If Kanye West was hoping to sell a bunch of “White Lives Matter” shirts to right-wing followers, he’s got another thing coming!
As we’ve been reporting, Ye dumped a whole bunch of those shirts among the homeless population down on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. That little stunt has caused its own set of problems for those struggling to survive down there. But there’s a reason Ye didn’t sell them instead: because he can’t!
Capital B reports that two radio hosts — Ramses Ja and Quinton Ward, who helm the show Civic Cipher out of Phoenix, Arizona — are the owners of the “White Lives Matter” trademark. Oh, and did we mention Ja and Ward are Black?!
So in order to legally sell shirts with that slogan emblazoned on it, Ye (or his Paris Fashion Week ‘WLM’ stunt partner Candace Owens, or anyone trying to push white supremacist messages) has to license the hosts’ trademark. And so far that hasn’t happened.
The news outlet interviewed Ja about how he and his co-host came about owning the commercial rights to such a shocking statement. Ramses detailed how a listener of theirs actually bought the trademark first, and then handed it off to the two public figures:
“So we have a listener who decided they wanted to own the right to create, produce, and sell shirts that say ‘White Lives Matter.’ This individual didn’t want to produce those shirts, but rather it’s my understanding that they were doing it to ensure that the right people benefited from it. This person procured it but didn’t really love owning it, so they approached us to ensure that the right people benefit from it and that people aren’t hurt by it. They felt we were in a much more public position to use it to the advantage of Black folks.”
Not a bad theory, honestly. If some bigot is going to try to profit off that awful slogan anyways, why not make them pay hand-over-fist to have access to it, ya know?! Ja explained:
“Where we land on it is that somebody will own that trademark because it has fully entered into our popular vernacular. So someone will own the right to produce and sell clothing with the phrase. Still, I would rather live in a world where the profits from those sales go back to help offset the pain it causes rather than live in a world where I have nothing to do with that.”
Ja also said that while there are no plans for them to use the trademark themselves, they are open to making someone pay a s**t load of money to license the phrase! That money, the radio host said, could be donated to progressive organizations like Black Lives Matter or the NAACP:
“Someone could come to our lawyer or us and say, ‘Hey, you have the exclusive right to make and sell those clothes in the United States of America. I would like to buy the trademark for millions of dollars.’ If we were to sell that trademark, for whatever amount of money, we could donate that money to causes that we feel would benefit Black people, like the NAACP or Black Lives Matter organizations. Because, realistically, we cannot stop the shirts from being made right now. We can write cease and desist to people selling these shirts right now, but that is a big monster that requires teams of lawyers and thousands of dollars that we do not have. Otherwise, at the end of a long-standing, occupying type of position, we can maybe donate the trademark to Black Lives Matter or any racial justice organization with the resources to send out cease and desist letters all day, every day.”
So could the Hurricane rapper come up with the cash to get going on this? Maybe. He did have that kind of money — back before he was the kind of guy that wanted to make these t-shirts. But he hasn’t reached out so far! The Civic Cipher co-host said:
“No, not that I’m aware of.”
Still, it’s nice to know these guys (and their listener who applied for the trademark in the first place) were shrewd enough to capitalize on something that is otherwise so offensive. Sorry not sorry, Ye!
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