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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 reveals.



Responses to Damon Wayans' Trademarking N-Word

By Ro Deezy & Dennis Leroy Moore

Ro's Report on Portland's "Nigga What" Event


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 too.

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

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 Dennis' 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 two...

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 Seattle. 

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.   

Spike Lee's 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 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

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Damon Wayons & his new company

By Rogers Cadenhead


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 reveals.

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 registration.

Wayans can appeal the rejection, but experts in trademark law differ on his chances for success.

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," Zadra-Symes said.

"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 world."

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 Office.

"They said it was disparaging," he said.

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 people.

"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 grandchildren."

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.

Source: Wired.Com

See also Stanley Crouch's Response: New York Daily News

posted 12 March 2006

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

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.     

Professor Perry 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 Caucasian babies.

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 indiscriminately.

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Sex at the Margins

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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

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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