“Accidental Racist”

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            Recently country music superstar Brad Paisley released a brand new album known as Wheelhouse and one of the songs on the album has people in a major uproar. The song of controversy is titled “Accidental Racist” and it tells a story in which the main character—a white southerner—walks into a Starbucks coffee shop and has a moment of extreme clarity regarding the Confederate flag T-shirt he’s currently wearing. LL Cool J who is featured on the song is responsible for playing the barista role as well as being the de facto spirit guide within Brad Paisley’s moment of realization of what the Confederate flag on his shirt really stands for. The first verse that the southerner sings goes like this: “Just a proud rebel son with an ol’ can of worms. Lookin’ like I got a lot to learn.” Then LL Cool J’s character replies, “If you don’t judge my do-rag, I won’t judge your red flag. If you don’t judge my gold chains, I’ll forget the iron chains.” The problem with both of these verses though is that they are painting racism as dealing mostly with our wardrobe choices when it reality it’s a much deeper problem then that. The song had great intentions but I feel that this was a message song that accidentally contradicts itself. The southerner is expressing remorse for the things that the confederate south put the black population through in regards to slavery and other things. Meanwhile, LL Cool J’s character is just asking the southern man to put the shoe on the other foot and realize what it would be like to come across people who celebrated the confederacy as being a positive thing. Racism runs extremely deep in this country and I applaud this song for trying to talk about a topic that most people in this world are afraid to touch. Brad had actually said that this song as well as the album was not meant to be easy listening, he is actively trying to get his listeners to think about the state of our world today in the hopes that some people will want to change things for the better. He is aiming to create a new generation of southern people as well as convert the old south to be more tolerable of the great racial diversity we have in our country today. I actually feel that more artists in the music industry need to try and invoke thought from their listeners even if it is controversial thought as Brad and LL Cool J have done. Music is one of the most powerful mediums in the world and if more artists get behind such a movement we may be able to create positive change leading to a much more equal society. I respect Brad and LL Cool J for sticking behind their product even though it has had such a mixed reception. Personally, I am not offended of the song as I have heard it quite a few times and I think the message it is attempting to send is a more than worthy cause. All of this just goes to show the power of music and media on our social perspectives when it comes to racism and how to look at events from the past. It also shows that racism can be blatant and direct or indirect and innocent. I happen to feel that in this case the racism is indirect and innocent and that’s also why I think the title “Accidental Racist” is extremely perfect for this powerful song.

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4 thoughts on ““Accidental Racist”

  1. The title of the song does sound fitting. I read another analysis of the song that indicated it seemed to reinforce “enlightened” racism–racism as more or less a thing of the past that we should go beyond. I agree that it has at least led to some good conversations!

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  3. It means that rather than going off like a Roman candle, we think about the situation.

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