Archive for the ‘Race and ethncity’ Category

The Slants, still at bat

October 22, 2013

From several sources recently, news of the battle by the band The Slants to register their name for trademark protection in the U.S. Here’s an NPR story, “Asian-American Band Fights To Trademark Name ‘The Slants’ “, and a brief thoughtful piece “The Slants v, the USPTO” by Mark Liberman on Language Log.

The Slants have been up against the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for some four years now (an earlier report appeared on this blog here). At issue is a U.S. statute that bars granting registration to a name that “consists of or comprises immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter”; USPTO objects to “Slants” on the ground that it is a disparaging term for people of Asian descent. The band has taken various legal tacks over the years; the current case (in a federal circuit court) relies on appealing to the First Amendment, arguing that the USPTO rulings deny the benefits of trademark on the basis of the content of the Slants’ speech.


August 15, 2013

The line-up of speakers in the upcoming season of the Celebrity Forum at Foothill College (in Los Altos Hills CA):

Every year, I note the makeup of the speaker list. Figures from politics, journalism, and technology, mostly. Typically, (only) one of them is a woman, and (only) one of them is black. In the array above, all are white, but there are four women in there — but only one (biographer, historian, and political commentator Doris Kearns Goodwin) stands alone. All the rest are in couples: husband and wife Mark Kelly and Gabrielle Giffords, father and daughter Jacques and Claudine Pépin, and Sixty Minutes correspondents Lara Logan and Bob Simon.


Swiss American

February 7, 2013

In the NYT Book Review on Sunday, a review (by Rebecca Stott) of Christoph Irmscher’s Louis Agassiz. Agassiz, a difficult character, was a distinguished scientist — and the first notable Swiss American (in the narrow sense) that I was aware of as a child. (My Swiss grandfather enthusiastically praised the achievements of Swiss Americans, and Agassiz was for him the beginning of Swiss American history.)


After the election

November 10, 2012

(Not explicitly about language.)

From Max Vasilatos yesterday, written on the occasion of the U.S. election returns earlier this week, a postcard with a sweet and sexy Howard Roffman photo, which I have amended with a headline and rainbow flag stickers in honor of the pro-gay-rights youth vote:

This followed on Kathryn Campbell-Kibler’s posting on Facebook about another of Obama’s constituencies:

Is it actually possible to get tired of saying “My president is Black”?
I know this is so 4 years/3 days ago,
but seriously, y’all, MY PRESIDENT IS BLACK.

Kcat is quoting from Young Jeezy’s rap anthem from the 2008 campaign, “My President”:



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