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Kanye West can’t sell ‘White Lives Matter’ shirts because two black men own the brand


Two black radio hosts in Arizona could pose a potential obstacle if Kanye West ever decides to sell his “White Lives Matter” t-shirts in the United States.

Ramses Ja and Quinton Ward, hosts of the weekly racial justice radio show Civic Cipher, became the legal owners of the phrase’s trademark for use on clothing late last month. The story was first reported by Capital B.

Taking ownership of the brand for the phrase ‘White Lives Matter’ was a difficult decision for the hosts, they said, but they agreed to do so ‘once it was clear someone would pull one off. big profit, because as you’ve seen, even though he (West) says really hurtful, divisive and sometimes crazy things, he has a bit of a bigotry and every time he releases something, it sells out,” Ward told CNN.

He said the phrase had more force than they had hoped and the best case scenario is that no one utters the term in the coming months.

Hosts see brand ownership as a “responsibility” of making sure it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.

They didn’t want anyone potentially profiting from the term that the Anti-Defamation League called a “hate slogan.” The phrase is used by white supremacist groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, and described as a racist response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

The trademark was first filed last month, according to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office data, the same day West wore a shirt with an image of Pope John Paul II on the front and the words “White Lives Matter” written on the back. . He wore the shirt to a surprise show at Paris Fashion Week.

The person who originally obtained the trademark transferred ownership to Ja and Ward’s company, Civic Cipher LLC, weeks later, according to data from the US Patent and Trademark Office. CNN has reached out to the original owner for comment.

Civic Cipher told CNN that the brand’s original owner was a listener to their show and wished to remain anonymous.

Ja told CNN that brand ownership means having the exclusive right to sell clothing with that term. When the listener found out the rapper-producer had “repopularized” the term, “I think that move was primarily to make sure others wouldn’t take advantage of it.”

Ja and Ward aren’t sure why the listener originally bought the rights to the phrase, but they believe that when the term went viral again, the listener “no longer felt like he was the right person to champion these efforts. “.

Over the years, West, who legally changed his name to Ye, made multiple inflammatory statements that angered many in the black community, including his insistence that slavery was a “choice” and that “racism is a dated concept”. And his recent anti-Semitic remarks prompted companies he was affiliated with to end their ties with him, ending his tenure on the Forbes billionaires list.

Civic Cipher is a national show that started in 2020 to create space for black and brown people to have courageous conversations.

The black community is “beyond rapping and singing” and the show goes beyond what a listener would typically hear on a hip-hop radio station, Ja told CNN.

“We deal with police violence, housing inequalities, environmental racism, we deal with maternal health outcomes – things that disproportionately affect black and brown communities.”

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