According to Wordnik.com, a racist is, “a person who believes a particular race is superior to others.”
The AP newswire is reporting, “Brad Paisley’s collaboration with LL Cool J on ‘Accidental Racist’ has accidentally kicked up some controversy.
The song about racial perception has drawn ire from both the country and urban music worlds after its wide release.”
I don’t understand how can there be controversy about racist undertones in a song containing the lyrics, “I try to put myself in your shoes and that’s a good place to begin” and “I guess we’re both guilty of judgin’ the cover not the book.”
Maybe the “offense” comes from reference to the rebel flag, even though the flag is presented as a symbol of racial tension and not as a means to further said tension. Maybe the offense is that when singing the song, LL Cool J calls Paisley “Mr. White Man” and it’s reminding some of how slaves were forced to call people Mr. So-and-so instead of the white man’s liberty of just saying, “Hello, John.”
As fellow opinion writer Nate Jones of popdust.com writes, “Brad Paisley is not a racist. He’s not an ‘accidental’ one (whatever that means) or even an on-purpose one. The man just wants peace and racial harmony, and he’s collaborated with LL Cool J on a new song, ‘Accidental Racist,’ to bring about the post-racial utopia he dreams of. And he’s achieved it, in a way-people of all races are joining hands and coming together as one to mock the song’s colossal wrongheadedness.”
I agree with Jones when he goes on to say “it’s not that ‘Accidental Racist’ is hateful. Far from it! Paisley and LL Cool J open their hearts towards their brother man, and sincerely try to understand where the other one is coming from: ‘I’m just a white man / Coming to you from the Southland / Trying to understand what it’s like not to be.'”
However, I think Jones got it wrong when he interpreted the message of the song as being, “if those people could just be less angry and forget about the racism, well then by golly, white southerners might stop being racist!”
Should people examine the full lyrics, which can be seen at lyricsmode.com, they will see that, as AP reports, “at its heart, the song is about how cultural symbols favored by whites and blacks – the fashion choice of wearing Confederate flags or baggy pants, for instance – come loaded with meaning.”
Yes, it is widely documented that white male Southerners have an extensive history of being racist. Some history books and uneducated people will tell you that’s why the Civil War was fought, even though it was about states’ rights, and not slavery, which became the big dividing line after the war was already in progress. Nevertheless, the fact that a man is white and from the South does not automatically determine that he is a racist, just as the fact that a black man is wearing a do-rag and baggy pants do not automatically make him a thug.