Kanye West will not be able to make profit from his "White Lives Matter" shirts because the trademark is owned by two Black men.
In a recent interview with Capital B, Ramses Ja and Quinton Ward, hosts of "Civic Cipher," an Arizona-based radio show focused on racial justice, said that the person who originally acquired the trademark in 2020 had it so that it doesn't fall into the wrong hands. He offered to transfer the trademark to Ja and Ward in September. The duo officially gained possession on Friday (Oct. 28), giving them sole ownership over the phrase and the ability to sue anyone who uses it to make money.
“The way the law works is either you’re owning phrases, or it’s up for grabs for people to make money off them,” Ja said. “This person who first procured it didn’t really love owning it, because the purpose was not necessarily to get rich off of it. The purpose was to make sure that other people didn’t get rich off of that pain.”
The “White Lives Matter” phrase recently caused outrage when West unveiled a shirt with the slogan at his surprise Yeezy Season 9 fashion show during Paris Fashion Week. “White Lives Matter” is a phrase linked to many white supremacists organizations. Today, the Anti-Defamation League considers it as hate speech.
“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,” Ja told the publication. “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.”
Apparently West never reached out to the radio show hosts about the slogan. “It’s hurtful, but it’s not something that was unexpected because I know that Kanye has been moving in this direction for some time," Ja said. "I do my best to try to remember the Kanye that I knew in ’04 and ’05. The Kanye that said George Bush doesn’t care about Black people.”
Along with the controversial "White Lives Matter" shirts, West made false claims regarding the death of George Floyd during his interview on “Drink Champs.” He said that fentanyl contributed to the death of Floyd, although it was ruled as a homicide. The fashion designer also made a series of anti-Semitic comments, which resulted in businesses and corporations including Balenciaga, Gap, Vogue, Foot Locker, CAA, and more, cutting ties with him.