It seems that country singer Brad Paisley is having an identity crisis. See, he's from the South and he's proud of that, but one time a (presumably black, possibly invented for the purposes of storytelling) Starbucks employee was not a fan of his Confederate flag T-shirt. So he's written a song called "Accidental Racist," which just got posted on YouTube today. In it, Paisley says that his T-shirt just means that he's a Skynyrd fan and is proud to be from the South. (Maybe someone should tell him that Skynyrd doesn't want anything to do with that flag anymore.) But what's a Southern boy to do when people call him racist for that? Poor Brad. After all, he says, "I'm just a white man / Living in the South land." That's all. And, hey, "Our generation / Didn't build this nation" — so the past isn't his fault, for pete's sake.
As a counterpoint, LL Cool J comes on about halfway through the song to rap about growing up in the 'hood and to tell the people that his do-rag and sagging jeans don't mean that he's "up to no good." See it's just a matter of perception and perspective! Don't you feel so enriched by this conversation?
Look, it's probably good that Brad and LL are trying to unpack these complex issues, but this is maybe not the best medium? It's at least not exactly the most thoughtfully done thing. Sagging pants and do-rags have never, as far as I can remember, represented a fight to keep anyone enslaved. So the comparison between those fashion statements and the Confederate flag seems a little off. Maybe if Paisley had said, I dunno, a NASCAR shirt? That might make a little more sense. But, hey, give it a listen and judge for yourself. Is "Accidental Racist" a searching inquiry into the nature of identity politics? Or is it misguided folly? You must come down on one side of today's most important issue.
[via Steven Horowitz]