Austin’s Whites Celebrate the Oppressive “Old South” — Unreflectively

Well, our supposedly “most liberal” city in the South, Austin, Texas, where I once lived for a couple of decades, has again shown its rather racist colors.

Tonight the Austin Symphony Orchestra celebrated its 100th anniversary, and much controversy has arisen over the “Remembering the Old South” theme of the symphony’s fundraiser, an old South ball.

“Show off your southern style as you stroll through the plantation gardens, shop in the gazebos and sip on a mint julep,” the league’s website [says]…. The description of the ball the following evening continued: “This will be an evening of Old South charm and grace, of friends and family, of Moonlight & Magnolias.”

Sylvia Benini, director of the Austin Center for Peace and Justice, pointed out that this theme should call up images of brutal slavery and other plantation oppression on this 150th anniversary of the Civil War. In addition:

Nelson Linder, president of the Austin chapter of the NAACP, pointed out that, this year, a number of events around the country celebrate the Old South. “The Old South was a nightmare,” Linder said. “It was full of racism.”

The symphony executive director, however, defended this dubious white-racially-framed effort:

“The whole deal about the Old South is that it is part of our history.” . . . Corroa … encouraged a dialogue with those who had found the Old South references problematic.

So, now only some Austinites are expected to find this Old South theme problematical, and other Austinites can still continue celebrating in a “fun” way the African American slavery that was extreme, bloody, and brutal– apparently with many not batting an eye?

Lisa Byrd, director of … Austin’s largest African American arts group, was not surprised ….”I personally find it par for the course. In Austin, where [white] people don’t acknowledge a black population and a functioning black culture, it would seem to be OK, wouldn’t it?”

Indeed, and not just in Austin. Once again, the “post-racial” theme so common these days is demonstrated clearly to be false. Notice how even in “liberal white” settings whites still easily defend celebrations of this country’s extreme racist eras, as if that bloody history does not matter now.

They are operating out of a liberal or “soft” version of the old white racist framing of this society, and with little concern for African Americans whose ancestors died young, were often raped, were worked to death, and lived lives under extreme totalitarian conditions.

What is your take on this, and the many other celebrations of the “Old South” we are going to soon see?