The hubbub over the renaming of the Dixie Classic Fair — a Forsyth autumnal tradition for 135 years — hinges mostly on procedure.
It came up at a Winston-Salem City Council meeting in April, a request issued by speakers from the floor, which is not usually in itself a catalyst for direct government action.
The notion caught hold, though, and was quickly designated as a Thing to be Studied and Discussed. But as the Fair Planning Committee started booking community meetings last week, they heard from council that the name change had been upgraded to something that is Going to Happen, without the benefit of public discussion or vote.
It’s the way of our institutions to slow-walk social change — studies and committees are often where good intentions go to die — but in so many facets of modern American life, particularly in the South, we are in the process of rooting out indefensible positions, unworthy monuments and alternate versions of history.
Whatever the origins of the word Dixie — the Mason-Dixon Line, the Creole 10-spot, that stupid song — it must be acknowledged that in itself it has negative connotations for black people, brown people and others “not from around here.”
At the very least, it’s bad marketing, potentially alienating 40 percent of the city for one of its most beloved traditions, on property maintained and enjoyed by city money.
Surely, we can come up with a name that’s not so plantation-y. But before we do, everybody will get their chance to sound off — the next committee meeting is scheduled for May 7, 6 p.m. at the Fairgrounds. And then we’ll put the word “Dixie” in the same place we’ll stash that Confederate Monument: history’s footnotes.
Surely, we can come up with a name that’s not so plantation-y.
Understand that it’s inevitable.
One of the many, many online commenters pointed out that her mother was named Dixie, which she felt should vouch for the inoffensive nature of the word. We remind her that for a long time in this country, people used to be named “Dick.” But not anymore, because the word has come to mean something else.