NBA Hall of Famer and TNT commentator Charles Barkley said on Friday that he believes “thug” and “street cred” are racial slurs that are equivalent to the “N-word.”
Discussing Richard Sherman’s post-game rant on CNN with host Brooke Baldwin, Barkley said he does not really use the word “thug” but said, “it is a racial slur.”
“Some people don’t have the courage to say the ‘N-word’ so they use terms like ‘thug’ and ‘street cred,'” Barkely said. “But that’s what they really mean.”
Earlier in the week, Sherman, in response to being called a “thug” for his post-game rant, made a similar comparison.
“The only reason it bothers me is because it seems like it’s the accepted way of calling somebody the N-word nowadays,” Sherman said at a press conference on Wednesday. “There was a hockey game where they didn’t even play hockey, they just threw the puck aside and started fighting. I saw that, and said, ‘Oh man, I’m the thug? What’s going on here?'”
Breitbart Sports contributor C. Edmund Wright, though, emphasized that the historical roots of the word “thug” have “nothing to do with the African-American race.” In addition, Wright mentioned that “thug” is mostly used among Tea Party members “in reference to white union leaders,” some of whom beat a black conservative at a town hall event in Missouri in 2009.
Wright also noted that even “Urban Dictionary validates this notion, saying specifically that ‘a thug is NOT (emphasis theirs) a gangster.'”
“Thug” is also commonly used to refer to autocrats and dictators like Russian President Vladmir Putin, whom House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said was a “thug” during a Tonight Show appearance on Thursday, and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, who routinely executes his countrymen, including his former girlfriends and uncle.
In politics, the term “street cred” is used to refer what moderate politicians on both sides of the aisle need, in terms of policy preferences, to get the respect and support of both of their respective bases.