The country group formerly known as Lady Antebellum is either making a marginal attempt at charity or a full-blown move towards belated damage control. Either way, it would all be super laughable if it wasn’t so fucking infuriating.
On Friday afternoon, the group announced a newly formed LadyAID Scholarship Fund. While the base initiative was formed eight years ago, this year they are dedicating a special fund to Historically Black Colleges and Universities “in hopes of helping relieve the financial barriers to higher education & empower Black communities around the country.” It sounds rather commendable, but the gesture is unfortunately overshadowed by their own unmitigated audacity.
It was only five months ago when we were talking about the lawsuit that the band filed against a Black jazz singer, whose real name is Anita White and has been performing under the Lady A moniker for over 20 years. After deciding to abbreviate the controversial “Antbellum” in their longtime go-by and attempting to convince her to forfeit her name without offering suitable compensation—which the singer says she’ll need to cover the cost and consequences of totally rebranding, the Grammy-winning trio filed a legal request to use the name despite the clear brand confusion, claiming that they’ve always harbored the name Lady A, even if they never produced any content under the shorthand or even acknowledged it publicly. The issue has yet to be resolved and the blues singer recently thanked The Daily Show on her Twitter account for lambasting the conflict.
There’s no way of knowing the band’s true intentions behind the creation of this scholarship. We can absolutely make a guess and assume that this is a transparent attempt to curry favor with the very community they slighted the moment they tried to wield their excessive privilege in order to steal a Black woman’s literal name (that is, after taking on a name that signaled the days of slavery in the first place), but that’s still technically conjecture. What we will say is that it’s going to take a lot more than a bullshit fund to make amends for the actual harm Lady Antagonist has caused not only to the original Lady A, but to the community that had to watch a group prioritize their power and privilege during a time of actual civil unrest, when Black people around the globe where protesting daily in a fight for their actual lives. Unless the country stars plan on making real amends with White and taking concentrated steps towards restorative justice, this is another insult to toss on top of the pile of gross missteps they’ve incurred since July.
But hey, if you’re a Black student who doesn’t mind accepting their money (and you shouldn’t, because they have a lot of it!), then you can visit the LadyAID website for more information.