Welcome to my state. We here in Alabama are gearing up for the historic inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, and we’re doing so with style.
Well… at least it was stylish sometime in the 1800s.
That’s right, my state is sending 50 women in traditional plantation-style frou-frou attire to represent us at the inauguration of the first African American president. (From a distance, they look like a large collection of brightly colored Easter eggs, don’t they?)
You just can’t help but be awed by the multiple ironies in the fact that one of the groups marching in the inaugural parade for the nation’s first African-American president is emblematic of the antebellum South.
The group’s selection was not an accident. Mobile’s Azalea Trail Maids were invited to the Jan. 20 ceremonies by Barack Obama’s inaugural committee, which the president-elect himself appointed.
– Alabama opinion columnist Frances Coleman
President-elect Obama’s inaugural committee may have invited the Trail Maids, but the Alabama NAACP is not pleased.
State NAACP President Edward Vaughn objects to having Mobile’s Azalea Trail Maids as Alabama’s only group in the upcoming presidential inaugural parade, saying they remind him of slavery days, a characterization that Trail Maids supporters decry.
Vaughn said he thinks that Alabama will be a “laughingstock” at the Jan. 20 inauguration. He made his comments in a front-page Montgomery Advertiser story published Thursday.
Vaughn suggested that the Trail Maids’ costumes, hoop dresses with matching bonnets and parasols, reflect the state’s slavery past and have no place at the inauguration of the first African-American president, Barack Obama.
Perhaps it should be noted that eight of the 50 young ladies are African American.
Honestly, while I don’t think this is necessarily “racist,” I find it to be in poor taste, but that might just be because I am occasionally politically correct to the point of excess and have a childish personal grudge against my own region. So what are your thoughts? Is this offensive or simply a fine example of Southern stupidity? Or is it good-natured but just straight up ridiculous? And even if harmless, is it really necessary? It’s getting under people’s skin, and I can’t help but think that there’s no good reason to offend people at the inauguration when we could just as easily avoid it. Personally I wouldn’t like it even if everyone found it to be completely benign. I still live down here, and I think this silliness is thoroughly embarrassing.
Does anyone wonder why I roll my eyes every time I hear “Sweet Home Alabama”?