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The Slants’ Battle Over Their Name Wages On

Loyal readers may remember back in October of 2013 we ran a post from Simon Tam of the band The Slants. They have been engaged in a long battle with the US Trademark Office to trademark the name of their band. But the US government, always sensitive as it is to perceived racial injustice, believes the name to be a racist slur. The backstory can be read here. This is an open letter Simon Tam has written to the US Trademark Office as their battle continues.

To the US Trademark Office:

Of all government departments, you should know that …

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We Can’t Breathe: Why We Need to Give Racism a Chance

In the wake of the Mike Brown and Eric Garner decisions, of the excessive additional unarmed youth who have been killed in the short weeks following the injustice, and in the face of vast disparities facing our country at every level, I believe that there is an important discussion that we need to be having, but one being generally avoided. 

In our society, we’ve demonized the “R Word” so much so, that people pretend it doesn’t exist in our communities, and certainly not in our government, legal system, or other public spaces. That word, and problem, is racism.

A recent

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Racism With a Twist: The Trademark Struggle Facing Asian American Band, The Slants

Four years ago, my band’s attorney suggested that we get a trademark on our band’s name. It’s pretty standard for bands to do – trademarks ensure that others don’t use the name, causing confusion in the marketplace. The job of the Trademark Office is to regulate the intellectual properties of businesses and artists. I never imagined that this relatively simple process would become a battle lasting four years and counting.

I started an all-Asian American dance rock band to empower people of color, celebrate our respective heritages, and of course, have an outlet for our artistic expression. Our band name