Famed rapper LL Cool J collaborated with country singer Brad Paisley on his newly released song, “Accidental Racist.” The country singer created the song to deal with the issue of race and help the current generation to overcome the ills of the past. However, upon the songs release immediate backlash followed suit. Many argued that the duo’s attempt to address the issues of race and racism was a “bad idea,” and “misguided.” Others believe that the song is wrong for making light of slavery, Jim Crow laws and simply implying that race and racism are merely issues of the past.
Paisley, a country singer began the song by addressing a black man who was offended by the singer’s red flag (Confederate flag). “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 worm. 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.”
I think that both Paisley and LL Cool J are courageous. The discussion of race is one that oftentimes makes almost everyone uncomfortable. As such, the public reaction to the song was not aberrant given that most talks involving race and racism are notorious for generating the strongest and most negative emotions in people. Moreover, the sheer fact that neither artist is an “expert” on the subject matter further demonstrates the heart from which the song originated. Yet, despite their desire to see forgiveness, healing, love and atonement between blacks and white, many still insist that the song is merely a stunt, tactic or concoction to gain music sales.
However, after watching the interview about why the men created the song and what they hoped to gain as a result, I was even more enthused. Both Brad Paisley and LL Cool J appear to be truly genuine at heart. At least, this is what I believe based upon the spirit in which the song was written and produced. Then, upon hearing the song, coupled with the interview I was simply overjoyed. It was a sense of pride to see my generation actively engaged, taking control of our destiny and of those to follow. Moreover, even though the lyrics to this song may not have the depth to adequately address the issues that continue to plague blacks and whites today. I believe that the song does provide a sufficient platform for those who are interested in expanding the much needed dialogue over race relations in the 21st century conversation.
Neither, Paisley or LL Cool J is an academic, politician or a teacher. Therefore, I am not angry or put off by the fact that the song includes lyrics may be slightly misguided or misinformed. I am not disappointed that they may have omitted or confused some historical data facts. I am not dismayed by the song’s failure to mention the need for personal responsibility in dealing with the issue of race today.
Again, according to LL Cool J and Paisley, the song is about forgiveness and the need to heal the wounds of the past. The song was not intended to create conflict or controversy. I applaud the effort. Their intentions are good enough for me because I do not believe that the song is dismissive or disrespectful in anyway. This was their honest attempt to address the elephant in the room. Good Job! I am encouraged by their boldness and confidence to confront the giant of racism.
However, I will admit that the song should have dealt more with what we can do today to eradicate the ills of yesterday. The song say’s, “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.”
I too agree! No, we cannot rewrite history, nor do we need to be concerned with such. However, we must accept our role in the struggle for freedom and equality. As the descendants of those who first committed and received the atrocities that negatively affect us all today; we must not only talk about the ills of yesterday. Instead we must encourage personal responsibility and confront these issues.
People are not only reaping the “blame” for the wrongs of their ancestors, but they are reaping the benefits too. As such, both blacks and whites in any given generation have a duty to evaluate the past and present, so as to identify the necessary steps to keep our nation going forward together.
Paisley is correct when he stated that, “We’re still pickin’ up the pieces, walkin’ on eggshells, fightin’ over yesterday.” I believe that we are not only picking up the pieces of yesterday but we will never move forward in a more meaningful way if we choose to ignore opportunities such as this to deal with the “color-line” that still remains. Unfortunately, our country was built upon division that has produced as much harm as good. However, if this generation does not make a decision to change the way in which we all live together division will destroy this country.
Each and every person has a role to play in shaping the world in which we all must live. Thank you, Brad Paisley and LL Cool J for your genuine efforts and Godly deeds to make this world a better place.