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Commentary: ‘Accidental Racist’ a painful, uncomfortable listen, childish take on important message

Courtesy of MCT

It took me three days to listen to the entire Brad Paisley, LL Cool J collaboration “Accidental Racist.” When I first heard the nearly six-minute song on Monday, I had to turn it off about halfway through. I tried again on Tuesday and did not even make it that far. Wednesday I buckled down and finally endured through the painful duet about racism that has received such harsh criticism this week.

The song was leaked on Monday, one day before the release of Paisley’s new album “Wheelhouse,” which includes the song, and it has drawn more attention than the album itself.

“Accidental Racist” is a story about a white man who walks into a Starbucks wearing a confederate flag shirt and is waited on by a black man. Paisley goes on to sing about how, despite the fact that he is wearing the flag of the pro-slavery Civil War army, he is not a racist.

“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.”

The song becomes even more uncomfortable when LL Cool J drops in a verse countering Paisley’s. 

“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.”

I appreciate the fact that Paisley and LL Cool J have put themselves out there in a sincere attempt to spread a positive message, but the execution was horrible. 

How is anyone supposed to take a song seriously when the lyrics include, “If you don’t judge my do-rag / I wont judge your red flag,” and “If you don’t judge my gold chains / I’ll forget the iron chains.”

The lyricism is on par with Rebecca Black’s “Friday.” Such a serious subject matter should not be subjected to such a childish song. The song’s good intentions are so clouded by the juvenile lyrics that most people cannot even appreciate what they are really trying to say: quit judging people. 

I recommend you listen to the song. Just once. Laugh. Then never listen to it again. But don’t lose sight of the message, it actually is important. 

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: April 11, 2013

The headline of this story original referred to the song “Accidental Racism.” In fact, the song is called “Accidental Racist.”

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