Just when I thought Flo Rida had the corny rap negro game on lock, LL Cool J came and snatched the crown back from Sir Forehead. Cool James and country star Brad Paisley released their single “Accidental Racist” on Monday and well, they tried. In the diddy, Paisley urged us to not judge him because of his confederate flag adorned Lynyrd Skynyrd shirt and waxed poetic about how he shouldn’t be judged for something that happened 150 years ago as if Jim Crow and institutionalized racism were not a thing. Ya know, your standard white guilt. In response, LL Cool J told Paisley and the other good white folk of the world to not judge him for his doo rag and because the chains he wears are now gold. It’s a hot stinkin’ mess and while it seems like they meant well, they missed the mark.
Here’s a snippet of the lyrics:
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
Sigh. The rest of Brad’s parts aren’t much better and pretty much say the same thing. From the looks of it, he’s one of those post-racial types that seem to be under the impression that racism isn’t a problem anymore since people aren’t being sprayed with hoses anymore or hanging from trees. People that subscribe to this way of thinking tend to ignore the fact that racism is an institution. It isn’t as simple as not liking another race or hating the sight of Brad’s beloved confederate rebel flag. Throughout the song Brad claims he wants to understand what it’s like to not be white and espouses standard white guilt speech but repeatedly reminds us that slavery is over or as he puts it “We’re still siftin’ through the rubble after a hundred-fifty years.” I guess he forgot about Jim Crow, huh? I wonder if Brad knows a white man with a record is more likely to get a job than a black person with a clean record? Has he been followed around by a paranoid store merchant. If he was a regular joe, I’m sure he wouldn’t have to worry about getting a job with a name like “Brad Paisley” or walking in to a job interview and witnessing the shocked look on interviewer’s face when they realize the person behind the Anglo name on their list is brown. He probably won’t have to deal with things like that because a little thing called white privilege prevents him from having to deal any of those problems. Acknowledging that privilege would be a great start instead of complaining about negroes not liking your Skynyrd shirt.
In addition to Paisley trying to sift through his white guilt, we have LL Cool J trying to strike a bargain with the poor conflicted white man:
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
Aside from the corny lyrics and use of “conversate”, I hate how LL is simplifying race relations and using tired stereotypes to make his point. Rather than really trying to get “Mr.Whiteman” to understand the error of his ways, Cool James wants to placate and pacify him. Instead of really giving the recipient of this letter a glimpse into the effects of racism on Black lives, he waxes poetic about gold chains and wanting wear a doo-rag. He mentions dodging white hoods but what about dodging the police’s billy club? Like Paisley, he harps on slavery being in the past as if we don’t have to deal with its descendants.
After this verse, this not-so dynamic duo does a weird call and response and one of the lines shows me that LL Cool J needs to be dragged to an African-American studies class or at least do a Google search. The line?
RIP Robert E. Lee but I’ve gotta thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me, know what I mean
Oh LL, we are not “free” and Abraham Lincoln didn’t give a damn about your black ass, my black ass or anyone else’s black ass. As a matter of fact, I’m just going to leave this here:
“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races – that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything.”
What do you think about “Accidental Racist”? Did you like it or dislike it? Leave a comment!