Brad Paisley's "Accidental Racist": Why This Song Sucks
Monday, Brad Paisley, a white man, joined hands with LL Cool J, a black man, and attempted to end racism with a song called "Accidental Racist" (below), wherein Paisley addressed the debilitating dread of being an affluent white male in America and LL panthered around in the background, high-fiving Robert E. Lee and implying that gold necklaces aren't that dissimilar from slave chains.
A few years ago, I tried to sneak a very Please Have Sex With Me-y romantic-y playlist onto my wife's laptop. It had Ginuwine on it, it had Sade on it, it had Jon B on it, and more. I've no doubt that if I'd had completed the mission as I'd planned it, there'd be at least one more Serrano in the world. However, while lurking around in the dark, I tripped (over the devil's fingernails, I'm assuming) and dropped the laptop square the fuck on its edge. It exploded into a million tiny cockblocking parts.
This song is a lot like that: The intentions are altruistic enough, but the execution is devastating. To wit, a breakdown of the lyrics, along with commentary and pictures and GIFs and so on.
To the man that waited on at the Starbucks down on Main...
Well, so we're off to an auspicious start.
...I hope you understand when I put on that t-shirt the only thing I meant to say is I'm a Skynyrd fan.
...That fell apart pretty quickly.
The red flag on my chest somehow is like the elephant in the corner of the south.
Just a proud rebel son with an 'ol can of worms, lookin' like I got a lot to learn but from my point of view.
Okay, one verse in. Just to recap: You went to a coffee shop this morning. You were there wearing a t-shirt with an emblem on it that has, in no uncertain terms, been affixed to all sorts of human terribleness. The guy working there didn't say anything to you, and maybe he didn't even look at you weird, but maybe just in case on the teeny chance that he didn't fully understand your shirt and even though there's apparently nothing wrong at all and you definitely don't feel guilty about wearing it and running into a black person, but you, without any prompting, just want to clear up that you're not a racist. So basically everyone just shut the fuck up about the shirt you're wearing because you don't like to be made to feel uncomfortable about it by a guy that didn't say anything or do anything? Neat. Got it.
I'm just a white man comin' to you from the southland, tryin' to understand what it's like not to be.
NON-WHITE PEOPLE ARE DEEP SPACE ALIENS AND I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THEM WHY IS THEIR HAIR NOT BLONDE OR WHY IS IT CURLY WHAT HAPPENED TO THEIR EYES WHY ARE THEY BROWN WHAT'S THIS STRANGE LANGUAGE THEY SPEAK WHAT DO THEY EAT DO THEY DRINK WATER IF I FEED ONE AFTER MIDNIGHT WILL MORE NON-WHITES POP OUT OF THEIR BACKS???
I'm proud of where I'm from but not everything we've done.
Wait, you're not proud of everyth-- oh right. Slavery.
And it ain't like you and me can rewrite history.
"Dude, whatever, it's just an 18 inch swastika tattoo on my back. Who cares? Stop living in your rear view mirror."
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.
Dang. Walking on eggshells? Man, not having free reign on racial epithets sounds really inconvenient. Totes sucks nobody's allowed to have slaves anymore. Sorry.
They called it Reconstruction, fixed the buildings, dried some tears. We're still siftin' through the rubble after a 150 years. I try to put myself in your shoes and that's a good place to begin, but it ain't like I can walk a mile in someone else's skin.
"Like, I mean, I guess I empathize with you, but yo, that shit happened, like, 40,000 years ago. You gotta chill."
[LL Cool J]
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.
It's just... because if you... like, what's going here is that... okay, when you really think about it... but, I mean, when you consider... look, we have never had... you should just... [fart noise]
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.
That's where I draw the line.
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.
Cowboys hats: Not the same as Ku Klux Klan member's hood.
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.
If you don't judge my do-rag, I won't judge your red flag.
Not the same, LL.
If you don't judge my gold chains, I'll forget the iron chains.
NOT THE SAME, LL.
The relationship between the Mason-Dixon needs some fixin'.
There's a relationship between the Mason-Dixon that needs some whaaa?
[Paisley and (LL)]
I'm a son of the new south. (The past is the past, you feel me) And I just want to make things right. (Let bygones be bygones.) Where all that's left is southern pride.
R.I.P Robert E. Lee, but I've gotta thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me, know what I mean. It's real, it's real. It's truth.
So, per LL: Black people, it's time to forgive America for its greatest sin already, sheesh. And, per Paisley: Black people, it's time to forgive America for its greatest sin, sheesh.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.