In 2015, "White Lives Matter" gained traction as a deflective response to the Black Lives Matter movement. The phrase, used by white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, has become synonymous with racist rhetoric that aims to devalue and demean the murder and disenfranchisement of Black people in America.
Its usage is a call of hate rooted in anti-Blackness and racism, and can't be divorced from its original intention. However, those who seek to profit from "White Lives Matter" will be met with a cease-and-desist order from Ramses Ja and Quinton Ward, two Black radio hosts from Phoenix, Arizona, who legally own the trademark to "White Lives Matter".
An anonymous listener of their radio show Civic Cipher purchased the trademark and gifted it to Ra and Ward, knowing that the great responsibility of owning "White Lives Matter" could be entrusted with them.
In an interview with NPR, Ja and Ward shared what thoughts and feelings occurred to them after speaking to the anonymous benefactor. "This person listens to our show and says, 'You know, who would be a better decider for the future of this thing that is now owned by me? Would be these gentlemen'", Ja states.
The meaning and weight behind two Black men owning the rights to a form of hate speech is monumental and can possibly create a shift in how we reckon with "White Lives Matter." Although Ja and Ward had to come to terms with the power of this trademark, which officially became theirs on October 28th, they are more than willing to step to the occasion of bringing about change for the communities that "White Lives Matter" directly harm.
"We have no idea what comes next," said Ward, "but having our names and our faces tied to this now, the responsibility is on us for those outcomes to be positive and uplifting and for those headlines to be positive and uplifting, so the stories can stop being about divisiveness and hurt and pain and more about, you know, building and bridges and forgiveness and love and, you know, helping people that are traditionally underserved."