Let The Debates Begin. Football Names + The Slants

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

This is an interesting side to the debate on The Slants name and their trademark case, and I was all for them doing what they were doing - but you knew there could also be consequences.

Sure, they're both completely different - because one is taking back the name from the group it's meant to slur and one is not (and I'm sure there's other minutia to talk about) - so I don't think it's fair to say "Well - see what you did Slants?" - but the overall topic is up for debate.

Here's some info from the Washington Post article Why the Washington Redskins are using the case of an Asian American rock band to save its trademark:

...the name, "The Slants," which front man Simon Shiao Tam came up with "to make a statement about racial and cultural issues in this country," to "reclaim" and "take ownership" of Asian stereotypes. Its lyrics are in part inspired from "childhood slurs and mocking nursery rhymes," its albums including titles like "The Yellow Album and "Slanted Eyes, Slanted Hearts." [...] "Redskin’ has a long history of oppression, the football team treats the people as mascots. On the other hand, Asian-American activists have been using ‘SLANT’ to present a bold portrayal of our culture for decades now. THE REDSKINS reinforce stereotypes of savage Native Americans. THE SLANTS breaks stereotypes about Asians Americans, especially in the entertainment industry."

Here's a link to The Slants case on why their cases are dissimilar:

1.Unlike REDSKINS, THE SLANTS is not an inherent racial slur. “SLANT” means a number of different things and the racial connotations are so obscure, nearly every major dictionary publisher removed the racial slur from its list of possible definitions. REDSKINS always has been used as a racial slur and has a long history of demeaning Native Americans. “SLANT” has not. It has been and is a commonly used “neutral” term (according to dictionary experts, it was obscure even during the height of its racial use in 1920-1940). Furthermore, two national surveys showed that Asian American do not find our name disparaging (92%-98% of Asian Pacific Islanders support our use of the name).

2. REDSKINS has a substantial composite of Native Americans demonstrating serious concerns over the name. THE SLANTS has not garnered wide protest from Asian Americans; in fact, quite the opposite. Our band has been supported by lifelong activists, organizations, academics, and other experts who understand the sentiment of our community. We’ve partenered with over 200 social justice and advocacy organizations across North America to focus on anti-racism work.

3. The owners of “REDSKINS” are not members of the “referenced group,” unlike THE SLANTS. It’s important to remember that of the 800+ trademark applications for variations of the term “slant,” only one was denied for being a “racial slur.” In other words, the Trademark Office never considered it to be a slur against Asians until an Asian applied. The Trademark Office clearly expressed that the only reason why they associated our trademark application with a racial slur was because of my race. They wrote, “it is uncontested that applicant is a founding member of a band…composed of members of Asian descent…thus, the association.” In other words, if I were white, like every other applicant in the history of the country, it would have not been questioned to begin with.