AirTalk for April 10, 2013

Is the Brad Paisley/LL Cool J 'Accidental Racist' song, well, accidentally racist?

2012 iHeartRadio Music Festival - Day 2 - Backstage

Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Clear Channel

Actor/rapper LL Cool J (L) and recording artist Brad Paisley appear backstage during the 2012 iHeartRadio Music Festival.

Combining country music and hip hop in one song may be offensive all its own, but a new song that does just that is drawing criticism for a much deeper reason. The lyrics of "Accidental Racist," by country singer Brad Paisley and hip hop legend L.L. Cool J, are played as a conversation between a regular ol' white Southern white guy and regular ol' African American guy.

It drops conscious, yet prideful, references to the confederate flag, du-rags and saggy pants, along with Abe Lincoln, Robert E. Lee and slavery. Paisley explains why this song and why now: "I'm doing it because it just feels more relevant than it even did a few years ago. I think that we're going through an adolescence in America when it comes to race.... [The song] is two guys that believe in who they are and where they're from very honestly having a conversation and trying to reconcile." It's worth reading the lyrics yourself and perhaps having a listen.

                                          

Where do you stand on the intention and execution of this song? Is it inherently racist to portray a southern white man defending his association with the Confederate flag?  Are the sympathetic voices used by both characters a good way to get at the differing world views, or should the white character be presented negatively in the song?  If so, would the song be of any interest?

Guests:
Kelefa Sanneh, staff writer for The New Yorker

Mychal Denzel Smith, freelance writer for The Guardian


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