Life is Music April 11, 2013: ‘Accidental Racist’ is awful, not accidentally

It’s another rudieTuesday, which means another day where I equate a news event with a song! This week’s rudieTuesday falls on a Thursday, because, well, life happens. But it’s worth it, because this week is a playlist instead of one song.

You may have heard about this week’s story on or before rudieTuesday. It may have prompted face-palming, eye-rolling, or laptop-across-the-room-throwing.

That’s because this week’s news story is the existence of and subsequent viral nature of Brad Paisley and LL Cool J’s hit single, “Accidental Racism.” Whoops!

Most articles written about this song have had a decent grasp on how bad this song is, and why it’s so bad. Unfortunately, but as to be expected, not everyone realized this.

The Village Voice’s take on the song, for instance, is disappointing at best, and offensive at worst. Author  Alan Scherstuhl calls the song “imperfect” at worst and “more complex than the simpleminded reactions it has stirred” at next-to-worst. Oh, how now even close that is. I adore the Village Voice and hoped for better, but I guess I shouldn’t have expected more from someone writing about country music in NYC.

This song is awful for a lot of reasons. One of those reasons is that racism is still a problem. The generalized white guy in the song’s biggest problem is his t-shirt is offensive and he’s ignorant. The generalized person of color in the song’s biggest problem is that he’s likely to face discrimination in education and employment, and be targeted by police who assume he’s a criminal because of his skin color. Brad Paisley’s biggest problem is he probably thinks this song is a positive step towards stomping out racism. LL Cool J’s biggest problem is he thought participating in this song would be a good idea.

In response to this inane song, The Atlanic posted a list of songs about racism on the non-awful end of the spectrum. I thought the idea fit with the spirit of this blog, so below is my own short playlist. Enjoy! And, ya know, smash racism. (Some lyrics NSFW.)

The Coup – “We Are the Ones”

Brother Ali  – “Uncle Sam Goddamn”

Mos Def – “Wahid”

OPM – “Unda”

Operation Ivy – “Officer”

Blogger’s note: You may have noticed this playlist is half the length of The Atlantic’s playlist, and still not all punky music. This is because, while a number of punk bands do tackle the issue of racism, few of them are people of color themselves. It’s an interesting tie-in to this issue. Punk is dominated by white dudes. As a result, this playlist is short, as to not also be dominated by white dudes.

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