A few weeks ago, as protests were happening around the world in support of Black Lives Matter after the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many more, Lady Antebellum announced that it was changing its band name to Lady A because they no longer wanted to contribute to the romanticisation of a period in time when Black people were enslaved in America. When I heard about this, I was actually like, OK, I’m down with this decision. I mean, I wish it didn’t take this long but at the same time, it’s progress. Spoke too soon.
Turns out there’s another artist called Lady A. Anita White has been performing as Lady A for decades and, sure, while she’s not as famous, that’s still the name she’s been using to identify her work, on posters and CDs and on social media, well before Lady Antebellum decided they wanted it. When Lady A found out that the band was coming for her name, she spoke out. And on June 15 they all had a conference call to try to sort things out:
Yesterday, however, it was revealed that Lady Antebellum is suing Lady A.
After talks between the two sides broke down, the band formerly known as Lady Antebellum has sued the blues singer Lady A https://t.co/XfBjKbY0us— Pitchfork (@pitchfork) July 8, 2020
Check that Pitchfork article if you want all the details and all of the band’s justifications for why they’re doing what they’re doing. But initially this was about a band wanting to stand against anti-Black racism and the gesture of changing their name is now accompanied by a lawsuit, with their considerable resources, against a Black woman with considerably less resources. Does that undermine their intention in the first place to change their name to try to fight anti-Black racism?
The band is making it sound like this is their only option. It’s a pretty f-cked up situation though if a successful white band that formerly used to go by a word that glorified white comfort during a time of Black slavery believes that their only option is to sue a Black woman, isn’t it?! Another option could be… you know…another name change? Instead of Lady A, why not, I dunno, Lady B? Or Lady C?
Rebrands happen all the time. And it’s not like they wouldn’t have access to the most successful marketers who could help with that. So a large part of this is entitlement. Lady Antebellum feels entitled to the name Lady A. And that entitlement, you might say, is white privilege. So it comes back to anti-Black racism, the band purporting to be against it and pledging to be part of the change – first and foremost to ensure that Black people aren’t being killed but also to eradicate all the ways in which white supremacy undermines equality and then to provide more opportunities so that Black people and Indigenous people, and all people of colour, aren’t just surviving but thriving. How is a lawsuit part of that change?!