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Tuesday, April 25 / University Theatre

Slanted: How an Asian American Troublemaker Took on the Supreme Court

Lecture and Book Signing, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Reserve your FREE ticket


When Simon Tam started an Asian American dance rock band called The Slants, he didn't realize that he was starting an entire movement around freedom of expression and discussions on identity. The band flipped stereotypes with their bombastic live shows and community activism. But when Simon applied to register a trademark on the band's name, the government dragged him all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. This is the story of an indomitable spirit who so believes in the idea of justice that he's willing to risk everything along the way for the dignity of self-identity. Simon shares a deeply personal account that will take you from punk rock venues to the Supreme Court, all in the name of justice. This journey is shared through storytelling and songs, offering a raw look at our legal system with unflinching honesty and offers timely insights on freedom of speech, how to connect with others we disagree with, and the power of music.

Gripping, funny, enlightening, and ultimately uplifting, you'll walk away feeling inspired and find that no obstacle is too difficult to conquer --as long as you have a little heart and a lot of rock n' roll. It's an irrepressible story that is fresh, alive, and defines what it means to be American.


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CHASS Dean’s Speaker Series featuring Simon Tam


The CHASS Dean’s Speaker Series will feature prominent CHASS alumni, lectures and performances, and highlight some of the groundbreaking research our CHASS faculty and staff are undertaking to increase our understanding of the diverse cultures of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and how our disciplines equip us to confront anti-Asian bias.


Simon Tam is an author, musician, activist, and self-proclaimed troublemaker. He is best known as the founder and bassist of The Slants, the Asian American dance rock and anti-racist band that won a landmark case at the U.S Supreme Court in 2017 to help expand civil liberties for marginalized groups. Simon's 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. Today, he leads The Slants Foundation, a nonprofit organization that is pushing the boundaries of what is possible for arts, activism, and civic engagement.





The Slants biography

Portland's The Slants are the first and only all-Asian American dance rock band in the world. They offer up catchy dance beats, strong hooks, and a bombastic live show that is "not to be missed" (The Westword). The Willamette Week says "While the band may well be best experienced live, Slants releases always promise a few blistering, note-perfect singles." The music is the perfect combination of 80's driven synth pop with hard-hitting indie, floor-filling beats which fans affectionately dub as "Chinatown Dance Rock."

They've been featured with Conan O'Brien's Team Coco, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, SPIN, BBC, NPR, and over 2,000 radio stations, tv shows, magazines, and websites across 125 countries.

The band might be best known for their fight for free speech, which brought them before the Supreme Court of the United States.

Almost 30 international tours, including appearances in 46 of 50 U.S states, have led to headlining showcases at major festivals such as SXSW, MusicfestNW, San Diego Comic-Con, and Dragon Con. The band has also provided support for The Decemberists, Mindless Self Indulgence, Girl Talk, Apl.De.Ap (of Black Eyed Peas), Blindpilot and Shonen Knife. In 2011, The Slants worked with the Department of Defense for a series of shows at U.S and NATO bases in Eastern Europe, dubbed "Operation Gratitude." In 2017, The Slants joined President Barack Obama, George Takei, Jeremy Lin, and other celebrities for an anti-bullying campaign known as Act to Change.

Many of the band's music videos have gone viral, gaining tens of thousands of views within days. Two videos feature martial arts choreography by Sammo Hung (The Matrix, Ip Man, & Enter the Dragon) and feature international stars Daniel Wu and Shu Qi.

They've won "Album of the Year" and "Editor's Choice" from dozens of magazines, including Willamette Week, LA Weekly, Shojo Beat, Village Voice, City Beat, and Rockwired.

Whether rocking music halls, anime conventions, maximum-security prisons, colleges, or army bases, it's clear that The Slants' infectious brand of "so damn good" music will leave you wanting more" (MRU Magazine)





More about Simon Tam:

As the recipient of the Mark T. Banner award from the American Bar Association and the Hugh M Hefner First Amendment Award, Simon Tam may be best known for winning a landmark case at the Supreme Court of the United States in 2017. The case (Matal v. Tam) was named Milestone Case of the Year from Managing IP Magazine. His memoir, Slanted: How an Asian American Troublemaker Took on the Supreme Court was named "One of the Best Books on the Constitution of All Time" by BookAuthority and won an award for Best Autobiography/Memoir from the Independent Publisher Book Awards.

Simon’s work in arts and activism has been highlighted in thousands of media features across 129 countries, including: The New York Times, the Washington Post, Rolling Stone, NPR, and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He is the founder and bassist of The Slants, one of the first all-Asian American dance rock bands in the world. He is also a co-founder of The Slants Foundation, a nonprofit organization that is pushing the boundaries of what is possible for arts, activism, and civic engagement. Currently, he serves as Senior Director of Marketing & Communication at StriveTogether, a nonprofit that is building a world where a child’s potential isn’t dictated by race, ethnicity, zip code or circumstance.

He has appeared at thousands of events across four continents as a keynote speaker, including TEDx, SXSW, Comic-Con, and INTA. Each year Simon speaks to Fortune 500 companies, universities, and many of the world's top leaders in law, entertainment, and education. He holds a world record for TEDx stage appearances and coaches numerous TED presenters.

Simon regularly consults world leaders and major organizations on policies related to equity, diversity, and inclusion, including Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Verizon. In 2016, Simon joined President Barack Obama, George Takei, Jeremy Lin, and other celebrities in the #ActToChange campaign to fight bullying. Simon has also worked with other music icons such as Jay Z, Killer Mike, and Chance the Rapper on legislative efforts to protect artistic expression.

Simon believes that apathy is not compatible with love. His passion for ideas that combine arts and activism is evident in all of his work, from his music to his writing. He works to change the culture by transforming systems with an equity framework, all while holding down harmony and rhythm on the bass guitar.

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