Yesterday, the Dixie Chicks announced that they have excised the “Dixie” from their band name, becoming simply The Chicks. They’ve followed the lead of their country-music compatriots Lady Antebellum, now known as Lady A. For both groups, the rechristening serves a symbolic purpose of disowning romanticized images of the slavery-era South before the Civil War. As Black Lives Matter protests spark a national reckoning, there’s been a growing reappraisal and outright rejection of racist public symbols—whether they be Confederate flags, statues of enslavers or Confederate generals, corporate brands and logos, or other items in the shared American lexicon.
In the case of Lady Antebellum, the band said it was “regretful and embarrassed” for not having previously considered what the word antebellum evokes: “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.” After the group changed its name to Lady A, the writer Jeremy Helligar wrote an opinion piece for Variety in which he called on the Dixie Chicks to follow suit. Helligar called the word Dixie “the epitome of white America,” observing, “For many Black people, it conjures a time and a place of bondage.” Although the decision to rebrand as The Chicks seems to have been in response to criticism by Helligar and others, the trio initially offered only a terse statement on its new website: “We want to meet this moment.”