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Digital Subscriptions > Quill & Quire > December 2017 > After words

After words

Toronto indie press BookThug looks to rebrand its racially charged name


ACCORDING TO linguists, the origin of the word “thug” traces back to 1350s India – a Hindi word used to describe a ruffian or thief. The word’s earliest adoption in English dates back to the early 1800s, but it took on new meaning in the 1990s, thanks to the then burgeoning hip-hop scene and Tupac’s iconic “Thug Life” tattoo. It wasn’t until 2014, when Seattle Seahawks player Richard Sherman spoke out in an interview about how “thug” has become a coded racial epithet to refer to a Black person, that discussion of the word’s usage entered the broad public forum. Later that year, the vegan cookbook series Thug Kitchen – now published in Canada by HarperCollins and named after the pottymouthed blog of the same name – took heat when it was discovered that its anonymous authors were both white.

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