Shackles–the metal u-shaped clasp once used to secure the ankles of slaves has been likened, by LL Cool J, to the glistening gold chains around his muscular neck. “You don’t judge my gold chains/I’ll forget the iron chains,” LL raps on the oxymoronic and offensive country song “Accidental Racist.” If you interpret his lyrics like the rest of the world has, you would agree that bargaining to forget slavery in exchange to not be judged by one’s gaudy jewelery is plain ridiculous and irresponsible.
“Accidental Racist” is an ambitious and obnoxious fake and failed attempt to unite the races through mediocre and uninspiring lyrics. “If you don’t judge my do-rag/I won’t judge your red flag,” is another line from “Accidental Racist” LL probably wishes he never penned. His entire verse is clusterf**k of stanzas he probably, now wishes, he had crumbled up and tossed aside.
“Accidental Racist” feels very contrived like a bad Kim Kardashian publicity stunt. With every stanza an asinine statement, good intention and the knowledgeable ocean of data an individual would need to actually prescribe a remedy to racism, was void and nowhere to be found. Racism is a complex issue and a sensitive topic that should be handled with care. Just because LL is Black and “Accidental Racist” singer Brad Paisley is White doesn’t make it as sweet as a black and white cookie.
The combination, multiplied by ignorant lines like “We’re still pickin’ up the pieces, walkin’ on eggshells, fightin’ over yesterday,” is indicative of an unemphathetic or blatantly unaware nation of people who are blind to the oppression Blacks still face. “Fightin’ over yesterday” would be a fair statement if some Blacks weren’t still caught in a seemingly never-ending cycle of poverty while desperately trying to stay afloat in a White-privileged society. Slavery, unlike other moments in history has traveled through generations in forms or economical strife, lack of education and limited opportunities.
The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife — this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He does not wish to Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He wouldn’t bleach his Negro blood in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of opportunity closed roughly in his face.” -W.E.B Dubois “The Souls of Black Folk”
I don’t expect a country singer, bred in the south, who boasts about the red flag in the back of his pocket to understand why anyone would be offended by what it represents. I do, however, expect Queens-bred Black man LL Cool J to be more aware that he is perpetuating every Black stereotype by offering to ignore the past so he can shamelessly don expensive chains and waddle in pants that hang too low. Abandoning the strife of our ancestors to coincide with fashion is the equivalent of selling one’s blackness.
“Accidental Racist” is the worse country, rap collaboration we’ve heard since Nelly teamed up with Tim McGraw on “Over and Over,” but at least it wasn’t pretending to be something it is not! Instead of forgetting our history and skipping a page in our school textbooks, and try to about we embrace it. Slavery happened and no man, rapper, actor, politician can ever alter that fact.
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