This blog is not intended to sway opinions or spark arguments. Instead, I believe it is vital to have open conversations about our thoughts on polarizing topics like this.
As an Ole Miss student, I witness firsthand the controversy around “Dixie”. For those that don’t know, the song originated in Minstrel Shows where white actors would put on blackface. While there are different opinions on its intended meaning, and some believe that it is a song written from the point of view of a black slave who has been sold to another plantation. The man longs for his old plantation where life was easier by saying, “I wish I was in Dixie’s Land”.
Either way you look at it, “Dixie” has racist undertones as it became a favorite of the Confederate states during the Civil War. Many historians have dubbed “Dixie” as the south’s unofficial anthem. In today’s time, the song is used by alt-right groups to call for a change back to the old ways of the south. Unfortunately, more moderate people listen to the song as well and fail to see its dark undertones.
From an objective standpoint, I think the song is amazing. I think the Ole Miss band does an especially good job of performing it. When all context is taken away it is one of my favorite songs to listen to.
You can’t deny the beauty and strength of that song. It was especially powerful when they played it on the field pregame, which they don’t do anymore.
However, as you can see above, the context of the song is just plain racist. And you can’t say it’s not racist because people literally use the song to promote a nostalgic feeling and longing for the antebellum south, which if I must remind you was EXTREMELY racist. Black people had no rights, they were enslaved, treated absolutely horrendously. Tell me how a song that calls for us to go back to those times isn’t racist. You can’t.
And trust me, I completely understand the whole “it’s our heritage and we must defend it” argument. I’m from Louisiana and go to school at Ole Miss. I’ve been a Rebel fan my whole life. I understand upholding certain southern traditions like good manners and respecting others. But how in the hell can you say that you must defend your heritage when part of it is enslaving other people? Call me crazy but that just doesn’t make sense.
Personally, I would like to hear the song played before games. When I tell you that nothing got the crowd fired up like when the band played Dixie, I mean it. It’s a great song when there is no context added to it. But does that mean it should be played? Absolutely not. There is just no way a University that is trying to forget about its troubled past and change the narrative surrounding it can allow that song to be played. Furthermore, I don’t understand how people can listen to that song before a game that more or less yearns for slavery to be brought back, and then go on to cheer for team that is in large majority Black. The irony is overwhelming.
Listen, as a white student at the University of Mississippi I understand and feel the call to defend the heritage of our school and ancestors. Ole Miss and the south in general catch a lot of unnecessary flack regarding modern day culture. And yes, I had ancestors who fought in the Civil War for the Confederacy. But that doesn’t mean I have to defend my heritage when it is objectively wrong. Sometimes there can be a grey area between what is acceptable and not, but slavery and racism are not one. Slavery and racism fall on the “unacceptable” side of a clearly distinguished line.
My last argument is a simple one. When we are young, we are taught not to judge a man unless you have walked a mile in his shoes. In this case, I ask those in favor of playing Dixie before football games to consider this: what if slavery had been the other way around? What if whites were persecuted for hundreds of years, and black people sang a song about the good ol’ days when that was acceptable? Would you want to hear that song?
Thank you and God Bless.