist word in a US context.

    That ‘cunt’ thing? Nope, I don’t like that any more than you do.

  12. blf says

    Backing up the others who are saying thug has no racist connotation in British English, and that I am also Very Surprised to learn it has apparently acquired such a connotation in USAlien-English. I say “Very Surprised” because I used to live in the States and have no recollection of it having such a connotation at that time I live there.

    Multiple sources confirm my suspicion that a racial overtone to thug in the States is quite modern (c.1990s); e.g., A Brief History of the Word ‘Thug’ and Are there racial overtones for the term thug? As an example, from the latter, is this hyopthesis:

    At least one source claims that the choice of the group name was based upon certain mainstream reactions to hip hop music:

    During the early 1990’s, several politicians, including Bob Dole had characterized rap artists as Thugs. Indeed, this was taken as an attack on the hip hop community as a whole. Many, including the late Tupac Shakur, had rejected the criminal implication. It was clear to those in the hip hop community that anyone who attempts to rise from despair would be labeled a Thug. Hence, Thug Life became a phrase meaning “the life one must lead in order to rise through the everyday struggle”; understood by those “in the know” and misunderstood by all others.

    I myself use the word “thug” as an abbreviation for republicans / republican party — derived from “rethuglican” — and have done so without any knowledge whatsoever of this quite new racial connotation. I shall now have to consider whether or not to continue to use thug = republican.

  13. Badland says

    Late to the conversation but I’ll broaden pensnest’s net a bit further. To the best of my knowledge, thug is non-racial in NZ and Australia.

    That said: an American saying thug in America, steeped in Americanism, and claiming it to be colourblind? Yeah no, that’s a bit dumb

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