During Paris Fashion Week, rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, hosted a “secret” event on the catwalk where models wore T-shirts bearing the words “White Lives Matter.” Yi had planned to sell the T-shirts before boxes full of T-shirts were eventually delivered to homeless camps in Los Angeles, and the design was never officially released.
Now, anyone trying to sell a White Lives Matter T-shirt or use the phrase for financial gain will receive a cease-and-desist letter from two Black Radio hosts who own the brand.
Ramses JA and Quinton Ward are hosts Civic blades, a radio program based in Phoenix. One of the show’s listeners reached out to them and told the hosts that they had acquired the trademark for White Lives Matter, but thought that protecting the ferry was best left in the hands of Ja and Ward.
“The listener didn’t want to be associated with this in any way, but they understand the importance of ownership,” Ja told NPR. “You can prevent bad things from happening by owning it. You can shape outcomes.”
The listener, wishing to remain anonymous, was listening to him Civic bladesWhich, the hosts explained, delve into conversations about political representation, voter disenfranchisement, voter suppression, and police brutality.
“We’re talking about all the things to talk about, right?” Ja told NPR. “This person listens to our show and says, ‘You know, who’s going to be the best decision maker in the future of this thing that I have right now?’ You will be these gentlemen. And so this person reached out to us again, saying, “Hey, look, if anything happens in the future, financially, please, you know, donate half to these specific foundations.” And we intend to do that if that day comes.”
After speaking with the listener, Ja and Ward took some time to discuss what it meant to be the two people who would keep this brand. It’s a brand with a lot of weight: The Anti-Defamation League notes that a file The phrase is “a racist response.” For the Black Lives Matter movement. In addition, white supremacist groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, use the phrase.
“We had to sit with that for a while because the optics around something like this can get away from you,” Ward told NPR. “We have positioned ourselves in such a way that we can feel overwhelmed, there are more things we can do in the future. But for now, if we are asked to be the protectors, we will. We will live up to that call, and we will do our best to do it right. By everyone. You know, obviously, again, we often feel the greatest need in the black community, especially with black women. And that’s where we focus a lot of our efforts and energy. But we are brothers and sisters to all the men and women on this planet. “.
The trademark became official to them on October 28, giving them sole ownership and the right to sue anyone who uses the phrase for financial gain. Owning a phrase like White Lives Matter can lead to critical feedback for hosts about what they should or shouldn’t do with their ownership of the brand.
“That was part of the scary thing about personalizing this brand,” Ward told NPR. “Ramses and I walked 4 or 5 miles that day just trying to get around what just happened.” “And we understood that there was going to be some responsibility that would come with that, some backlash, some people who didn’t understand. But we are equipped to have those conversations.”
The response received by each of the radio hosts has been overwhelming, with many positive reactions to this news on social media. Currently, neither of them have heard from Ye’s representatives or anyone looking to purchase the brand.
“For us, it’s about giving people a little bit of hope when they’re dealing with despair, and giving people a little bit of a silver lining,” Ja said.
“Every day there’s a new headline with this very visible person, which establishes or supports a very malicious narrative and allows a certain base of this country to point at it and say, ‘Look, it feels that way, so it’s okay if you feel that way too, right? So, for us, taking a little bit of that back and giving it to the people on the front lines and being kind of on the bottom of that feels good.”
Both hosts understand that stopping the sale of clothing or items for White Lives Matter will not be easy. They are working with a lawyer and planning to send cease and desist letters to anyone trying to make financial gain from the phrase.
“If we feel that someone is taking advantage of, you know, selling any clothing, … our federally protected brand, we can sue them and get the damages back, and we can sue for copyright infringement, allowing that lawsuit to get a lot bigger,” he said. Ja for NPR.
Both hosts said they understand that stopping illegal sales across countries or online will not be an easy task. Unlike the big companies, they don’t have full legal teams to stop the sale of illegal goods.
“We definitely had to think about that [that] It’s all about brand protection now, through thick and thin – we’re in the business. So, we’ll see how it goes,” Ja said. But so far, it was the symbolism of that, and the impact of that was so meaningful, especially to the communities that were so hard hit…by one person in particular saying some very hurtful things. So I want to take a moment while we are here to acknowledge the pain my brothers and sisters in the Jewish community have been through in recent weeks.”
Having a brand is a responsibility that neither hosts take lightly, and one that they hope will lead to good and beneficial results for others.
“You know, a lot of people are referring to Black Lives Matter when they’re trying to be, when they’re trying to scrutinize that movement. And not realizing that the term arose out of so much pain, a lot of people in this country feel like a foot is on their neck, a knee On their necks, you know, under the thumb of an entire system of their entire existence. And all these others — quote, unquoted — Lives Matter was born just to oppose it, only to oppose Black Lives Matter, not to uplift those other communities, because they didn’t ask for it,” Ward told NPR .
“Now that our faces and our names are tied to this, there is a responsibility for the results to be good. Like, we can’t hide… that… is part of the responsibility. [and] We accept it. If there are any outcomes, especially financial outcomes, they cannot benefit us. So we can’t go buy a new car or go on vacation. They must serve and build these communities that have been damaged by the rhetoric that appears on the other side of black lives matter,” Ward said.
Neither host knows what the future holds now that they own the ferry. They have considered donating the brand to an organization they believe can be responsible and help protect it.
“We have no idea what’s going to happen next, but with our names and faces tied to this now, it’s our responsibility that these outcomes are positive and uplifting and that these headlines are positive and uplifting, until the stories stop being about division and hurt and pain and more, you know, about Building bridges, tolerance and love, you know, helping traditionally disadvantaged people,” Ward said.
Ja sees this as a moment to educate and learn how to handle an issue and deal with it in a way other than getting angry or not getting involved. Rather than watching from the sidelines, both hosts now see this as a way to share and hopefully help the causes they believe in.
“I think it’s a moment that everyone can learn from,” Ja told NPR. “And I hope the outcome we’ll see is positive.” “There are more ways to fight back and oppose. You know, it’s like we have to fight this battle with one hand tied behind our back and one shoe uncovered, you know, that kind of thing. But, you know, every little bit helps. And I think. That this story is inspiring. At least that’s what I gather from other people. He definitely inspired us when he came to us.”
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