Today I launched my blog. It wasn’t really ready but I just sort of did it anyway. You know, living on the edge. Anyway, I opened my new gmail account and this is the first email I’ve received for my blog:
This is Simon Tam from Asian dance rock band, The Slants. I’m contacting you today because I am seeking help for our case with the U.S Trademark Office. I noticed you began following the band on Twitter, visited your website, and I think you could help make a difference in our fight.
One year ago, we filed to receive trademark protection for “The Slants.” As you might or might not know, we originally used this outdated racial slur as a point to inject pride into a common stereotype about the Asian American population. The band has had unbelievable unilateral support from the Asian Pacific American community, from major media sources to community organizations.
However, the Trademark Office rejected our claim. For the past year, we have been exhausting a significant portion of our resources in a fight with the U.S Patent and Trademark Office to earn the trademark. They claim that our name is disparaging to persons of Asian descent, citing wiki-sources such as urbandictionary.com and claiming that our efforts in citing dozens of the largest Asian American media figures and press, API festivals, written testimony from API community leaders, and showing other examples of API positively using the term was “laudable” but “not persuasive.”
Not only is the US Trademark Office wrong on the law, but they’re striping away rights from minority groups to have the ability to make their own decisions as to what is appropriate to our communities. By denying The Slants the rights associated with federal trademark registration, the U.S. Government is, in effect, making decisions about how members of a cultural group can define themselves. This is our chance to make history.
I would like to ask if you would be gracious enough to help with us with this case by writing a letter of support (I can send you the form, it only takes a few minutes to complete)? We’re currently enlisting individuals and organizations who are willing to support this fight. We have one final appeal with the Trademark Office and I’d like to use every possible resource for this filing. If you would be able to find the time to do this, we would be forever in your debt.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
What do you think? Should we be allowed to disparage ourselves? I say vehemently YES! I was going to name my blog “Yellow” or, what was my other idea again?… oh yes, “Banana Split.” The url for Banana Split was taken.
Seriously, should The Slants be allowed to trademark their name? Is this a case of racial discrimination? Who is the trademark office protecting anyway? The Slants from Asians? The Slants from name that brands poorly? If you think the trademark office is WRONG, please email Simon to help out. I think it’s our civic duty to rise up and defend our rights. During WWII, we were unable to get our voice heard and guess what happened? Yep, my mom and her family was forcibly removed from her home to be relocated as a perceived “threat.” This is no different folks. It’s a slippery slope to giving up our collective voice.
And check out The Slants. They are not half bad. In middle-age speak, it means my kids will love them!
p.s. And I am so impressed by how well Simon writes. It’s a clear, succinct, and well written letter. It would make his parents proud! It would be churlish to say no!