Political Band Name Changes: Lady A(ntebellum) & The Chicks

2020 alone has had the turbulence of the 60s, a pandemic like 1918-1920, and a depression like the 30s. What a package! In America, there’s a lot of discussion of the country’s racist history. No doubt does America have a racism problem.

I used to live in Florida and it was crazy how many Confederate flags I would see. Being from the north, I always knew it was wrong. That flag is a hate symbol, it’s not heritage. If you fly it, that means you’re a traitor who celebrates losers. One thing I didn’t realise though is that there are many statues and places named after Confederates. There’s a debate to be had on whether or not statues of problematic historical figures (not just Confederates) should be taken down.

One thing is for sure, the Confederate statues have to go and for for a few reasons. One of them of course is that since these statues are often on public property like parks and town squares, that means tax dollars go towards maintaining those statues. Everyone living in America pays taxes. How does it feel to be a black person knowing that your tax dollars go towards paying taxes to maintain statues of your oppressors? How does it feel to be a Native American whose tax dollars go towards maintaining Mount Rushmore (which was stolen land and the Black Hills are considered a sacred place to the Lakota Sioux) and statues all over the country of people who participated in the genocide of your people? It feels bad. You don’t have to be black or indigenous to know how it feels, it’s called having empathy and being able to do this little thing where you put yourself in another person’s shoes. An even stronger argument though for getting rid of the Confederate statues, and I have to credit Andrew Schulz for this one, is to get rid of them because the Confederates were traitors! They committed treason. We shouldn’t celebrate traitors.

What a lot of people in the Black Lives Matter movement are calling for is systemic change and improving material conditions for non-white and mixed Americans, who have been institutionally oppressed for centuries. Taking down statues and Confederate flags, great, that’s a good first step and symbolism is important, but a lot of liberals (what I mean by this is neoliberals/corporate Democrats) and centrists will just stop there and say the battle has been won. Americans still don’t have a living wage, universal healthcare, tuition free university, an end to the war on drugs, guaranteed paid sick leave and holidays, no guaranteed parental leave, among other things! Improving these things would uplift Americans of all backgrounds.

Stopping at statues and symbolism and virtue signalling by taking a knee in kente cloth is the same energy as people who say that gay people are equal now because they can get married. Marriage is only one of many battles in LGBT rights. What about bullying in schools/workplaces, discrimination, homelessness, violence and hate crimes, poverty, healthcare? I made a meme that criticises the abysmal response of the corporate Democrats. I don’t understand why people think things will be so much better under Biden. I guess you’re more optimistic than I am. I’m a doomer.

EaKij_jWkAExuLLEaKij_9WkAE19ruWakanda Forever Nancy Pelosi Sailor Moon meme

Of course, celebrities have been jumping on the woke bandwagon. When I was younger and way less cynical, I thought many of them were genuine and wanted the best for people. And as I grew up and realised what Hollywood is really like, I grew jaded. People in Hollywood are in a bubble and are out of touch. And it’s hella toxic! I highly doubt that any of these celebrities suddenly became woke overnight. The Black Lives Matter movement didn’t start this year. 2016 wasn’t when America started being racist. Trump didn’t start all the problems in America. America has had a racist culture and a racism problem for centuries. Things are still not equal. Why weren’t you outraged before? I guess because you had the privilege to not worry about it.

In the past month I’ve seen celebrities making cringeworthy self-flagellating videos about how they’ll “take responsibility” for everything from microaggressions to racism, lamenting about how ignorant it was for them as white actors to voice black or Asian characters, and bands changing their southern themed band names to “less offensive names”.

Looking at this from my perspective as a mixed woman I’m so confused and I’m cringing. I don’t feel helped by any of this. All I want is people to treat me fairly and equally. I don’t want constant apologies. It’s the same energy as how Cartman treated Token in recent seasons of South Park.

Take responsibility for your own actions, thoughts, and words. Don’t make Black Lives Matter about yourself. Elevate voices of non-white/mixed people. Voices and accents don’t have a race. Accents are about where you’re raised. The band names thing, well at the end of the day it’s the band’s decision to change their name, but it comes down to symbolism. The Dixie Chicks becoming The Chicks and Lady Antebellum shortening their name to Lady A won’t end systemic racism. It won’t make a meaningful difference in anyone’s life. People won’t stop being racist because of that.

It’s just a nickname for the Southern states. That’s it. There’s nothing inherently racist about the word “Dixie” and there are a few possible origins behind it. One possible origin is that these states are south of the Mason-Dixon line, surveyed by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon. Dix is the French word for ten and in Louisiana, a lot of people spoke French and tenners were called “dixies”. There’s a legend of a slaveowner on Manhattan Island whose last name was Dixie and his land was called Dixie’s Land, but there’s no proof of that story being true.

I don’t get why The Dixie Chicks became The Chicks. Their new name is generic and boring and doesn’t distinguish themselves. Why not The Southern Chicks, American Chicks, Country Chicks, or Texas Chicks? They claim that they wanted to change their name for years? Why now? Was racism not a problem years ago? There are many reasons to be proud of being from the south that aren’t racist. Why give into the stereotypes that anything southern is racist? Personally, I don’t think there’s anything stunning or brave about them changing their name. It’s all just ‘meh’. I don’t think they’re being inauthentic since they’ve always been outspoken about their political views.

They are a great example of how cancel culture exists. It doesn’t just come from the left, but also the right: McCarthyism? The Hollywood Blacklist of the 40s and 50s? Right wingers aren’t afraid to cancel celebrities who express views they don’t agree with. When they said this innocuous statement…

“Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.”

They were literally cancelled and blacklisted by their fans and mainstream media. Fellow country musicians didn’t speak up in support of them and that made them feel like they weren’t at home in country music. Keep in mind that the early 2000s were a conservative time in the US. You were expected to be patriotic. Criticising the president or saying things that pushed the envelope was a no-no.

As for Antebellum, the word itself means existing before a war, but mostly used for pre-Civil War America. So in this case I can see why maybe the name wasn’t the most tasteful and why The Band Formerly Known as Lady Antebellum shortened their name to Lady A.

At first, they got a lot of praise and were told they did the right thing by evolving. Then it backfired when Lady A(ntebellum) sued the other Lady A, a Seattle blues musician named Anita White, who has been using her stage name for 2 decades. Anita White came back and said she wants to sue the band for $10 million. Lady A(ntebellum) changed their name in support of Black Lives Matter… only to sue a black musician who has been going by Lady A for a long time. And insist that they have the right to use that name even though they weren’t the ones using it first.

Not a good look. This is how you lose in the court of public opinion. Any big guy who sues a little guy is going to look bad and look like a total “I’m gonna call your manager” Karen. For perspective, Lady A(ntebellum) have over 10 million fans on Facebook and 2.4 million followers on Twitter. Lady A (Anita White) has 3,900 fans on Facebook and 9,000 followers on Twitter. It’s “Love Me, I’m a Liberal” energy.

I can only presume that Anita White is an independent musician that doesn’t have Lady A(ntebellum) money so she couldn’t get the trademark and she probably didn’t expect Lady Antebellum to shorten their name. Lesson here: trademark that stage name/band name! Lady A(ntebellum) got there first with the trademark, but they just look like bullies for picking on an independent musician – Lady A, going as far as to sue her.

Lady A(ntebellum) really should have been doing their research when picking a new name. Always Google to see if anyone else is using your desired band/stage name and make sure it’s SEO friendly and get those domain names and social media handles so you can easily be found online. I really like Todd in the Shadows suggestion… Just go with Lady America! It’s a nice country band name and it’s a name that unifies and shows evolution.

And then they backtracked with this lovely statement:

When we learned that Ms. White had also been performing under the name Lady A, we had heartfelt discussions with her about how we can all come together and make something special and beautiful out of this moment. We never even entertained the idea that she shouldn’t also be able to use the name Lady A, and never will—today’s action doesn’t change that. Instead, we shared our stories, listened to each other, prayed and spent hours on the phone and text writing a song about this experience together. We felt we had been brought together for a reason and saw this as living out the calling that brought us to make this change in the first place.

Oh how nice of you to allow Lady A to use her name that she was using first! White privilege is co-opting someone else’s well established stage name, suing them, and being “gracious” enough to have a discussion, prayer session with, and graciously allow them to use their name that they’ve been using longer than you have.

Personally, I’ll take the singer Lady A’s funk music over Lady A’s country music. I decided to give her music a listen for research and to get to know the situations better and I can dig this. Maybe some good will come out of this for Lady A (the singer), now I’m aware of her music.

We all know who the real winner is here. The lawyers involved!

Shoutout to my friend Patrick for supporting the blog!

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