2012 iHeartRadio Music Festival - Day 2 - Backstage

Brad Paisley accidentally wore a Confederate flag into a Starbucks and wrote this song

So country singer Brad Paisley and Sam Hanna from NCIS LA have joined up to put out a song decrying the state of race relations these days, putting most of it down to a misbegotten clinging to the past and misunderstanding of white and black today.

First, anybody besides me have the urge to laugh uncontrollably every time you hear the name “Brad Paisley”?

OK never mind. It’s not his fault. At least I hope not. And Sam Hanna is really rapper LL Cool J, who frankly oughta know better.

On the other hand, it’s quite a gutsy move for “a white man coming to you from the southland” to even speak about race like this. And on the other other hand, the song falls so far short of what I’m sure Brad and Cool hoped that it probably just gives the racists another white sheet to hide behind, because it doesn’t seem much more than another attempt to ease white guilt by saying “everybody does it.”

Brad’s been taking a lot of heat for it, of course, so I shudder to think what kind of heat he might be taking had the song actually been better. The song’s called “Accidental Racist,” and frankly, that’s just a stupid title for a song about a guy who wore a Confederate flag into a Starbucks and expected the barista not to think he was a fucking bigoted asshole.

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

Really, Brad? Y’know, Lynyrd Skynyrd once stopped using that damn flag to promote themselves because they were tired of being equated with racists. But the racists got pissed and wouldn’t come to their shows anymore, so they started using it again.

I think the only thing Brad meant to say is that it’s black folks’ fault if seeing the stars and bars upsets them.

confederateflag

And LL Cool J. He has a rap part in this song. He raps that he won’t judge Brad’s “red flag” if Brad won’t judge his “do rag.” Seriously? Is there any kind of correlation between a do rag and the battle flag of the Confederate States of America, which seceded from the United States of America so they could continue to enslave a particular group of people? I didn’t think so.

But that’s not the worst part of LL Cool J’s rap. The worst part is his saying that if Brad will forget about his “gold chains,” he’ll forget about the “iron chains.” Really? Really? How on earth can those two things be equivocal, except that they both involve something worn by an African American?

See, here’s the thing. Brad’s part of the song is kinda whining about how he keeps getting blamed for something done in the past by people who are now dead to other people who are now dead, and it has nothing to do with him.

‘Cause I’m just a white man
Living in the Southland
Just like you, I’m more than what you see
I’m proud of where I’m from
And not everything we’ve done
And it ain’t like you and me to rewrite history
Our generation didn’t start this nation
And we’re still paying for the mistakes
Than a bunch of folks made
Long before we came
Caught somewhere between southern pride
And southern blame

LL Cool J’s part is about how a lot of white people just look at black people and think they’re out to rape and murder them, which is pretty much true. But they both say we should all just sit down, have a beer and get over it.

Dear Mr. White Man, I wish you understood
What the world is really like when you’re living 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 dogging invisible white hoods
So when I see that white cowboy hat, I’m thinking it’s not all good
I guess we’re both guilty of judging 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

Now, there’s some good points there, don’t get me wrong. And it’s a start. It’s just a pretty damn weak start. Do rags don’t equal Confederate flags. Gold chains don’t equal iron chains. And no, Sherman’s march (which was not conducted by African Americans, please remember) does not equal hundreds of years of enforced slavery followed by Jim Crow and institutionalized racism that did not end with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It’s not so much the past racism that bugs people as the present racism. The white south does go to great lengths to pretend that “bygones are bygones” and we’re all starting off on a clean plate, but the truth is, we ain’t. Not by a long shot. So, Brad, while you ain’t proud of everything that was done in your name by your ancestors, you are still wearing the very symbol of the crap that was done in your name by your ancestors. Quit trying to pretend it’s just the innocent symbol of a southern rock band.

Cool, man, them saggy pants just look stupid. I don’t think you’re up to no good if you’re wearing em. I just think you’re an idiot. And it doesn’t matter what color is your skin. Do rags? Gold chains? Seriously? Did you have to search down that deep into stereotypes to find something to falsely compare with the pure hatred and disrespect for human beings represented by that flag?

No matter how hard you want to believe it, guys, this is not some post-racial world. It’s still pretty damn fucked up. It’s still racist and sexist and homophobic and don’t even get me started on the Christianists who think they’re persecuted.

And yeah, the south gets too much of the blame for racism. Every time something happens here, every time somebody uncovers a rural Georgia town of less than 1,500 people that still has segregated proms at its high school of 70 kids, the Yankee haters go berserk with the “too much bigotry in the south” bullshit. One guy said “You wouldn’t find this in New York City!” That’s true. But you also don’t find it in Atlanta. Or Birmingham. Or Charleston. Or Charlotte. Or Nashville. Or Louisville. Or Richmond, the former capital of the CSA. Maybe not even in Jackson, but I can’t say that for sure. And there are other forms of racism to be found in places like New York City.

I could pull up links to all kinds of godawful things that have happened in the north to prove my point. I did, once, years ago, when I got offended by a New York group that call itself “Southerners in Exile.” I basically called them cowards for running off to the Big Apple and hiding in that mass of humanity instead of staying down here and fighting. And turning a blind eye to the bigotry of the north.

But I won’t do that here. It’s off topic, and I’ve strayed too far from the topic already.

Brad, Cool, nice try. Next time, though, get real.

2 thoughts on “Brad Paisley accidentally wore a Confederate flag into a Starbucks and wrote this song

  1. Jeff

    So what you are saying is basically the very same argument of the pro gun lobby – “If what you do or say doesn’t fix the problem in it’s entirety, then doing nothing is the better option”. You are wrong Nunzia, and I think that you know that you are wrong but you wrote this piece to satisfy your majority fans who if they enjoy this claptrap are themselves bigots as they and you apparently think any white male south of the Mason-Dixon is a troglodyte. Too bad because its obvious youre not ignorant but you perpetuate it in stories such as this one.

    Reply
    1. Nunzia Rider Post author

      I have fans? Wow. I never knew. But really, Jeff, did you actually read what I wrote? Or did you just gloss over the part where I said it’s a gutsy move, there’s good points in the song, it’s a start and even there at the end, nice try? And then there’s that whole tangent I almost followed about how annoyed I am that damn Yankees are always feeling so superior to the south, as if we’re a monolithic tribe of, to use your word, troglodytes. You may or may not know this, but I am a southern girl through and through, and when I say some of my best friends are white southern men, it’s not a platitude. But I don’t boast that I’m “proud” to be a southerner anymore than I would boast that I’m proud to have black hair or brown eyes. And I especially don’t feel the need to wear the very symbol of one of the darkest eras of our history and pretend it’s just because I like Lynyrd Skynyrd, which, incidentally, I do, but I like ZZ Top better, and as far as I’m concerned, if an Allman brother really had to die, why did it have to be Duane? But I digress, again. I’m not saying do nothing if you can’t do it completely, and I think that’s obvious. Good lord, if that was our mantra, then you’re right. We have only to look at the gun lobby to see how that works. I am offering legitimate criticism of this particular gutsy move. And I’m saying that defending the stars and bars and using a list of false equivalencies just isn’t going to further the national conversation very much.

      Reply

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