Originally added to a reblog of a post on Tumblr.
To the creator of this image and those that hold some form of appreciation for it, rather than take what I’m about to write as a personal affront to you, please try to see it as me exposing judgments in your subconscious that you may not have been aware of and now that it’s out in the open, you can address it. Also note that I am a black female who has lived in urban and urbanized suburban areas/cities/towns all her life.
The image above has achieved emblematic status for the Thug Seme Nagisa headcanon. This is definitely the first image that pops into most people’s heads when they think about Thug Seme Nagisa.
The idea trying to be conveyed here is Nagisa as an aggressive (yet playful) seme as well as a thug styled after the common assumed appearance of 16-25 year old black males who live in inner cities and/or are related to the hip-hop/rap music industry or gang scene. That being the case, rather than a bowie knife, the intended impression would be more cohesive if he were brandishing a gun. If the aim was for the sake of parody, then a dildo, perhaps.
Thug Seme Nagisa
The manipulation tactics, emotional bribery, and overall pushy and persistent nature of Nagisa that people have extracted from his personality and inflated to the level of a thug actually fit the profile of a bully. But if you call him a bully, it won’t be cute anymore, especially not on Tumblr. So everyone seems more comfortable labeling him a thug–a concept that for many of you is one that comes as close as your computer screen or your mp3 player, not one that’s in your house, in the house next door, on the corner down the street, or as a go-to representation of any number of people in your diaspora. It’s easy to take the idea lightly when the idea is not a threat to you. Moreover, the thoughts behind this are built on a misconception; more on that later. The other thing about this is the perpetuation of the idea that Nagisa’s status as a seme can only exist alongside manipulation and intimidation. It’s troubling. In this light, as a seme, Nagisa’s actions would be the same as a rapist’s. Although there may be representations of a Nagisa who penetrates a fully-consenting, ready and willing partner, they are so very few and so very far between.
If when you think of a thug the first or only thing that comes to mind is anyone (but usually a black male) dressed and adorned the way Nagisa is, then you’ve accepted a stereotype that’s no more than 30 years old, whereas the term thug predates the stereotype by nearly 200 years–you can look that up. Within urban black communities, ignoring the knife, what is pictured above is more consistent with the image of a gangsta, which is quite different from a gangster and not a synonym for thug. I hope that when I frame it this way, you understand that Thug Life goes deeper than playing dress-up.
Tupac Shakur coined the term Thug Life as a means of redefining a negative concept in a way similar to what a significant portion of the black community has done with the much debated “n-word.” His idea of a thug was someone who was constantly pushing up against life, struggling against the bullshit that ignored, underserved, and marginalized communities call an existence. Though focused on folks in the inner city, it wasn’t limited to them; his interpretation was inclusive of doctors, lawyers, educators and the like. As he, as well as others, saw it, the amount of money in your bank account didn’t matter and neither did your address–because no matter what degrees you had hanging on your wall or whether or not your 30-year mortgage was already paid off, if you were a black male, the greater white conscience considered you a thug. So he took the idea and made it a positive one. It is meant to be synonymous with a life of struggle that is being fought against day in and day out despite the lack of support and resources and constant pushback from the powers that be. In this sense, a thug is someone who uses what they have to build that support, fashion their own resources, and circumvent the powers that be to live a better, and hopefully, struggle-free life.
I could go into where this falls on the culture appreciation-appropriation spectrum, but I think just mentioning it should give you enough to think about.
I’m not here to cast judgment on anyone; I assume that those supporting this artwork and the idea it is trying to push forth meant no disrespect. My intention is to simply make you aware of the other messages the artwork is sending.
If you read to this point, thanx.