How an Asian American Troublemaker Took On the Supreme Court
Simon Tam is founder and bassist of The Slants, often credited as the world’s first and only all-Asian American dance rock band but he’s probably best known for winning a landmark civil rights case. The US Patent & Trademark office had originally barred the band from registering what it noted was a culturally disparaging name, citing the Lanham Act which prohibits any trademark that could “disparage…or bring… into contempt or disrepute any persons, living or dead.” The band insisted that in naming their group The Slants it was an act of reclaiming a slur, and took their lawsuit against the office’s ruling all the way to the Supreme Court.
Now debuting a new memoir titled Slanted: How an Asian American Troublemaker Took on the Supreme Court, he’ll speak with the audience in a discussion moderated by Cindy Han of the Chinese & American Friendship Association of Maine. The event will also feature music from The Slants, as well as two local high school performers to open the evening, Qifeng (Eric) Ruan and Boyu (Eason) Chen.
Simon Tam is an author, musician, activist, and self-proclaimed troublemaker. He approaches activism through the arts and encourages people to challenge their perceptions of how we connect with others we normally don’t get along with. In 2017, he unanimously won a landmark trademark case at the U.S Supreme Court helping to expand civil liberties and freedom of expression for marginalized groups. His work has been highlighted in over 3,000 media features across over 150 countries, including Rolling Stone, TIME, NPR, BBC and the New York Times.