'You can't be halfway woke': Singer Lady A calls out country group Lady A for performative allyship
The original Lady A is asking for real allyship.
The Seattle-based blues singer, whose real name is Anita White, has been vocal about her frustration that the country group formerly known as Lady Antebellum changed their name to the stage name she had been using for more than 20 years.
"It’s my brand," White told The Washington Post in an interview published Tuesday. "People know me by Lady A. I worked hard to get where I am. So, if you think that I’m going to allow you to come in and just disrespect Black, indigenous people of this land and people of color, I’m not going to do that. You don’t get to disrespect us that way."
USA TODAY has reached out to Anita White and representatives for the band for further comment.
On June 11, members of the band Lady A (Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood) renounced their name saying when they formed 14 years ago, they didn't consider the pre-Civil War "associations that weigh down this word," including ties to slavery.
A day later, White, who is Black, blasted the country group in an Instagram post, saying: "How can you say Black Lives Matter and put your knee on the neck of another Black artist? I'm not mad..I am however not giving up my name, my brand I worked hard for. #GodWillFightMyBattle #TheRealLadyA #LadyABluesSoulFunkGospelArtist #TheTruthIsLoud"
White has continued speaking out on how the band's name change has affected her own career ("I said, 'You’re going to bury me on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.' And that’s exactly what they’ve done"), calling out the hypocrisy of a white group changing their name in an effort to distance themselves from a name with ties to slavery, only to take over a name already used by a Black woman. The band last month hit White with a trademark lawsuit.
"You can't be halfway woke," White said. "If you’re going to be an ally, be an ally. Put action behind your words. They made this public statement, and so I think I need to hold their feet to the fire on this. Because shortening it to Lady A does not make it less racist."
'We feel like we have been awakened':Lady Antebellum changes name to Lady A
She added: "I’ve lived through racism. I still encounter racism to this day. I would rather they be honest. Come out and say 'Black lives really don’t matter to you,' and you can keep the name."
White maintains there's "no coexistence" between herself and the band, asking the country group to change its name entirely. Going forward, she wants the controversy to be an example of why white people need to "step up and start talking about race.
"They need to talk to little children about race, the way Black people get talked to about race," she said. "I believe the conversations and communication are important in order to combat any difficulty that you might run into it. But racism needs to be handled by white people and we need them to start being allies, which is why I have this passion around the fact that Lady Antebellum needs to completely change their name."
Contributing: Gary Dinges