Did Brad Paisley’s “Accidental Racist” continue, or did it defy, the tradition of depicting white southerners as the victims of Reconstruction?
Studying history is very important because it helps us understand why the world is the way it is in the present. It is important to study history for us to understand what shapes our ways of living. It teaches learners what happened in the past and how such occurrences worked to shape our current ways of living. Racism is a very sensitive subject that has taken the interest of many people within the American society. Much controversy has been laid on white southerners, who have been seen to promote pride and assume that slavery and racism are non-existent. Brad Paisleys has been moved into this controversy through his song “Accidental Racist” featuring LL Cool J. Did this song defy or did it continue the history of depicting white southerners as victims of reconstruction?
Brad Paisleys song did continue the tradition of depicting the white southerners as the victims of reconstruction. This tradition can be dated back to 1939 in the film “Gone with the Wind”. The film has received much criticism for depicting the whites from the south as rosy and appreciative of all races. The film depicts many historical myths and inconsistencies in an attempt to glorify the white community from the south (Conde 2). Throughout the film, there is an attempt to depict a society where every individual was non-racist. The character of Mummy exists in a caricature form, and all her masters are brought out as caring and loving to her. It is understood that, during this period, racism and slavery of the African-Americans was rampant throughout the United States (Blackmon 21). This is the period in which various social movements were out in an attempt to end slavery. However, “Gone with the Wind” fails to create a real picture of such a society and instead, creates a fantasy society where no one was racist (Juddery, 3).
The same theme is well brought out in the song “Accidental Racist”. Through the song, Brad Paisley tries to bring out his character as a southerner who does not believe in racism and is just blamed for the sins of his fathers. By saying that he is being blamed for the sins of his fathers, Paisley is trying to justify that racism is a thing of the past that the modern society does not embrace (Coates 1). Some lines in the song come out as offensive to African-Americans. For example, Paisley sings, “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.” These lines bring out the lives of African-Americans as so exotic and mysterious before the whites (Pitts 1). This is not the kind of perception expected from a person who claims to be a non-believer of racism. I consider this song a continuation of the pride of white southerners who claims to be the pro-advocates of a non-racial society, yet they find it impossible to live in the encounters of the African-Americans in their society.
Racism is a real problem in the society that requires continuous attention and criticism. The solution of this problem highly depends on what will be done on the future. Blaming the past will not help but propagate the problem further. A society that claims to be equal and non-racial should understand the problems and lifestyles of each other regardless of color. However, this is not the case in “Accidental Racist” where Paisleys perceive to shun racism, yet finds it impossible to live the lifestyle of African-Americans.
Blackmon, D. A. (2008). Slavery by another name: The re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. New York: Doubleday.
Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Why ‘Accidental Racist’ is Actually Just Racist. The Atlantic. 9 April 2013. < http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/04/why-accidental-racist-is- actually-just-racist/274826/>
Conde, Mary. “Some African-American Fictional Responses to Gone With the Wind.” The Yearbook of English Studies. 26. (1996) JSTOR. University of Pennsylvania Library. Philadelphia. 1 Dec. 2008. < http://www.jstor.org/stable/3508659>
Juddery, Mark. “Gone With the Wind.” History Today (Aug. 2008). EBSCO MegaFILE. University of Pennsylvania Library. Philadelphia. 1 Dec. 2008.
Pitts, Leonard, Junior. Leonard Pitts: Brad Paisley’s ‘Accidental Racist’ not Honest. Miami Herald. 4 October 2013. < http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/04/13/3340702/brad- paisleys-accidental-racist.html>