Brad Paisley & LL Cool J Should Not Be Punished For Trying To Bring People Together

An Obama supporter, no less.

An Obama supporter, no less.

A lot is being made of the new song made by Country star Brad Paisley and Rapper LL Cool J. The song, titled, “Accidental Racist,” is ironically being called racist by many. Paisley has already been on TV defending the song. Here is what was reported int The Hollywood Reporter:

The country star has just released a duet with rapper/actor LL Cool J, a slow crooning tune that laments how difficult it is to be a white man wearing a confederate flag on his shirt in the south. “To the man that waited on me at the Starbucks down on Main, I hope you understand,” the song begins, “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.”

From there, Paisley offers up half-apologies and mea culpas for the Civil War, slavery and the region’s history of institutional racism, intoning that he should not have to bear the consequences of the South’s brutal past.

“Dear Mr. White Man, I wish you understood,” he raps, “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.”

The song has caught flack from around the internet. Gawker called the song “horrible,” and shames Paisley for his complaints about reconstruction, writing, “”Gosh, Brad, I don’t think you’re the one paying for the ‘mistake’ of buying and selling human beings, really.” Meanwhile, The Hairpin calls it “a lyrical disgrace filled with awkward non-apologies and faux-pensiveness over the history of racism in the south.”

Frankly, the line I am most surprised by is the one from LL that says “If you don’t judge my gold chains, I’ll forgive the iron chains.” As if the two types of chains are remotely equal, instead of one being a choice and the other enslavement.

But with that said, I have to say I can’t be too hard on the guys. It is very clear that their intentions were nothing but good. And they took a chance probably knowing the risk. I applaud that. Did they miss the mark with some of what they said? Absolutely. Missed it by a wide mark. But it is so obvious the guys teamed up to try to bring people together.

I applaud them for that. I don’t like all this punishment they are getting from trying to get people to look beyond our covers.

Here is the song:

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7 thoughts on “Brad Paisley & LL Cool J Should Not Be Punished For Trying To Bring People Together

  1. “If you don’t judge my gold chains, I’ll forgive the iron chains.”

    I’m pretty sure that line wasn’t meant to equate the two as equal and equivalent, but rather to point out that if we stop judgement and discrimination it can help heal the wounds of the past, it can help people “forget” the pain of the chains of slavery if they feel they aren’t still fighting the same battles that were fought 10, 50, 100 years ago.

    It doesn’t mean erasing or forgetting history, it means it’s no longer such a personal pain that one feels. Irish were slaves, they were oppressed, they were treated as less than human for a very long time, but as Irish, we don’t remember these pains as personal and current in our lives. They are memories of the past, but not memories in the now.

    • Earnest Harris says:

      I agree that LL likely didn’t mean it the way it can come across. However, I’m also not sure that anyone today can “forgive” the iron chains of slavery. It is a very complicated history. Unfortunately, the past does still have an impact on the present for blacks because measurable discrimination does still exist. Skin color alone, for many, prompts a difference in what the Irish of today experience compared to blacks. I really do wish it was as easy as “forgiving” the past. But that will have to come from all sides. But as I said, getting beyond all the judgements, which was the intent of the song I think, is a good step.

      • No, that’s what I meant though, when that daily discrimination is over, *then* healing can start and the pain can become a thing of the past. I know it isn’t that way now, hence the line in the song. Or how I read it, anyway.

        That’s why I compared it to the treatment of the Irish. It’s *because* the Irish aren’t treated that way anymore that we can move on from the past. It’s because blacks still are that they can’t, so that was the point of the song, that people can’t move on when they’re still fighting the same battles that they’ve been fighting for over a hundred years.

        God, talk about a 100 years war… 😦

      • Earnest Harris says:

        Indeed you are correct. But this is why I applaud their effort though. We have to try. We have to at least talk about it. And they made an attempt. I appreciate that.

  2. Paisley wears a confederate flag and doesn’t realize the racist history and meaning behind that?
    And regarding consequences, Paisley hasn’t heard of the terms “Chickens comin’ home to roost’ and karma?

  3. I understand your point though, that at least they made an effort to breach the topic.

    • Earnest Harris says:

      Yeah, it was a tough one to comment on. They clearly screwed up in what they said. But on the whole I’m glad they tried.

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