Lists, Pop Culture, Theory & Essay

Everyday Livin’ In #Thugnation

Since we’ve spent some quality time around here talking about emo dudes and people with degrees, I figure the least we could do was dedicate a little bit of time to the thugs that read VSB. Believe it or not, they make up a sizable percentage of VSB regulars. Between hooridin’, drivebys, social network gangsterism and organized f*ckery, thugs take out a little time every day to read a little bit on current events, check police blotters, and read about relationships. Believe it or not, gangstas need love too.

While I realize that most of us limit our thug tolerance to family reunions and coming-home-before-you-go-back-in parties, the truth is many thugs are just like us only with the foot of intolearnce and systemic injustice and racism standing on their neck while the rest of us get to live in a post-racial America rife with unicorn grass, meliflous waterfalls of sugary goodness, interracial marriage, and A Different World re-runs. Thugs don’t get the re-runs. Do you know how hard it is to bootleg FiOs??

The other day, I got to thinking about some things that are everyday occurrences for most of us reading ninjas and realized that the, real talk, thugs have a whole lot of the same similarities simultaneously. Yep, we parallel. See, it turns out that all of us are just peoples at the end of the day. And peoples do folks things. For in-stahns, here is a list of things that thugs and us reading ninjas really do have in common, our simultenous similar parallels, if you will.

1. Listen to and love Michael Jackson

True story alert. A long time ago I was at my grandmother’s house in Atlanta and one of my recently unincarcerated cousins was hanging out and an argument about Michael Jackson’s best album breaks out. Me, one of my sisters, and two of my other cousins are going at it. Out of nowhere, Zone 4 Mo tells us all to shut the f*ck up because “ain’t no argument. Mike ain’t had a bad album. Off The Wall was good, Thriller is a classic beyond all else, and Bad might be his best album that nobody talks about. Y’all don’t know nothing about Mike.” This from a dude who wasn’t afraid of jail and couldn’t care less about getting locked up. And you know what, that made me realize: who doesn’t love Michael Jackson? We all grew up on him. It’s impossible to not like Michael Jackson if you’re Black and between the age of 18-98.

2. Have odd hobbies

Have you seen Clockers? I don’t think its a particularly good Spike Lee movie but it comes on a lot for some reason. Anyway, Mekhi Phifer played a clocker named Strike who had a crazy affinity for trains. And you know what, that didn’t seem odd. It’s like all thugs look for some type of escape from sh*t and end up interested in Mongolian macrame or staplers. It never fails that you’ll end up talking some thug dude and some how, some way, some random association will come up and you’ll find out that your neighborhood d-boy knows everything there is to know about car engines despite never having driven before or Johann Sebastian Bach. Regular ninjas have these odd fascinations too though I suspect most dudes pick them up trying to impress women. Like jazz flute.

3. Respect for mamas

Everybody respects mamas. Even the most hardcore ninja will at least stop talking when somebody’s mama starts talking. Same thing in the reading ninja world. If somebody disrespects a mama, there is ALWAYS somebody there to be like, “hey man…that’s such’n’such’s mama…be easy, ninja.” Dear mama. Which is why the threat of telling somebody’s mama always carries weight. Hmm…ladies…does the “I’m gonna tell yo’ mama” threat work on y’all? I’ve only seen it really work on dudes.

4. Get upset about gas prices

Overheard at the Sunoco on Riggs Road (DC/MD line): “Gotdamn!!!! Yo, the president need to do something these gotdamn gas prices, mo.” Nobody likes paying a lot for gas, pimp.

5. Make you take off your shoes when you come in the house

One of the funniest memories I have from my youth was when I went to visit my boy’s family in Knoxville, TN. When I say these ninjaswere hood AND lived in the hood, I mean they lived in the hood. House looked like the get-shot-spot. Yet, somehow, someway, these ninjas were impeccably particular about their homes cleanliness. There wasn’t ‘nan beer bottles of ashtrays filled with weed anywhere. The damn house was spotless. It was like a spoof of drug dealers with classical music tastes. In fact, it was like walking into Stringer Bell’s apartment. And these ninjas, were ADAMANT about nobody wearing shoes in their house. Which was, for all intents and purposes, a trap house. Just a clean as f*ck one. For this reason, they didn’t throw parties b/c “ninjas don’t like taking off their shoes.” I wish I was making that up. I laughed so hard…after I left.

Good folks of VSB…it’s Friday. Relax. Relate. Release. What are some other similar simultaneous parallels between thugnation and regular old reading ninjas?


Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at

  • Its been a while since I was awake when a post hit the innanets. It doesn’t seem righ tto lurk.

    What are some other similar simultaneous parallels between thugnation and regular old reading ninjas?

    *Skepticism of yt people. For the thugnation its b/c the yts represent “the law” and for regular old reading ninjas they represent the people who will laugh with you in the break room and then fire you after you finish your sweet potato pie.

  • A Woman’s Eyes

    Thugs know the value of speaking when passing someone or doing the head nod if you’re not going to say anything.

    They too get mad if they see you around the neighborhood frequently but you don’t acknowledge their presence.

  • A Woman’s Eyes

    They too will congratulate a child in the neighborhood for keeping those grades up. They expect their children to do well in school because they didn’t bust their ass for their child to be stupid.

  • Thugs wish the president would have gone Samuel L. Jackson in his speech. Forget content, we just want to see him remind errbody he lives in the South Side of Chicago and y’all don’t know nothin bout that. Seriously, I wish it would have gone down just like this (NSFW audio)

  • Thugs know random ass statistics like the PPG scored by their favorite team. Or they have a favorite “sunday school word they like to drop when convo gets deep: “Say ninja, that Drake joint is so provocative dawg…i was feelin that ish”

  • PrettyBrownBrown

    I have to say a thug wants what everybody wants….. To be loved. In whatever shape or form love comes in. From thier mate, friends, kids, just loved in general.

  • Kidsister

    ” Hmm…ladies…does the “I’m gonna tell yo’ mama” threat work on y’all?”


    My first love was a real thug, a pay phone only using typing thug and he had a thing for ball room dancing. At first, I told him he needed more people but after a while I realized it wasn’t a joke.

    Thugs and Reading Ninjas know the law. I even think Thugs know the law better than Reading Ninjas. They’re just on opposite sides of it.

    WE’RE NOT AGAINST RAP…WE’RE NOT AGAINST RAPPERS…but we are against THOSE THUGS *fades out* thugs…thugs…thugs…

  • Sports. Well actually hood ninjas know far more about sports (read as: the NBA) than reading ninjas.

  • Iamnotakata

    Um interesting piece. But in my opinion you just described a relatively educated thug. Then again I guess we are currently dealing with the “new age” thug if that makes any sense. Lol in my observations the thugs that I have encountered have been a part of this “new age” thug era and are more in tune with politics and worldly things than I would have expected them to be. Some of them even are gentlemen holding doors when I walk in. But then they get real and holler “say black what yo name is” and I remember what I’m dealing with lol…

  • A Woman’s Eyes

    They are proud of their child’s mother being at home as a stay-at-home mother, similar to the bourgeoisie who swear by it as being proof that the children are well taken care of the way they should be. “Baby, you don’t have to work. Stay home and take care of my kids. I got this”

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