On his new single, “Accidental Racist,” Brad Paisley’s character describes himself as “Just a proud rebel son/With an ol’ can of worms.” And as he cracks that can wi-i-i-i-ide open, the worms aren’t the only ones squirming – millions of listeners are, too.
The song, featuring a solo by rap legend LL Cool J, is a look at race relations from both sides of the issue: a white Southern man who’s tired of being blamed for the sins of his ancestors, and a Northern black man who sees the other’s Confederate shirt as an unspoken message that “you wish I wasn’t here.” But some of the ideas expressed in the song – like the notion that we can just “forgive and forget” the evils of slavery – have both music critics and fans howling with outrage and laughter.
Paisley explained in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly that he didn’t write the song as a “stunt,” but as a way of addressing age-old issues that are far from resolved. “We’re all left holding the bag here, left with the burden of these generations,” he said. “And I think the younger generations are really kind of looking for ways out of this.”
As fathers to members of that younger generation – Paisley has two young sons; LL has four older children – the musicians no doubt felt a personal call to make a difference, too. So they deserve credit for at least putting the subject out there. If “Accidental Racist” gets kids talking honestly about race issues instead of keeping quiet out of discomfort, that’s no small feat. (And hey, anything‘s better than listening to them sing “Harlem Shake” for the zillionth time.)
Here are some of the issues in “Accidental Racist” that can help you get an important dialogue going with your children:
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[Photos: via PacificCoastNews, Wikimedia Commons]
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