THUG LIFE. Anti-racism activists, black Americans, and rap fans would add a hashtag #Makeofitwhatyouwill to deter any curious layman from going any further. And yet, Thug life is an attitude that everyone should adopt in order to reduce or even stop hatred and violence on earth. No, Thug life isn’t just a gang thing! Thug life is a philosophy of hope and a better world for our children.
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Thug life, from Tupac Shakur to Starr Carter
Thug life refers to the group of rappers formed by the most revered of rappers, Tupac, known for his committed lyrics. Thug life is the one and only album released by the band, the second one having remained on project terms following the assassination of 2pac in 1996. But Thug life, is above all 2pac’s fight to promote the cause of the oppressed, the forgotten of the ghetto. A political struggle which come out as “Thug Life Code” aimed at pacifying gang leaders and reducing violence between black Americans.
“T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E.”, did you know, is an acronym: “The Hate U (you) Gave Little Infants Fucks Everybody”. A twenty years later, in 2017, Angie Thomas published a novel “The Hate U Give”, paying tribute to the famous rapper’s activist commitment. The screen adaptation by George Tillman Jr with the talented Amandla Stenberg as Starr, the main character gave a new life to this philosophy.
One particular scene touched me enormously. In the middle of an altercation, King, leader of the opposite gang, threatens Starr’s father Maverick in the presence of his wife and his three children Seven, Starr and Sekani. No one noticed that Sekani took his father’s pistol. And then the unexpected happens! Sekani, an 8-year-old boy, pointed it at King, shouting : “leave my father alone!”. The police arrive just then and point their guns directly at Sekani.
This is where the title of the film takes on its full meaning. “The Hate U (you) Gave Little Infants Fucks Everybody” . In fact, Sekani, despite the “normal” life that his parents try to offer him, witnesses the violence in his community. He has learnt that he who holds a gun becomes the master. So he did not hesitate to do the same. To break this vicious circle, Starr stood between his little brother and the police, showing a real act of courage.
Children learn by example
In recent weeks, videos of people fighting over toilet paper have been all over the web. The most popular one shows a woman having her hair teared out by two others while begging for even “one” roll of toilet paper. The other video shows an elderly woman struggling to keep her toilet paper in front of a middle-aged woman. But that was abroad, in the panic caused by the Covid-19.
Here in Madagascar, the latest buzz was about Tahisy, a young woman who died after giving birth prematurely and whose husband is suspected of committing forms of violence against her. And even more recently, there was talk of a girl who has been sexually abused by her father for years.
All of these images of violence will become embedded in our children’s subconscious. it is no longer relevant to ask the question: “what kind of world we live in” but “what kind of world will we leave to our children?”. Yet, it would be simpler if everyone did as Starr: break the vicious circle at his or her own level to peacefully combat violence. Let us leave a better world for our descendants by setting examples of kindness, empathy and courage. Children develop by copying what adults do, so it is our duty as adults to show them a role model.
“…parents need to lead by example, adopt the behavior that they want to teach their children and communicate to them their value to their children in ways that make them as important to them as for as they are to themselves.”Jerry Wyckoff, family therapist
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”Proverbs 22.:6
So Coronavirus or not, let us stay human. Let us share what is good in us!
Translated by Antigone