Monday, January 12, 2009

Ugly Dresses or Racist Ugly Dresses?

In Alabama, a controversy has arisen over the participation of Mobile’s Azalea Trail Maids as the only representation for Alabama in the inaugural parade.

The Alabama NAACP President Edward Vaughn criticized the Trail Maids participation saying that the dresses reminded him of slavery. The implication of his remarks being that the mode of dress used with hoop skirts and colors usually found on cake icing dates back to the antebellum period of the south and invokes the ugly spectre of slavery.

We at BNN think the controversy poses an interesting question: what aspects of antebellum and southern culture no longer have a place in modern American culture. Here is a handy guide of cultural sensitivity.

The Confederate Flag

Verdict: Seriously not cool.

Although many claim that the flag stands for all of southern culture, there is no getting around the fact that it was the flag flown by a group of people who fought, in part, to protect the institution of slavery. The confederate flag should not be flown anywhere as it is a clear symbol of slavery and only racists or culturally insensitive buffoons would raise it proudly.
Seriously, South Carolina, you guys are jerks.

A Burning Cross

Verdict: Not cool.

Now a burning cross most likely reminds people of Mississippi Burning, a movie that taught us something about something, but I never really saw it so I don't really no what. The image is most associated with post slavery racism and regional terrorism by groups like the KKK. The burning cross evokes feelings of the "badges and incidents" of slavery. Thus it is a piece of Southern culture that should really get the ol' heave-ho.

White People
Verdict: Not cool but necessary.

Although white people in both the North and South played the dominant role in the grueling oppression that was slavery, getting rid of them would be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The whites are currently needed in American society as a bogeyman for all bad things and also a culture source of comparison for when something has become uncool.

The Back of the Bus
Verdict: Cool.

Forcing someone to sit in the back of the bus is not cool, unless the person is cool, then it is all right because that is where the cool kids are supposed to sit.

Drinking fountains

: Cool.

These two water fountains are for short people and tall people. Height discrimination is still cool. It is also still cool to make fun of fatties.

A Man on a horse with a bullwhip

Verdict: It depends.

If you are selling the whips for non-slave whipping purposes as part of a rich family history of selling high quality whips like this guy: Cool.

If you are yelling orders amidst a bunch of African-Americans: Not cool.


Walter Genius said...

Forgive my contrivances sir, but I must respectfully disagree with your posits on the refridgerability of certain objects described.

1. Confederate flag was an emblem of rebelliousness, if in doubt, watch the lensoscope "Dukes of Hazard". The flag is therefore permissible when not in the hands of racists (which therefore precludes it from South Carolina).

2. A burning cross is actually a useful heating device during the long Alabama winters. But a fireplace is preferable.

The rest I am in agreement.


Actone said...

A Eugenics test or any object associated with the Eugenics movement would also be an aspect of the antebellum south that would fall into the category of uncool. For more information about eugenics go to:

Any object that was featured on the Eugenics test could also be categorized as a signature of the antebellum south. Eugenics tests would feature pictures of an object that might be found in an upper-class households along with questions asking test takers to identify the object or parts of the object. Therefore, test-takers from low-income backgrounds often failed the tests and were met with dark fates.

-Adam Finelli

Walter Genius said...

Dear sir,
I must once more disavow your statement. Eugenics, or the study of the works of Eugene O'Neil (I am not sure about your definition - highly circumspect), is very frigid, if not somewhat torpid field of research. I suggest more ventures into this study is necessary.