Wednesday, March 15, 2006

N---- Jeans? No way

When my phone rings before 10 a.m. and I see WBT on the caller ID, I know it can only be Keith Larson. This morning he wanted to talk about comedian/actor Damon Wayans desire to trademark the term "Nigga" for a new line of clothing. I figured Wayans was just joking until I began reading Internet articles about his effort. He's been in a 14-month battle to trademark the term and he's been turned down by the Trademark Office twice.

For an hour, this morning, Larson and I argued about why some young blacks use the n-word. Larson, I'm happy say, believes the term is bad, bad, bad. I don't use the word and don't let my friends call me the N-word. In fact, those of you who have followed my blog know someone used to post messages signed N-hater. I no longer allow those posts because I find the name offensive.

Still, I also recognize the difference between Damon Wayans using the n-word and a reader using the term to make people angry. As I explained to Keith this morning, there's also generational difference between the hip-hop generation and Baby Boomers when it comes to how openly we use the term. As I told Larson, although the hip-hop generation understands how the term was used to oppress blacks, we gave the term our own meaning.

But that's an old debate. I'm more curious to talk about the idea of trademarking the term. First, I don't think Wayans should be able to trademark "Nigga," but I do think he should he able to trademark "Nigga Jeans" or "Nigga Clothing." The word "nigga" is too much a part of our common vernacular to let one man own it.

The Trademark Office should allow Wayans to trademark the term as it applies to his specific company. And yes, if David Duke wants to trademark "KKK Hoodies," I'll support that too. Let consumers decide if selling clothes with a brand name so closely associated with hate is a bad idea.

Here's my question, regardless of your race, would you buy Nigga jeans and clothes? Would you date someone who wore the brand? Post your replies below. (As always ridiculously racist post will be deleted, so don't bother.)