Accidental Idiots

Hi, I’m MaNishtana, AND WTF?? HAVE YOU HEARD THIS “ACCIDENTAL RACIST” SONG BY BRAD PAISLEY? AND LL COOL J? LL COOL J??!??!!!

*ahem*

1-I’d like to thank Chef Moses Wendel for bringing this to my attention. Who’s Chef Moses Wendel? Well keep your eyes peeled next week and you’ll know…

2-WTF. If you didn’t click on that link to listen to the song up there, here’s the lyrics:

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
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
Just a proud rebel son with an ‘ol can of worms
Lookin’ like I got a lot to learn but from my point of view

I’m just a white man comin’ to you from the southland
Tryin’ to understand what it’s like not to be
I’m proud of where I’m from but not everything we’ve done
And it ain’t like you and me can re-write history
Our generation didn’t start this nation
We’re still pickin’ up the pieces, walkin’ on eggshells, fightin’ over yesterday
And caught between southern pride and southern blame

They called it Reconstruction, fixed the buildings, dried some tears
We’re still siftin’ through the rubble after a hundred-fifty years
I try to put myself in your shoes and that’s a good place to begin
But it ain’t like I can walk a mile in someone else’s skin

‘Cause I’m a white man livin’ in the southland
Just like you I’m more than what you see
I’m proud of where I’m from but not everything we’ve done
And it ain’t like you and me can re-write history
Our generation didn’t start this nation
And we’re still paying for the mistakes
That a bunch of folks made long before we came
And caught between southern pride and southern blame

Dear Mr. White Man, I wish you understood
What the world is really like when you’re livin’ 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, dodgin’ invisible white hoods
So when I see that white cowboy hat, I’m thinkin’ it’s not all good
I guess we’re both guilty of judgin’ 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

I’m just a white man
(If you don’t judge my do-rag)
Comin’ to you from the southland
(I won’t judge your red flag)
Tryin’ to understand what it’s like not to be
I’m proud of where I’m from
(If you don’t judge my gold chains)
But not everything we’ve done
(I’ll forget the iron chains)
It ain’t like you and me can re-write history
(Can’t re-write history baby)

Oh, Dixieland
(The relationship between the Mason-Dixon needs some fixin’)
I hope you understand what this is all about
(Quite frankly I’m a black Yankee but I’ve been thinkin’ about this lately)
I’m a son of the new south
(The past is the past, you feel me)
And I just want to make things right
(Let bygones be bygones)
Where all that’s left is southern pride
(RIP Robert E. Lee but I’ve gotta thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me, know what I mean)
It’s real, it’s real
It’s truth

Yeah…

Apparently this was a song meant to end racism. Apparently it thought it’d be different and try taking a disingenuously racist approach. (Wait, is that what the title means? That they were being accidentally racist when they were writing it? That the song itself is accidentally racist? If so, then well played, sir. That is some Alanis-level of irony right there, then.)

I dunno about anyone else, but (aside from the fact that for some reason LL Cool J decided to GIVE A SHOUTOUT TO ROBERT E LEE at the end) this song can’t even get past the opening lyrics without being problematic:

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
The red flag on my chest somehow is like the elephant in the corner of the south”

…or in non-lyrical parlance:

“To the Black guy who served me at Starbucks, don’t get pissed off when you’re in a lower wage job than I have and I’m wearing the Confederate flag which is a symbol of the slavery which you are still symbolically under oppression of.”

Also, there’s this lyric:

I’m proud of where I’m from but not everything we’ve done
And it ain’t like you and me can re-write history
Our generation didn’t start this nation
We’re still pickin’ up the pieces, walkin’ on eggshells, fightin’ over yesterday
And caught between southern pride and southern blame”

Really?

Southern “blame”? Sure you don’t wanna just put “shame” right there instead, sunshine?

Also: “Fighting over yesterday?” If you mean that literally, then sure, I guess Trayvon Martin was a little bit over a year ago. But if you’re being, like, artistic and stuff and using hyperbole, then honestly? The only people fighting over yesterday are all those Tea Partiers and Klans-folk who are still mad from that one time we took all their slaves away.

Also: Um, did LL Cool J really just 1-Apologize for the slave-holding-willing-to-go-to-war-to-keep-their-slaves South getting their (excuse my French) shit wrecked? 2-Equate jewelry with slave chains?

Actually, maybe I’m being too hard on LL. He probably meant it as some kind of sly metaphor/commentary on the bling-bling hip-hop culture slave mentality.

(If you don’t judge my gold chains)
(I’ll forget the iron chains)”

Oh.

Nope.

Nope, he wasn’t.

He was apparently saying that all Black people need to forgive slavery is for White people to say that they’re HUGE Mr. T fans.

I can’t. I really can’t with this song.

Maybe, you can’t rewrite history. You could try at least rewriting the song, though.

You could go back to the drawing board and just, y’know…Not.

manishtanasignoff

MaNishtana@manishtana.net

twitter.com/MaNishtana

Order Thoughts From A Unicorn: 100% Black. 100% Jewish. 0% Safe.

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3 thoughts on “Accidental Idiots

  1. I’m sorry, I admit I just couldn’t get passed the first few lines. What that says about me I’ll leave between myself and Hashem; you all can think what you like about the fact that I didn’t finish reading the lyrics – won’t bother me.

    I had to stop because I want to tell the story of being in Missouri for five months recently. I met a woman there and we – had a thing going. Nee way the lyrics reminded me of a date she and I went on to an antique store. This place had a lot to offer and we were having a nice time … then we got to the display case in a corner of the front of the store, not visible to passersby in the street, but you just couldn’t miss it once inside the store no matter how long it took you to get to that end. Prominently displayed in this SW corner of Missouri antique store were memorabilia of Nazis, the Confederacy and the KKK all for sale. Picture it: an interracial, Jewish, lesbian (then) couple standing in front of these proudly displayed items representing hatred for sale. Why because “it’s our heritage”; “because to NOT have it available is to censor history, and that’s not freedom”.

    Why did the first few lyrics trigger this? Do you know how often I had to look at the Confederate flag while I was there? And be non verbally told that those waving this flag just don’t care what others think? I did try having a chinwag with one gentleman; and the scary thing was that he made his points eloquently – they made sense. The main argument, it seems, has to do with censorship, and rebelling against being able to say what you really mean because you have “be sensitive to others’ feelings now”. This gentleman, part Native American (Cherokee, I believe), I’m paraphrasing said something like forced sensitivity accomplishes nothing in communication. All people prefer that people be honest – say what they mean. Dealing with racism will come from saying what’s on peoples’ mind, not from pretending to be nice (hope I captured his point correctly). I listened and thanked him for his clarification – and as I walked away, I wondered if he understood that the only reason he and I spoke to each other as equals for a couple of minutes was because the south DID NOT with the Civil War.

    I’d have to have another crack at reading the lyrics, but I gotta tell ya: the point of this post was to tell of the knee jerk reaction to the opening, which was made manifest by the memory of that date that I was on. Can we really be expected to NOT have an emotional reaction to the Confederate flag? Was it reasonable to expect me to NOT be taken aback at that display case selling Nazi, Confederate and KKK items? The general argument is as that gentleman I spoke to said: it’s about censoring the past which is a problem. But what was also there in that conversation was the lack of care by proponents for such items. The lack of care about what about those of us who’s ancestors were on the tail end of such circumstances think and feel. There was a feeling of being more interested in using freedom of speech as an avenue to get away with perpetuating these images, and no acknowledgement of the representation of these items throughout history. If a country singer and a rapper what to sing a song together perhaps that’s progress; but what was the point of the shirt flag? Is the being a Lynard Skynard fan a good enough reason to be wearing it? Can’t you be an LS fan without outfitting yourself in a garment representing slavery?

    I’ll be fair. I’ll fight the trigger and have another look at the lyrics. But it was worth it to tell the story of being triggered at all. Freedom of speech, right? Risking sounding like I may have missed the mark for the sake of saying what I really think, right?

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  2. I’m a woman of my word: I read through the lyrics.

    I think some fair questions that might make a good poll is this (especially to be considered by those of us who have or have had and may have again *intimate relationships with white people): IF the desire to let “bygones be bygones” exists, what exactly is preventing that? Think in terms of the present and how the past continues to affect the present. (Some say there’s been no resolution of a given event which is why one may “live in the past”. Psychologically, the past IS the present to the individual. How does this play out collectively? What remains unresolved?)

    Also:
    Can we presuppose that because (slowly) intimate relationships are evolving between white people and people of color, that there can be: a) no more racism; b) racism has decreased; c) racism has changed shape to something as yet to be defined?

    How about: When does a white person stop being a white person, if ever?

    In our interracial interactions with each other – white/and…; black/and…; Asian/and…; …; are we able to be fully autonomous and say what’s really on our minds, or are we thinking “happy thoughts” only?

    This is all that I can think of at the moment.

    Thanks for reading!
    —–
    (“intimate relationships” include but are not limited to: parent/child [by birth or adoption]; siblings; aunt/uncle; cousins; grandparent/grandchild; friendships; lovers/spouses/domestic partners [same and opposite sex relationships])

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  3. One more question for the would be poll: can we presume that the increased wealth, celebrity and political power of a few people of color is an accurate indicator of race relations in western culture?

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