This Monday, Brad Paisley dropped some knowledge on racism. Paisley got together with LL Cool J to re-create the classic Gob-Franklin ballad from Arrested Development — and help bring America closer together. And they have achieved exactly that. Black, white, brown or purple, I think we can all agree on one thing: This is the worst song ever recorded.
They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Paisley left behind a great deal of pavement. In “Accidental Racist,” here’s what Brad and LL taught us.
1. “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.”
Lesson: Symbols have no other meaning than what they were intended to. It’s why wearing a swastika is a socially acceptable symbol of hard work and absolutely nothing else.
2. “The red flag on my chest somehow is like the elephant in the corner of the south/And I just walked him right in the room.”
Lesson: You have no choice but to wear a Confederate flag on your chest, even though you’re aware of its meaning and that it makes them feel bad. Your t-shirt is an unremovable tattoo that “somehow” symbolizes years of systemic repression. Oops!
3. “We’re still pickin’ up the pieces, walkin’ on eggshells/Fightin’ over yesterday.”
Lesson: Racism happened in the past and does not still occur. No one tweets racist invective about our president, has questioned his birthright or his ability to be president. No one has had to lobby to have an integrated prom. No cities have planned to close their CTA lines to black neighborhoods for months at a time with little thought or care about the populations it will affect. No one is racist anymore. Don Imus? He was just misunderstood.
4. “They called it Reconstruction/Fixed the buildings/Dried some tears/We’re still siftin’ through the rubble after a hundred-fifty years.”
Lesson: Sad country songs aren’t just about dead dogs or old girlfriends anymore. We can now tearfully sing about that super annoying burden of having to fix centuries of oppression. Equal opportunity, y’all! Racism solved.
5. “And we’re still paying for mistakes/That a bunch of folks made long before we came.”
Lesson: You, as a person of privilege and power, have no culpability in the perpetuation of a racist system. Bigotry is generational and something we younguns have overcome, like video stores or having to read books. This is why no young person has ever said anything racist about Obama or anything homophobic. You’re perfect, young people. Never change!
6. “Dear Mr. White Man, I wish you understood.”
Lesson: All people of the caucasian persuasion should be addressed with the suffix of “Mr.” This worked very well in the past and has no negative historical connotations whatsoever. You should start beginning all of your letters this way.
7. “Now my chains are gold but I’m still misunderstood/I wasn’t there when Sherman’s March turned the south into firewood.”
Lesson: Sherman’s March, a protest against the continued enslavement of human beings, is an act for which black people should feel sorry. It’s very equivalent to Southern guilt about slavery, because protesting the chaining and whipping of human beings and chaining and whipping human beings are absolutely equivalent.
8. “So when I see that white cowboy hat/I’m thinkin’ it’s not all good.”
Lesson: Actually I’m not sure. Are cowboy hats racist now?
9. “If you don’t judge my do-rag/I won’t judge your red flag.”
Lesson: Oh, I get it now. Fashion statements and systems of oppression are totally the same thing. Thus, we can forgive the guy who wears a “White Power” sweatshirt, as long as he doesn’t mind my Crocs. Bad fashion sense is a form of slavery in itself. Thanks for opening my eyes, LL.
10. “The past is the past/You feel me/Let bygones be bygones.”
Lesson: We need to forget about racism. All these words singing about talking about racism? Just kidding. Stop talking. No speakie. No. Bad.
11. “RIP Robert E. Lee but I’ve gotta thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me/Know what I mean.”
Lesson: Because historical white men were part of a movement of people working for abolition, all white people have great intentions.
11. “The relationship between the Mason-Dixon needs some fixin.’”
Lesson: Sometimes words rhyme, and when they don’t, you can make them rhyme. This is why Avril Lavigne is the greatest songwriter who ever lived.
12. “I’d love to buy you a beer, conversate and clear the air.”
Lesson: “Conversate” is a word that exists, one that is absolutely in the dictionary. You should start using it in your daily life.
13. “Cause I’m a white man livin’ in the southland.”
Lesson: Brad Paisley is from West Virginia, a state that is
not located in the South. Geography!
14. “Just a proud rebel son with an ‘ol can of worms/Lookin’ like I got a lot to learn.”
Lesson: If you refer to yourself as a “proud rebel son,” despite it’s historical connotations, you don’t actually have anything to learn, even though you look like you do. Other people just need to learn to understand that you’re not an actual racist — just a confused, clueless toolbag who looks like a racist. See the difference?
You think it’s not easy to be brown? Try being white. Racism hurts all of us, but mostly Brad Paisley.