A Line-By-Line Analysis of Brad Paisley and LL Cool J’s “Accidental Racist”
[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4pJZrQiO3ls] Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball. Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus. Martin Luther King having a dream. Barack Obama winning the presidency. All of us are familiar with the work that trailblazers like these and so many others accomplished to move beyond our nation’s racial divisions. Now, I am proud to announce that we can inscribe two more names on to this prestigious list, for country singer Brad Paisley has teamed up with rap icon/NCIS: Los Angeles star LL Cool J to finally eradicate black-white tensions. If you were at all concerned that America in 2013 had still not achieved a truly post-racial society, then boy, do I have news for you! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “Accidental Racist.”
“To the man who waited on me at the Starbucks down on Main I hope you understand”
It appears that Brad Paisley knows of exactly one black person, and it is a minimum-wage earner at a coffee chain. And he has dedicated a song to this one black person. What could go wrong?
“When I put on that t-shirt the only thing I meant to say is I’m a Skynyrd fan”
So Paisley’s morning routine apparently includes donning a t-shirt of a band whose logo IS THE CONFEDERATE FLAG, wearing it to Starbucks, and then apologizing to his one black friend, the nice man who puts extra whip on his White Chocolate Mocha, for wearing said shirt? Kcool.
The red flag on my chest is somehow like the elephant in the corner of the South and I just walked him right in the room
I don’t get it! The red flag is somehow controversial to wear to Sbux?! But, but, but, it’s just about states’ rights and regional pride it’s not like it was the symbol of a government that viewed African-Americans as fundamentally inferior human-oh, oh it was, you say? Well, SHIT.
Just a proud rebel son with an old can of worms looking like I’ve got a lot to learn but from my point of view
PRO TIP: The centuries of institutionalized racism that slavery symbolized seem, like, so whatever if referred to as “an old can of worms!” Well played, bro. Now give that Starbucks man your point of view!
I’m just a white man coming to you from the Southland trying to understand what it’s like not to be
Please, Mr. Starbucks employee, it’s not easy being a humble white Southerner, and he’s trying SO HARD here. Go easy on him!
I’m proud of where I’m from but not everything we’ve done and it ain’t like you and me to rewrite history
It ain’t like you two to do that! It also ain’t like you two to be having this conversation, because you don’t know each other.
Our generation didn’t start this nation We’re still picking up the pieces walking over eggshells fighting over yesterday and caught between Southern pride and Southern blame
SECOND PRO TIP: If you ever want to sound like you have something profound to say about the evolution of race in the United States without actually saying literally anything about race, copy and paste this section and you’re good to go!
They called it Reconstruction fixed the buildings, dried some tears we’re still siftin’ through the rubble after 150 years
Thank you, Brad Paisley, for filling in the people in line at the Starbucks on what Reconstruction is. Get this man into American Studies!
I’ll try to put myself in your shoes And that’s a good place to begin It ain’t like I can walk a mile In someone else’s skin
Nope, you can’t do that. But actually knowing a member of the opposite race is pretty much the next best thing, so maybe give that a try?
Here we have the chorus again, as apparently the line at this Starbucks is not sufficiently backed up and needs to hear Paisley’s heartfelt and not-in-the-slightest-bit-patronizing monologue for a second time. BUT WAIT. Just as the coffee-seekers may be growing restless, who other than LL Cool J himself walks in to complete the bridge to racial harmony! LL, of course, promptly begins his rap, which totally fits with the instrumental country music in the background:
Dear Mr. White Man, I wish you understood what the world is really like when you’re living in the hood
Amazing! What are the odds that TWO successful musicians walk into the same Starbucks on Main at the same time, both of whom with hearts longing for racial reconciliation? These patrons are in for quite the show.
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
No, it doesn’t, but it does mean that you’re a 45 year-old millionaire who wears saggin’ jeans, so keep that in mind as you’re hoping for people to get to know you.
Now my chains are gold, but I’m still misunderstood I wasn’t there when Sherman’s March turned the south into firewood
Hey, this rhymes!
I want you to get paid, but be a slave I never could Feel like a new-fangled Django dogging invisible white hoods
Um, LL, I don’t know if you know this, but it is possible for Brad Paisley to receive a paycheck and for you to not be a slave AT THE SAME TIME. I know you’re busy being a new-fangled Django, what with starring on a show that primarily appeals to 59 year-old white couples and all, so I’ll just let that one sink in.
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
These two just met.
We then have a slightly modified version of the chorus once more, with both men joining in to officially reach a nirvana of racial coexistence. Here, LL in particular shines:
If you don’t judge my do-rag I won’t judge your red flag
A (say it with me now) 45 year-old black millionaire wearing a book cover on his head and a white guy sporting the universally recognized symbol of state-sponsored bigotry? Sounds like apples and oranges to me!
If you forget my gold chains I’ll forget the iron chains
Supporting my fashion choices in exchange for forgetting about those few hundreds of years when your ancestors owned my ancestors as property, what a deal!
Can’t rewrite history, baby The relationship between the Mason-Dixon needs some fixin’ Quite frankly, I’m a black Yankee, but I’ve been thinkin’ about this lately
The past is the past, you feel me Let bygones be bygones
THIRD PRO TIP: If you don’t want to refer to centuries of slavery as a “can or worms,” try calling it a “bygone!”
RIP Robert E. Lee, but I’ve gotta thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me, know what I mean?
We sure do, LL, we sure do. Well done with that shout-out to Robert E., I doubt even the most hardened racist in that Starbucks line still holds any malice in their heart toward you after that.
I never knew that it was possible to make the “not to be racist, but…” of songs, but Brad and LL have achieved just that. We as a nation owe them our eternal gratitude for solving racism once and for all, and the Starbucks Summit of 2013 will forever stand as a shining example of justice. Congratulations to both of them, and RIP bigotry!! And Robert E. Lee. Can’t forget about him.