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Friday, April 12, 2013

Brad Paisley and LL Cool J's "Accidental Racist"

I feel the need to throw in my two cents to the controversy surrounding Brad Paisley and LL Cool J's new song "Accidental Racist" where the two somewhat awkwardly discuss race relations, particularity the divide between North and South.  The song has taken quite a beating in a the media.  Large numbers of people have accused the song itself of being racist or ignorant.

The song is definitely worth a listen if you can find it anywhere.  I had the chance to listen to it last night on youtube, but it looks like it has been completely scrubbed from the internet.  Its definitely worth a listen.

To hear the harsh critizim of this song, simply good "Accidental Racist" and view the venom being spewed at Mr. Paisley and Mr. Cool J.

Here are the full lyrics.

To the man that waited on me at the Starbucks down on Main, I hope you understand
When I put on that t-shirt, the only thing I meant to say is I'm a Skynyrd fan
The red flag on my chest somehow is like the elephant in the corner of the south
And I just walked him right in the room
Just a proud rebel son with an 'ol can of worms
Lookin' like I got a lot to learn but from my point of view

I'm just a white man comin' to you from the southland
Tryin' to understand what it's like not to be
I'm proud of where I'm from but not everything we've done
And it ain't like you and me can re-write history
Our generation didn't start this nation
We're still pickin' up the pieces, walkin' on eggshells, fightin' over yesterday
And caught between southern pride and southern blame

They called it Reconstruction, fixed the buildings, dried some tears
We're still siftin' through the rubble after a hundred-fifty years
I try to put myself in your shoes and that's a good place to begin
But it ain't like I can walk a mile in someone else's skin

'Cause I'm a white man livin' in the southland
Just like you I'm more than what you see
I'm proud of where I'm from but not everything we've done
And it ain't like you and me can re-write history
Our generation didn't start this nation
And we're still paying for the mistakes
That a bunch of folks made long before we came
And caught between southern pride and southern blame

Dear Mr. White Man, I wish you understood
What the world is really like when you're livin' in the hood
Just because my pants are saggin' doesn't mean I'm up to no good
You should try to get to know me, I really wish you would
Now my chains are gold but I'm still misunderstood
I wasn't there when Sherman's March turned the south into firewood
I want you to get paid but be a slave I never could
Feel like a new fangled Django, dodgin' invisible white hoods
So when I see that white cowboy hat, I'm thinkin' it's not all good
I guess we're both guilty of judgin' the cover not the book
I'd love to buy you a beer, conversate and clear the air
But I see that red flag and I think you wish I wasn't here

I'm just a white man
(If you don't judge my do-rag)
Comin' to you from the southland
(I won't judge your red flag)
Tryin' to understand what it's like not to be
I'm proud of where I'm from
(If you don't judge my gold chains)
But not everything we've done
(I'll forget the iron chains)
It ain't like you and me can re-write history
(Can't re-write history baby)

Oh, Dixieland
(The relationship between the Mason-Dixon needs some fixin')
I hope you understand what this is all about
(Quite frankly I'm a black Yankee but I've been thinkin' about this lately)
I'm a son of the new south
(The past is the past, you feel me)
And I just want to make things right
(Let bygones be bygones)
Where all that's left is southern pride
(RIP Robert E. Lee but I've gotta thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me, know what I mean)
It's real, it's real
It's truth

Okay, First off all I think this song needs some defending, as I think some of the criticism come from a misunderstand on what Paisley is talking about.  He states he was wearing a confederate flag shirt, but he wasn't trying to make a make statement other then he liked Lynrd Skynrd.  I honestly think that people outside of the South don't view the confederate flag debate the same way that people in the South do.   Regardless of your opinion on the flag, the majority of Southern Whites do not see the confederate flag as a symbol of racist, they simply see it as a symbol of who they are and where they are from.  The confederate flag is everywhere here.  I'm not going to say that some people don't use the flag is used by some for racist purposes, but the majority see it as a rather innocuous symbol of the South.  You could definitely make an argument that this lacks a certain amount of sensitivity, but I assure you the majority of people displaying the flag are not as racist as you think.

I think the refrain is Paisley simply saying he loves the South, a sentiment I share.  He however feels judged by bad things that have happened in the past that he had nothing to do with.  We live in a country with a pretty wretched human rights record.  We actively dismantled the culture of the Native Americans, we forced africans into slavery, we took advantage of poor people of every color and forced children to work in factories because their fingers could fit in the machines.  It bothers me that people want to act like the South invented racism.  Human slavery is inexcusable, but look at the horrors that took place in world.  As Patterson Hood said, "Racism is a worldwide problem and has been since the beginning of time, but its always more convenient to say it with a southern accent."

Should we be ashamed to love the South?  No.  Does that makes slavery right in anyway.  No.  Slavery is horrible.

When things get a little more crazy is when LL Cool J pops into the song.  LL seems to be trying to find common ground where a black yankee and a white southerner can meet at.  The weird part is that LL's comparisons seem really disproportionate.

"If you don't judge me by my gold chains, I'll forget about the iron chains."-LL Cool J

That's really nice Mr. Cool J, but it kind of makes me cringe.  He is basically saying if you don't judge me by what I wear, I'll forget about slavery.

Seems like an uneven trade off.  I think that whites should not judge black people how they dress, I don't think we should ask them to disregard slavery in exchange for us ignoring how they dress.

I think what Paisley and Cool J set up to create was noble.  A country singer and a rapper talking about race.  I think the media is misunderstanding them a bit............but I admit, the song is a little crazy.

The Carpetbagger

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