... LL will forget 250 years of enslavement if you accept his taste in accessories! – Stephen Colbert
Several days ago, Stephen Colbert offered his own criticisms of the song “Accidental Racist” on his show. He played the song for his audience and offered his own running commentary on several of the lyrics (such as the one above, in response to the ludicrous “If you don’t judge my gold chains/I’ll forget the iron chains”).
I agreed with the majority of his thoughts about the song (particularly the fact that it is, regardless of everything else, completely unpleasant to listen to musically) but I also felt that, despite all of the song’s shortcomings, Brad Paisley and LL Cool J must have had good intentions behind it. So, I did some research and found this quote, which I thought was interesting:
"The song wasn't perfect. You can't fit 300 or 400 years of history in a three or four-minute song. (True.) Ultimately, I can't defend the song but I can clarify my intentions. There's a lyric in the song where I say, 'If you don't judge my du-rag, I won't judge your red flag.' I in no way would ever compare the history of the confederate flag, when you think of the rapes, the tortures, the murders, the lynching, all the things associated with the confederate flag, with a du-rag. (That's probably wise.) However, when you think about a kid like Trayvon Martin and you think about some of the things that happen in society because of clothing, when you put it in it's proper context, it makes sense. I would never, ever, ever, suggest to anyone that we should just forget slavery and act like that didn't happen. (Again, wise.) The intention was to put something out there that causes people to have a conversation." - LL Cool J
I know this doesn't change the fact that Accidental Racist reinforces cultural divisions and racial stereotypes, but I thought it was at least nice to see his thought process behind it, particularly in reference to Trayvon Martin, the African American teenager who was considered suspicious and subsequently shot because of his hooded sweatshirt. Essentially, LL just wanted to convey that we shouldn’t judge people based on their appearance, particularly the color of their skin – which is something I think we can all agree with. Unfortunately, it just appears that the attempt was a sloppy effort.
Unquestionably, LL is right about one thing – for better or worse, the song is causing conversations.