Article for WAMU’s Bandwidth: The Slants

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I know I’m always hyping up my own work but this one is one of my faves! I interviewed Simon Tam of The Slants and how his band has become part of a larger legal battle on the constitutionality of a certain trademark law. Anyways, please read it! Read the full article here and read my fave quote from the interview:

Bandwidth: Why is it important to reclaim slurs for marginalized groups?

Simon Tam: It’s effective. It’s a way to create social change. Reappropriation is an extremely powerful experience, and there are a lot of psychological studies about this. Whenever a group reclaims a particular term, there’s a shift in power from the dominant group to the oppressed group.

I think it’s also important because we should control the terms and how we’re addressed. If we decide it’s an in-community term only, we should be able to decide those boundaries of who should and shouldn’t use language in reference to our particular groups. It’s also important because it creates this general sense of social consciousness about our issues.

The term “slant,” unlike most racial slurs that you hear, is a neutral word. It’s not a disparaging term on its own. It meant something for hundreds of years, and then some racist took it by using the term “slant eye.” I would argue that we have every right to go back to the original definition if we want. Racists don’t have a right to use the English language for their own purposes. We should be able to redefine the process and get rid of that history.

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