Responses to Damon Wayans'
By Ro Deezy & Dennis Leroy Moore
Ro's Report on Portland's "Nigga What"
Sat, 11 Mar 2006
Thanks for that info … I was not
yet in the loop. Shame on Damon. I mean c’mon, if you
wana make clothes called nigga and if people wana buy it
… so be it. It’s an individual choice. But to attempt
to patent the word / product is utterly ridiculous! What
are black people coming to these days?
The event was ultimately a
disappointment. The panel and poets were on fire! A few
of the audience members had introspective feedback and
comments but …. In an auditorium built to hold several
hundred, there MAY have been 25 occupied seats – and
that’s a big number. When I walked out on that stage and
saw the hundreds of empty chairs, it broke my heart.
Meanwhile, right outside the school, in the heart of our
black community, black folks were everywhere, hustlin’
and bustlin up and down the blocks. The event was
thoroughly promoted so I know it wasn’t just a matter of
people not knowing – it was reflective of not caring.
But for those that were there, it
was an interesting evening. The use of the word nigga
seems to be sharply divided by generations. Those over
40 were absolutely against it a . . . period. Referring to the
historical wrong of the root word, nigger. Those under
20 saw no harm in it, arguing the word is redefined and is spoken
with entirely different contextual meaning. Those
between 25 and 40 (including me) seemed largely
indifferent; able to understand the perspectives on both
sides and mostly admitting to using the word ourselves …
even if just on occasion.
Of course, hip-hop was heavily
referred to as the agent for making the word so popular
amongst the youth. Personally, I think we as a
collective society blame far too many things on music.
I’m not saying that hip-hop is not in some way
responsible for a resurgence and popularity of
self-identified niggas but how many children hear their
parents use that word before they ever listen to a
hip-hop album? Probably more than folks want to admit
The other downside was that the
folks who were present were mostly known community
leaders and activist; that is not a bad thing per se,
but troubling because we already know. The very audience
we hoped to reach – to at least plant a seed of thought
– were not at all on hand and in the end, it felt like a
great task was attempted, but unaccomplished. Hopefully,
the BCAB of PSU or someone – maybe even me – will try
the event again in the future and somehow, round up the
little bruthas and sistas standin on our street corners
and get them in there to start talking …
In tha struggle, Ro Deezy
* * * *
Responds to Damon Wayans' New Company Nigga
Some of you may
have already heard about Damon Wayans new company, Nigga. Yes,
folks that is what its called. He is currently trying
to get the trademark for the term. There is really
nothing new in this story, just more news for conscious
people to get upset and annoyed. If not shed a tear or
Last night I was
contacted by actor Albert Johnson in NJ, who sent me the
story below. I didn't know what to say. I am outraged so
much nowadays, the best I can do is stand in a corner
and stare at the wall. Catanonia Contemporaria.
Or Rageful Nervosiosa. I simply no longer scream,
I get catatonic.
Remember A Hip Hop
Store called Nigger in Malawi? Well, here's just
another to add to the collection. And by the way -
there is a store in Germany opening called Hallo Nigga!
A so-called "Hip Hop" store that was already established
in Amsterdam, although I hear that the store in
Amsterdamn is changing its name to Afros & Gangbangers
(I am serious).
The store is
literally a nightmare. I walked by it and couldn't
believe it...It mainly sells "culture-vulture" fetishes
for White-Europeans desperate attempt to get their fix
of "black" stereotypes. Like an addict. They sell "rasta"
wear, fake afros, CD's, t-shirts, and it’s all run by
white people either with dreadlocks or in baggy pants
and sunglasses with chains. I swear to God I thought I
was either in some strange section of Michigan, L.A., or
It just had that
feel to it, you dig? That white-hipster-shit. Then I
really looked and said to myself: "No, no, no - this is
more like some New York bullshit. In fact, for a moment
I thought I was in Williamsburg!" And of course - who
told me about the store? Two excited White Americans
from North Carolina.
Bamboozled seemed to have been just a movie for many
people. It was a daring work of art and a real attempt
at something, despite its shortcomings. Its meanings
fell on deaf ears, however, but this is certainly not
the first time such a thing has happened...Thus, don't
you think its interesting that Wayans himself was in
that film and now wants to trademark "Nigga"? Another
example of mindless colonialism, self-hatred, and
celebration of ignorance.
There are moments I
really feel I was not made for these times because I
simply don't know how to handle it. I hope this story is
not true, but then again - I often hope a lot of things
are not true and have to find ways of dealing with the
reality. The truth hurts. But then you must stop and
wonder: But whose truth is this? And what is really
going on here?
If you haven't read
Amin Sharif's Fourth World essays and his new
revolutionary ideas (visit
www.nathanielturner.com) He is our
contemporary Fanon, in my opinion and I have been slowly
trying to incorporate and discuss Sharif's ideas here in
Berlin. It has been difficult, but I am learning a
great deal about how to communicate and deal with other
people of color who have been oppressed in Europe
(mainly Arabs and Africans who moved from Turkey,
Uganda, or France - are the ones I have been meeting).
Anyway, I suggest
you read Sharif and begin to chew on these things as you
are trying to get through your daily lives, pay rent,
feed the baby, audition, write your articles, record
your albums, etc. As you continue to try to make sense
out of our times...As you continue to be confronted with
more nonsense and lies and evasion about the horror of
Hurricane Katrina...and as the next day dawns in,
continuously trying to spin - in this universe, in this
world, on this planet and within this society that we
all know is full of apathy and self hatred and racism
and ignorance...and whose one god is MONEY.
(Ever notice how
every or most - celebrities - mention God or like to
"Thank God." Whose God are they talking about? God of
what? Ask yourselves and please continue to raise
consciousness and fight this disease.)
Also - just for a
note of hope and optimism - K.Brisbane - are in the
midst of organizing the very first Tobago Film
Festival. It is a festival devoted to the emerging
black filmmakers and conscious artists of our times and
they are working hard to combat the negative stereotypes
and ignorance that has cultivated our present
generations understanding of themselves and "Black"
people in general.
They are not
necessarily looking for "political-thesis" films, they
are simply looking for honest good work that they want
to present to the audiences in Tobago. If you have any
ideas or suggestions - let me know. I can put you in
touch with them.
Okay guys, sorry
for the rant. Just having one of those days...and I
just so happen to have them all the time. (smile)
Peace, DLM Peace
and Blessings from Berlin, Dennis Leroy Moore
* * * *
Damon Wayons & his new company
Feb, 23, 2006 EST
The actor Damon Wayans has been
engaged in a 14-month fight to trademark the term "Nigga"
for a clothing line and retail store, a search of the
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's online database
Wayans wants to dress customers in 14
kinds of attire from tops to bottoms, and use the
controversial mark on "clothing, books, music and
general merchandise," as well as movies, TV and the
internet, according to his applications.
But, so far, his applications have
been unsuccessful. Trademark examiner Kelly Boulton
rejected the registration dated Dec. 22, citing a law
that prohibits marks that are "immoral or scandalous." A
previous attempt by Wayans was turned down on identical
grounds six months earlier.
"While debate exists about in-group
uses of the term, 'nigga' is almost universally
understood to be derogatory," Boulton wrote to Wayans'
attorney, William H. Cox, according to the application.
Cox and other representatives of the
actor did not respond to interview requests about the
Wayans can appeal the rejection, but
experts in trademark law differ on his chances for
Lynda Zadra-Symes, a trademark lawyer
in California, said Wayans may be successful. She
compared "Nigga" to the successful registration of Dykes
on Bikes. The San Francisco Women's Motorcycle
Contingent fought the Trademark Office for three years
to overturn an initial rejection of a Dykes on Bikes
trademark. The mark was published Jan. 24.
"Because the application was by a
group of lesbians it was eventually allowed to publish,"
"This is a great victory," the group
proclaimed on its website. "It affirms our right to
determine who we are and how we present ourselves to the
However, Tawnya Wojciechowski,
another trademark attorney practicing in California,
compared Wayans' application to the ongoing legal case
where Washington Redskins trademarks have been
challenged by seven Native Americans. "They're going to
have a really tough time," Wojciechowski predicted.
The word "nigga" is ubiquitous in
hip-hop music, where it provides half of a rhyming
couplet radio listeners never get to hear in the
Grammy-winning song "Gold Digger" by Kanye West.
Ol' Dirty Bastard used the term 76
times in the 1999 album Nigga Please, not counting
repetitions in a chorus.
In January, an episode of the
late-night Cartoon Network series Boondocks was
criticized for putting the word in the mouth of a
fictionalized Martin Luther King Jr.
The effort to commercialize "nigga"
drew a sharp response from a black school official who
participated in a forum about the word earlier this
month at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.
"I don't care for it in any form,"
said Dr. Lonnie Williams, associate vice chancellor for
student affairs. "Either way you pronounce it, spell it,
anything associated with it -- I find it offensive."
If Wayans succeeds in persuading the
Trademark Office to permit the mark, he may have to deal
with Keon Rhodan, a 29-year-old entrepreneur in
Charleston, South Carolina, who has been using "Nigga"
on a line of T-shirts, hoodies and other attire for six
years in a part-time, trunk-of-his-car business.
Rhodan attempted to register "Nigga'Clothing"
as a trademark in 2001 and was denied by the Trademark
"They said it was disparaging," he
Rhodan, who is black, said that he's
sold around 2,000 of the shirts at events. When he began
selling the shirts, emblazoned with the term "Nigga," he
thought he would take criticism, especially from older
"I was in the mall with one of the
shirts on, and an old lady said, 'Where did you get that
shirt from?'" he said, expecting the worst. "She
followed me to the car and bought five shirts for her
Rhodan believes that affectionate use
of the term within the black community should make it an
acceptable mark, but the Trademark Office has thus far
has not been persuaded by that argument.
"The very fact that debate is ongoing
regarding in-group usage, shows that a substantial
composite of African-Americans find the term 'nigga' to
be offensive," Boulton wrote in rejecting Wayans.
Though attempts to commercialize "Nigga"
coincide with a generational shift in how the word is
perceived, the clothing is still likely to test some
boundaries, as Rhodan demonstrated in a phone interview.
"You (white people) couldn't wear
it," he said.
See also Stanley Crouch's
New York Daily News
posted 12 March 2006
* * *
* * *
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in
By Melissa V.
According to the
author, this society has historically exerted
considerable pressure on black females to fit into one
of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the
Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless
Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to
white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of
those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the
relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable
temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as
an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the
characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television
shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
points out how the propagation of these harmful myths
have served the mainstream culture well. For instance,
the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for
black females to feel a maternal instinct towards
As for the source
of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their
own bodies during slavery given that they were being
auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless,
it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate
the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate
* * *
Sex at the Margins
Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry
By Laura María Agustín
This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London
* * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
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Ancient African Nations
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