The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #60936   Message #976560
Posted By: wysiwyg
04-Jul-03 - 07:42 AM
Thread Name: Why is 'Dixie' considered racist?
Subject: RE: Why is 'Dixie' considered racist?
"In Dixie Land I'll take my stand" would be enough to send chills down my spine if I were an African American. "My stand" for or against what, exactly? The right to continue breeding and beating human beings so that they could provide free labor and be bought and sold?

"I wish I was in the land of cotton....." If I were an African American I would not like to see the land of cotton return, for as it was practiced, it was an economy based on limiting my recent ancestors to the role of slave stoop labor.

"Old times there are not forgotten..." Ah yes, the good old days, when black women's pregnancies were for the purpose of increasing saleable slave holdings and/or producing milk for white mothers' slave-owning children. Here's a little slice of how it must have felt to be forced into a position of having to suckle the new generation of the enemy, while your own child lay unfed and untended:

Singing to the white baby:
When you awake you shall have cake
And all the pretty little horses.
Blacks and Bays, Dapples and Grays
Coach, and a six a little horses.

So hushabye, don't you cry, go to sleepy little baby.

While thinking about her own child:
Way down yonda', down in the medder
There's a poor little lambie.
Bees an' flies peck his eyes
Lambie cryin' fo' his mammy.

Or maybe the good old days (the thing to take a stand over) are about the right to lynch innocent people, and rape children and women.

So.... the reaction of African American people to this song is, I think, "Are you CRAZY?????? Don't you know what that's ABOUT???? Or is this what you (white folk) are actually thinking about bringing back???" To them, it's all about death, and, potentially, theirs.

The old slave spirituals had a code language about escape and payback. Well, it's not looked at much, but the white music had its own codes too, and these still run just below the PC surace today.

What's racist about singing Dixie is that singing it or extolling the song seem, to one group of people, to laud a way of death... while, to another group of people, it may mean something else entirely. To one group, it's recent, dangerous, painful history that could come back at any moment. To another, all that is now invisible, and it's a romanticized fantasy with sweet historicity. The one group has more power than the other, which thus cannot prevail in its view, and has to put up with hearing it over and over and over again throughout a lifetime.

The issue typifies a badly stuck spot in US race relations that goes like this:
"Don't sing/say/do that, it offends me."
"I don't mean any offense."
"Still, it offends me, and cut it out."
"Why should I? (You can't make me.)"
"Don't you know what saying/singing/doing that really means? (I know I can't make you, but I'd like to, if I wouldn't get lynched for it.)"
"You can't control what I say/sing/do. I have a right to free speech. (Don't forget who has the power here, and look at all my white pals standing around-- you better not get uppity/violent with me!)"
"Your right to free speech is the kind of thing that has led, in the past, to my people having no rights at all! (I don't want to hurt you, I want you not to hurt ME.)"
"But that's not what I MEANT. (How come I gotta deal with that old biz, I thought we were past this by now.)"
"But that's how it IS. (How come I gotta deal with that old biz, if we're supposed to be past this by now.)"