Sunday, February 13, 2011

Why Is This Racist?

OK, my understanding of American culture must be grievously inadequate because for the past 15 minutes I've been trying hard to figure out why naming a music group Lady Antebellum is racist. I know the meaning of the word "antebellum" but why is the act of using it considered racist? Can anybody explain this? I agree that the kind of music this group plays can be offensive to many people's ears, but what's wrong with the name of the group?

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I guess people associate the antebellum period in the US with the pre-Civil war era in the south (slavery).

Here's a more elaborate answer:

http://www.racialicious.com/2010/01/14/lady-antebellum-and-the-glorification-of-the-pre-civil-war-south/

Stringer

Clarissa said...

I've read a few posts that tried to explain why this is racist but I just don't see how naming something in a certain way necessarily glorifies the thing it's named after. Take the group called American Heartbreak. Does anybody believe that this group promotes breaking Americans' hearts? And The Airborne Toxic Event, Controlled Bleeding, Pulled Apart by Horses, The Brian Jonestown Massacre? These are all names of music bands.

Anonymous said...

I'm not saying the intention of the band members was racist but I can can see how the name could be offensive to black people. Sort of like if I named my band Zyclon-B. I'd be naive if I didn't expect some disapproval from holocaust survivors and their families (and rightly so). Again, I'm not PC police and the law affords them the right to name themselves whatever they want but it's a name that offends a certain class of people.

Stringer

Clarissa said...

So if I talk about antebellum architecture, that might hurt people's feelings?

I'm not arguing, I'm just trying to figure this out and I'm grateful for your help!

Anonymous said...

I'll go back to my Zyclon-B example. I don't think anyone would protest if a scientist discussed the chemical proterties of this compound. However if I name my bank Zyclon-B and played heavy metal, I'm sure it'll raise a few eyebrows. It's all in the context!

Stringer

Clarissa said...

Yeah, that makes sense.

Blogging is great because whenever one has a question there are always many intelligent people to answer it.

Anonymous said...

Glad to have helped and thank you for your compliment. You have no idea how much your blog has illuminated me. Keep on trucking!

Stringer

Clarissa said...

To my eternal shame I had to look up "Keep on trucking" in an online dictionary. :-)

Leah Jane said...

It's also worth mentioning that in the U.S south, there's a long history of historical revisionism regarding the period during and before the Civil War, painting it as a idyllic time of prosperity, when black Americans "knew their place" and white families weren't torn apart by poverty and lost fortune; a bit of a precursor to the more modern American myth of the "family values" oriented time period the Cold War era allegedly was.
Naming your band that could be seen, in light of that, as a subtle dog-whistle to that type of historical revisionism, and the unfortunate implications which follow it.
Sometimes, band names with such implications are just an accident, I don't think any of the members of the metal band "Anthrax" knew that 9/11 et al was going to happen, but in this case, it is hard to argue that they didn't know that history behind it.

profacero said...

Well it seems there actually is a metal band by that name; it released an album in 2009. Yuck.

Clarissa said...

Yes, that's true! I just found it. And in Norway, which is my favorite country too.

Leah Jane said...

I'm actually not that surprised that there's a band by that name in Norway. The Scandinavian countries have a thriving black metal scene, and black metal is often heavily associated with Neo-Nazism and a particularly antisemitic type of Neopaganism.
Sigh.

Clarissa said...

There is a lot of really nasty racism and xenophobia going on right now in Scandinavian countries. Which is sad because they used to be so advanced in terms of human right. I'm just hoping it's a temporary backlash.

profacero said...

The Zyklon-B band I discovered is in Cincinatti, and claims to be a "non fascist chaos punk" band. So - 2 of them!!

Leah Jane said...

Between the sniper in Malmo, the burgeoning NeoNazi movement, and the election of several far-right anti-immigrant parties, my old dream of moving to Tromso, where my ancestors lived, is becoming less and less appealing. :(
I'm hoping that as the current population matures and takes over, the violent anti-immigration rhetoric will go away. But then again, there are a lot of young skinheads.

Clarissa said...

OK, this is uncanny but I also wanted to move to Tromso when I retire (many years from now.) I never had any ancestors there but I've spent I don't know how many time looking at pictures. It's the most beautiful place anybody can imagine.

NancyP said...

Oh swell. Another mark against my hometown Cincinnati Ohio.

Lynn said...

I am not sure about the name of the group but I can tell you that the female singer has body art on her right wrist - the number 14 and that is definitely racist! 14 stands for the number of words in the white pride creed.