Tag Archives: racism

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.

Race to nowhere

Before I get to the New World Order post — and I will, I promise — I’d like to take a few moments to talk about race. And class, but we’ll get to that later.

This country has never had a national conversation about race, although we’ve certainly pretended to. Conservatives, when they’re not forwarding racist e-mails to each other, like to claim that the election of Barack Obama as president heralded a new, “post-racial” America.

That’s quite typical of Americans, actually — to pretend those things that are unpleasant or make us uncomfortable simply don’t exist. Like when we say we “don’t believe in” homosexuality or abortion or evolution, as if those things are Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy or the death penalty or a teabagger who actually knows what’s in the Constitution.

Or when we say we’ve reached a post-racial society, as if no one ever, ever looks at Barack Obama and thinks, “fucking Marxist nigger.” Or says them out loud.

Now, of course, plenty of conservatives never think those words, let alone utter them. And most of those genuinely believe they are not racist. They sincerely believe that their opposition to Obama stems from his socialist policies, even though, of course, real socialists laugh hysterically at that suggestion.

And, maybe, there are a few for whom that’s true, although I kinda doubt that number is much larger than what I can count on my own personal phalanges. But the rest think they’re safe from the racist sobriquet because they don’t wear pointy hats and white sheets or use racist language.

But they are. Every bit as much as the KKKers and the white supremacists. Oh, maybe they’re not as ugly about it. But on the other hand, to completely mangle something Gen. George S. Patton once said, I’d rather be lynched by a white sheeted Klansman than shot in the back by a lying teabagger.

Bottom line, I’m still dead, but at least I’d see it coming.

Of course, I’m not delusional. The teabaggers protest too much to be innocent of the racist charge. Somebody calls me racist, I roll my eyes and say, “Yeah, aren’t we all? At least I know it.”

But these conservatives (and a few others) — these people who believe with every fiber of their being that they’ve moved beyond racism because they don’t own slaves — they are just as racist as if they do.

I know this to be true. I know it because i have lived among them. They are my family. They’re probably yours, too — the people we tip-toe around, never talking about real issues to avoid having to have that discussion.

The one about race. My dad — conservative, yes — spent hours hanging out with his friends on the front bench at the garage where he worked. One of them as a black man. And yet, my dad, who doesn’t believe he’s racist, told me he just didn’t want to see a black man be president.

My sister — a liberal, mind you — bought the Obama-is-a-Muslim lies, said she couldn’t vote for him because of that. She doesn’t believe she’s racist either.

But they are. They just don’t understand why black folk can’t get over that whole slavery thihg. They don’t understand why they have to suffer for what people long dead did — yeah, they see it as suffering to have to accept that this country deliberately set out a group of people to be less than human. They do not see that lthough slavery ended in this country 145 years ago (and seriously, that’s not very long ago, but that some people seem to think it is speaks to their self-centeredness, now doesn’t it?), the effects of that inhumane treatment will last much, much longer than that — particularly since their political, social and personal ancestors perpetuated the attitude of slavery long after the slaves were freed.

Right up to now, because we won’t have that conversation. Because we won’t acknowledge the racism that lives in each and every one of us because of where we come from. Those of us who do take that courageous step take the first step toward a true “post-racial” society. Those who don’t keep us spirally in bigotry’s death grip.

The other isms and phobias fall in here too — sexism, certainly. And while America has a 500 years history of racism, it has an equally long history of misogyny that its founders carried with them across the Atlantic from a history of far longer than that. Homophobia — we count that separately, but actually, it’s sexism too. A gay man, to these bigots, is no better than a woman. A lesbian, well, when we’re actually acknowledged as existing, we just haven’t had a good fuck yet. Pure sexism.

Man-woman. That conflict is a really long one, so long that I’d be tempted to say its inherent in our psyches, and in a sense it is. The good news is we can actively work against it, just like we can racism. The problem is that most of us don’t, and won’t. Hard to, if you don’t acknowledge the problem.

But there’s one ism that actually is acknowledged, every single day. That’s classism. The haves, the have-nots. Or maybe it’s the gotta-have-its and the hell-no-you-can’t-have-its, at least how it plays out here in the 21st century. Either way, it’s an old conflict too.

The conservatives readily acknowledge this one, and willfully refuse to do a damn thing about it. Why? Because they not only believe they are superior — as they do about minorities and women and gay men and lesbians — but here is why they are superior. Because they have, and you do not. They have, and they devote their entire beings to keeping what they have and adding on. He who dies with the most toys wins. Really? What do you do with those toys after you die? As far as I’m concerned, he who dies with the most toys still dies.

Science fiction has a subset of fiction about the human drive for immortality. Invariably, those who seek it hardest are the very, very rich. But that’s an awfully sad existence, dontcha think? To live forever, just so you can collect more things, more money?

The chances of we humans locking up immortality anytimes soon are somewhere between slim and none, of course. But the haves still spend their time devising ways to get more, paying off elected officials so they never have to give any of it away to those undesirables — the poor, the minorities, the queers, the women. They believe they owe no one. That the rest of us have built this society and help sustain it so they can abuse it means nothing to them. Listen to Rush Limbaugh for a while and you’ll hear it, plain and simple. Or any libertarian — basically a Republican who doesn’t have to guts to say what he really thinks.

These folks want to kill government completely so they can pursue wealth uninhibited, and without having to deal with those pesky others.

This is, ultimately, a self-defeating strategy, and one that pretty much killed itself in the late around the turn of the last century. Short memories, these folks.

But kill itself it will, and it’ll keep coming back and doing it again, over and over, until we stop and really deal with the problem.

Just like race. It will never go away. Humanity is made up a many different races, each one brilliantly different, and yet all with a shared humanity that should be bringing us together instead of tearing us apart.

Unless we talk about it, acknowledge the fears and anxieties, we’ll all still be a bunch of racist pricks. But when we do start talking about it, start seeing each other as mere humans rather than the devil’s spawn, start embracing diversity instead of fearing it will destroy our culture — I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty glad the parts of other cultures that embraced, say, human sacrifice, didn’t make the cut — when we can do that, then we might just start to understand what it means to be uniquely ourselves.

Otherwise, we’re just a bunch of primitives hiding in our caves from the weather — and everything else we refuse to understand.

RuPaul is a better man than Rand Paul

If you follow my Recommended Reading lists, which I think has morphed into @NunziaReads or something, you may have noticed I’ve been just a tad obsessed with Rand Paul lately. Rand is the curly haired, opthamologist son of physician and Congressman Ron Paul who just won the Republican nomination for a senate seat in Kentucky.

It’s kind of significant because Rand is a Tea Party darling, apparently because they don’t know he’s a libertarian who opposes the Patriot Act, although his immature, sophomoric, libertarian beliefs about the role of government in policing discrimination may completely make up for that little slip. But Rand slamdunked Trey Grayson in the GOP primary — and Grayson was backed by Kentucky’s other senator, Minority Leader Mitch “How Many Chins Do I Have” McConnell and Darth Cheney. Ouch. That musta hurt.

See, Ron Paul, when he was running for president in 2008, kinda had the inside track on nuttiness and the kind of grassroots nutty support that Dick Armey and FreedomWorks can only dream about. After America elected a black guy president, though, the tax cuts for the rich crowd tried to co-opt the Paul gang and really only succeeded in pissing off the Paulites.

Until Rand decided to run for Senate. Rand focused his entire campaign on the Teabaggers (and the Paulites) and somehow managed to convince both crowds that they were all the same.

But then, after he won, he decided to talk about what being a libertarican actually means. And it means — opposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Now, those of us who pay attention already knew that. So right after the election, when poor old Rand decided to go on the most political television show he could think of, naturally, the host of that show – Rachel Maddow — asked him about it. It did not go well for the eye doctor.

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That was on Wednesday. By Thursday, poor little Rand was having to run all over the place swearing up and down he hated racism and would, in fact, have voted for the Civil Rights Act, proving, among other things, that Rand Paul is a lying sack of shit who’ll say whatever he has to say just like all the other politicians so arrogant that they think they know more than anybody else and will be able to save the country, which, of course, is pretty much all politicians.

It also turns out that big bad Rachel scared the bejesus outta poor little Rand, so much so that he says it was a mistake to go on her show and he won’t be doing it again anytime soon. And, since he knows his followers likely didn’t see his piss-poor performance on Maddow, he lied about it.

It was a poor political decision and probably won’t be happening anytime in the near future. Because, yeah, they can play things and want to say, ‘Oh you believed in beating up people that were trying to sit in restaurants in the 1960s.’ And that is such a ridiculous notion and something that no rational person is in favor of. [But] she went on and on about that.

Actually, she didn’t. But now a whole bunch of Teabaggers believe that she did, just because their precious little Rand said so. But hell, he had to say something. Even Jim Demented was concerned with Rand’s “this is the hard part about believing in freedom” bullshit about the Civil Rights Act.

See, Rand thinks business is king. And business should be allowed to do whatever it wants. Refuse to serve you because you’re black? Absolutely. Dump raw sewage into the water supply? Of course. Not even think about safety for employees or customers? Certainly. Regulations, schmegulations. Do away with ‘em all.

Here’s how Chris Bowers sees it over at Open Left:

There has been a lot of talk about Rand Paul’s view on the Civil Right’s act today. But, in addition to race, as long as the company in question does not receive any public funds, here are some more reasons that Rand Paul–and his supporters–thinks it should be legal for the owner of a private company to fire you:

  • Not being the same religion as the boss
  • Not having sex with the boss
  • Having children, or not having them
  • Not liking the same sports teams as the boss
  • Not voting for different political candidates than the boss
  • Not eating the same food than the boss
  • Not liking different colors than the boss.

Basically, any reason at all.

Furthermore, another key point is that Paul’s supporters seem to think the problem is not that Paul holds these views, but that he expressed them in public.

Gee, he’d fit right in in Beijing, doncha think? Or the 1800s, those dismal days when business owners owned their employees too. No protections. Long hours, shitty pay. Benefits? No. But that’s the world Rand Paul wants.

And even if Rand Paul isn’t the racist idiot he sounds like — and is just a garden variety idiot — then his rhetoric sure does appeal to the real racist idiots (although, of course, the ones who run the Republican party know better than to say it out loud).

Which seems to have been a huge part of the problem with little Rand. Seems his supporters just thought he shoulda kept his mouth shut and not tell anybody what he really thinks. Here’s Doug Mataconis of Outside the Beltway:

I think the decisions are wrong, but they are the law of the land. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is not going to be repealed, and it serves no purpose for Paul to let himself be dragged into a debate about it.

Which is the main reason I cringed when I watched this unfold last night. It’s fine for libertarian bloggers to debate this issue among themselves, but a politician can’t allow himself to be trapped into a debate where he ends up defending segregated lunch counters in an election in the South.

Yeah, that would really suck. To have to defend segregated lunch counters because you fucking believe it’s OK to have them.

I wonder what little Rand thinks about this. In Alabama somewhere (of course), a teacher is on the verge of being fired. Frankly, I don’t quite understand why the motherfucker hasn’t been fired already, but then, it is Alabama, and all the little Paulites and Palinites there probably think it would be wrong to fire someone just because he explained to his geometry students how to set up an assassination shot for President Barack Obama in his classroom. Joseph Brown, a senior in the unnamed Corner High teacher’s class:

He was talking about angles and said, ‘If you’re in this building, you would need to take this angle to shoot the president.’

Isn’t that special. But if you should be able to bar black folks from sitting down at a table in your restaurant, it seems only natural that it’d be OK to use assassinating the president as a way to explain geometry to high school students.

Right, Rand?

Freedom. In Rand Paul’s world, that’s just another word for fuck you.