The hypersensitive and politically correct culture that is currently handicapping the nation has taken its next victim: country music group Lady Antebellum, which announced on Thursday that for the first time in the fourteen years they’ve been a band that the word “antebellum” might offend people. The term “antebellum” is typically used as a reference to the pre-Civil War American South, during which there was still slavery.
As a band, we have strived for our music to be a refuge…inclusive of all. We’ve watched and listened more than ever these last few weeks, and our hearts have been stirred with conviction, our eyes opened wide to the injustices, inequality and biases Black women and men have always faced and continue to face everyday. Now, blindspots we didn’t even know existed have been revealed.
After much personal reflection, band discussion, prayer and many honest conversations with some of our closest Black friends and colleagues, we have decided to drop the word “antebellum” from our name and move forward as Lady A, the nickname our fans gave us almost from the start.
Their use of the word “antebellum” had nothing to do with slavery, however. “We named our band after the southern ‘antebellum’ style home where we took our first photos,” the band explains on their website. “As musicians, it reminded us of all the music born in the south that influenced us…Southern Rock, Blues, R&B, Gospel and of course Country. But we are regretful and embarrassed to say that we did not take into account the associations that weigh down this word referring to the period of history before The Civil War, which includes slavery.”
Other things that happened prior to the civil war were the Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary War, the writing of our Consitution… basically the founding of our country, which I guess is forever tainted?
A Google search yields few if any mainstream criticisms of the band’s name over the years—the most significant criticism coming from a left-wing rag called Ms. Magazine in 2011. It’s actually quite difficult to find any mainstream outlet, even liberal ones like Rolling Stone, taking issue with the name over the past fourteen years.
“We understand that many of you may ask the question ‘Why have you not made this change until now?’ The answer is that we can make no excuse for our lateness to this realization,” the band explains.
I suspect the reason they’ve never thought to change it before is that they never associated the word with slavery, and it was never brought to their attention because literally no one of consequence cared or even believed that’s why the used the term in their band name.
The term “antebellum” seems to be used innocuously in reference to the pre-Civil War United States as a whole, or cultural things like architecture, cuisine, and others. Will “antebellum” be shunned as a term from now on or is America’s entire antebellum history so tainted that we can longer acknowledge it?
I suspect that Lady Antebellum’s name change was likely a preemptive move given the current climate and they chose to change the name on their own terms. In the grand scheme of things, their name change doesn’t matter much, but the implications of it are bigger than the band. Across America, we’re seeing statues and memorials taken down, name changes, and all sorts of whitewashing of America’s history. The question I have is “What’s next?”
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis