The song “Accidental Racist” by LL Cool J and Brad Paisley has everyone talking but not in the way they had hoped. To borrow a quote from an article written by Aisha Harris for Slante, “…talking about race is not enough. We need to talk about it intelligently.” Paisley and LL’s desire to bring harmony between the races like the Stevie Wonder/Paul McCartney song may have done nothing more than pull the band-aid off a cut that just will not heal.
Like two parents, Brad Paisley and LL Cool J wanted to take two music genres—one with a majority of white listeners and the other black listeners—and bring them together like some after school special to show them the era of their ways. At the end as the credit rolls everyone is holding hands singing “We are the World” unfortunately life does not work like that. Will this hurt either of their careers? Doubtful. The timing of this release does not come at a time of heavy racial tension. If it was around the time of Trayvon Martin’s death or President Obama’s first run for president it would have been a different story.
Racism is not a secret. People like to believe because the calendar changes so do the hearts and minds of bigots—not so. Signs indicating white and colored rest rooms may no longer exist but an “invisible” line of separation does. All we have to do is look at television, movies, neighborhoods, schools, and unemployment lines. Racism goes beyond gold chains, saggy pants, confederate flags, and cowboy hats. The chains holding many African-Americans down are no longer the shackles upon our arms and legs but the ones around our minds. The saggy pants trend is one that originated out of the jail system where inmates are not allowed to use belts thus causing their pants to sag. Now we have hundreds of young black men thinking that a look born out of incarceration—when they enter the prisons their arms and legs are shackled—is cool and our young girls think this is attractive. How can you ask a race of people to look past an image that is synonymous with hate because it is a fashion statement to you? How can you say you will forget the iron chains when it is clear so many are still in bondage?
To do something by accident means it was not intentional; one was ignorant to the outcome their action would cause. To quote a famous saying “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” I say ignorance of racism is no excuse.
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