What do you think when you hear the word “dixie?” What associations come to mind? Do you find it derogatory? Is it racist? Or is it just a simple-minded reminiscence of a time long past never to return?
This has been an issue on the diversity committee this week. A diversity colleague likened the word “dixie” to the “n” word. Is that taking it too far?
Here’s the sitch: Last week at our Choral concert, a group of students performed the song “Sons of Dixie”
To prepare, students did research on the song and many local Civil War battles often overlooked in US History survey courses. In the song, there is a Confederate and a Northern side, and to the best of my knowledge, there is a call and response element to the song. The only black student in the class was singing on the Confederate side. Several parents and teachers felt the performance was racially insensitive. Right now we are trying to make the situation right. At first, I immediately thought, “of course we shouldn’t preform songs with such titles.” But now, my thoughts are less clear.
Of course, we care about the students the most. We want them to have a deeper understanding, and we don’t want to let the situation pass by without a “teachable moment.” But what should our reaction be?
Here are my questions.
Would the song ever be appropriate given context and background?
The nature of theater and performance is to be provocative, not safe. But how provocative? At what risk? At what cost?
Would it be appropriate to sing a song between gay lovers such as Rent’s “Take me or Leave me?” (How fun would that be to preform, BTW?)
Why has no one mentioned the gender issues with the title “Sons of Dixie?”
How have I never realized that the name “Dixie Chicks” is a double whammy?
Does “dixie” always have to be reminiscent of slavery, or can it mean something else?
What do you think?