Brad Paisley and LL Cool J are causing a bit of controversy with their new collaboration called “Accidental Racist.”
In the song, Paisley says wearing a Confederate flag t-shirt doesn’t make him a racist. Instead it just makes him a “Skynyrd fan” that is proud of his southern heritage.
LL’s verse says, “Dear Mr. White Man, I wish you understood. What the world is really like when you’re livin’ in the hood. Just because my pants are saggin’ doesn’t mean I’m up to no good.”
The song is supposed to be about misconceptions but the song is also a reminder that “racist” has become one of the most overused words in the English language.
Merriam-Webster defines racism as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”
Of course, there are racists all across America and we should save the word and the label for the true racists. Overusing the term makes it moot and ineffective and, ultimately, the term’s overuse makes it harder to spot the real racists because everyone is not a racist, just like every man can’t be a sexist.
Last week, President Barack Obama was called that by many of his own supporters on social media when he said California Attorney General Kamala Harris is the “by far the best looking attorney general in the country.”
The comment was inappropriate and the president, no doubt, wishes he had never said it, but one comment doesn’t mean President Obama is a sexist, nor does it mean he requires gender sensitivity training either.
I have noticed this pattern regarding social media. It’s a collective rush to push out opinions on every topic that becomes “trending.” The collective rush leads to an overhyped debate. The overhyped debate has caused important, powerful words to be rendered useless due to overuse. Overuse, then, ushers in shorter attention spans so we will stop paying attention when someone truly deserves the label of racist or sexist.
And then we all end up sounding like Brad Paisley.