Watch this, and do try to take it seriously:
I get what he’s trying to do with this. See, race in the South is still a much more confrontational issue than in the rest of the US. I’m going to speak plainly about perception and stereotypes here…the perception is that black folks are lazy and don’t wanna work, and with food stamps and all their welfare babies they can take advantage of the system so they don’t have to. Which is why so many white Southerners are Republicans, because all they see is abuse of the welfare system and they’re sick of paying for LaTonya’s Section 9 housing while she drives a newer car than they do (my family maintains low-end rental housing, sadly I have seen this). And since small Southern towns are small and everybody shops at the same Wal-Mart, the racial divide is very prominent.
And for a specific personal example, the first time I encountered racism was in middle school, must have been the early 90’s? My new best friend was a black girl, which I didn’t think had any significance whatsoever, because kids never do until they’re taught so. I asked my mother if my friend could come spend the night, and my mother — my dear mother, who I love — said no, because “it just wasn’t right.” It was completely unfathomable.
So he’s trying to start the conversation where white Southerners are today, which is very far back, to bring race issues to common ground. Which is honorable. But to do this, he also includes immature thinking about how his generation didn’t cause slavery, or fight to protect the institution of slavery, but is still blamed for these horrible abuses. He just wants to fly his rebel flag, because Southern pride! Brad Paisley, do you realize that even though the current generation of African Americans weren’t personally enslaved, that they’re still suffering the social and economic consequences? It’s not directly your fault, but that doesn’t mean it’s an accident.
And, omg, LL Cool J. Cool J, no. Don’t advocate for erasing your OWN historical context. In his own words:
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
If you don’t judge my do-rag
I won’t judge your red flag
Quite frankly I’m a black Yankee but I’ve been thinkin’ about this lately
The past is the past, you feel me
Let bygones be bygones
RIP Robert E. Lee but I’ve gotta thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me, know what I mean
Do you, really, know what he means?
I’m going to monitor my Facebook feed (99% Southerners) to see what kind of conversation this song stirs up, if any. Who knows, maybe it’ll actually do some good. It’s not the song about prejudice Southerners need, but it’s the song we deserve.