The Fallout Over LL Cool J & Accidental Racist.. Are We Too Forgiving?

Davey-D-yellow-225-frameBeen thinking about this fall out and the anger everyone has expressed toward LL Cool J around his involvement in the Brad Paisley song ‘Accidental Racist‘. Yeah its a corny song and folks have been getting their clown on about that.. But it’s also brought about a lot of anger, much of directed at LL vs Paisley.

At the core of folks angst is him showing ‘forgiveness‘ and taking a conciliatory tone for wrong doings in the past.. He basically told Paisley its all good, rock that confederate flag as long as you let me rock my doo rag and sagging pants in peace… Many of us flipped out and rightfully asked; ‘LL Cool J how dare you? Where is your pride? Where’s your understanding of Black history? Where are your principles?’

Many said LL had no business compromising the way he did..and I get that..But let’s have an honest discussion..First how many of us have  ‘compromised’ on our principles? ‘ How many of us have tucked away our knowledge of Black history to have a Kumbaya moment?  How many of us have been willing to forgive and literally forget about egregious wrong doings of others who we feel we wanna break bread with? Sometimes we do this with family members, close friends and spouses. Sometimes we do this with our job, the things we consume or the politicians we elect. We compromise and have all sorts of justifications for it..Can we talk about drone strikes anyone? Can we talk about Africom?

Bottom line is at the end of the day many of us find ourselves not wanting to ‘hurt anyone’s feelings’, or wanting to rock the proverbial boat and make folks feel uncomfortable.  As a result we do one of two things.. we fail to take strong principled stances when needed most.. or we wind up self sabotaging ourselves or compromising a situation vs going all out and making hard demands even if we know its right and surely needed.  For many of us its easier to go along ‘get along’ then it is to take the reins in be in charge..We need to be honest…

Barackobama-yesWeCaveIn looking at the LL Cool J situation and the anger around it, what came across was a guy not wanting to make waves. Seemed like he was playing it safe.. Maybe he did it for his career after all Hollywood is fickle. Maybe he was afraid he might lose some friends or step on toes.. LL is no dummy.. He’s been around for minute..

I can’t help put think of the debates that ensued during President Obama‘s run for the White House. If you recall there were all sorts of heated discussions about Obama not showing anger or drawing firm lines in the sand in the face of egregious insults and mistreatment.. Whether it was his friend Skip Gates having an unfair confrontation with Harvard police, reporters, pundits  and fellow politicians taking vile racial remarks or Arizona governor Jan Brewer putting her finger in his face, we were told that Obama was doing the right thing by taking the high road and that he was setting a good example for all of us to follow by appealing to ones humanity vs ‘lowering himself’…Some of us said he was caving in too much.. The push back to such accusations was strong..We were told if we take the high road it will be reciprocated..Obama was setting a tone for us to appeal to our higher selves.. Was LL trying to take the high road and appeal to ones humanity in his own way?

Ronald Reagan Opposed Nelson Mandela. He saw him and the Adfrican national Congress as Terrorists

Was Nelson Mandela was too forgiving?

During the fall of Apartheid and Nelson Mandela pushed for the country to do Truth and Reconciliation…We were told that this was a way for folks to atone and it would help bring about true healing..  There were many who praised Mandela and said he was a shining example of humanity.. Many others including his former wife Winnie Mandela said he sold us out and shortchanged the revolution.. She and others called for justice with folks being severely punished for wrong doings and those who were smashed on being compensated and restitution given..Many said Nelson Mandela was too forgiving..

The push back on Willie were arguments centering on one can never be too forgiving.  Moving forward and healing and letting God or the Universe and higher powers take control were the orders of the day with lots of  leaders, Black, white and other say talk of ‘vengeance‘ was outrageous and shortsighted..

LL Cool J RedNow I’m in no way saying LL’s song Accidental Racist is anywhere on the level of the Truth and Reconciliation process in South Africa, but the anger and frustration I’ve seen expressed reminds me of the sentiments I saw expressed when folks first heard about the process..Our collective outlook on compromise and forgiveness has been complicated by what we been taught about ‘holding grudges’ and seeking revenge.. Some of us have been informed by our religious or spiritual beliefs… Some of us have been informed by societal dictates.. It gets confusing with no real blue print.. Many of us have been taught that seeking justice is the akin to seeking revenge and hence many have avoided it like the plague.

This LL Cool J situations suggests that its high time we have honest discussions on what it means to truly forgive someone and how to express it. We need to talk about ‘Whats the difference between seeing the humanity in someone and trying to ‘be humane’ by taking the high road vs appeasing someone and making unnecessary compromises?  Can you really say RIP general Robert E Lee??

Some food for thought

-Davey D-

17 comments on “The Fallout Over LL Cool J & Accidental Racist.. Are We Too Forgiving?

  1. I could say Rest In Peace Hitler! But a dead man doesnt give a fuck….nor do the people who follow him. The words falls on deaf ears…


  2. It’s interesting. I’ve always admired and respected LL from afar, I grew up listening to his music. I’ve got all the albums, though I tend to like the early albums much
    more than the latter-day albums. Hopefully he’ll get into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame next year.
    LL’s stabs at “political” or “social justice” subject matter have been rather scattershot over the years. Especially on his early albums, he tended to avoid the directly political or afrocentric agitation of a Boogie Down Productions, Public Enemy or Brand Nubian. Savvy heads will remember that he wrote MC Lyte’s part in “Self Destruction”, but did not do a rap himself (nor appear in the video). He did do a rap on the follow-up, “H.E.A.L. yourself (his verse centered around female masturbation and drug abuse, go figure) but he chose not to be in the video. “Illegal Search”, about police harassment, seemed to get fans back. “All We Got Left is the Beat”, from the “14 Shots…” LP was maybe his most blatantly politcal-styled song to date at the time. “Homicide” on the G.O.A.T. tread similar territory, where he remarked “Columbine happens in the ‘hood every day… and most of y’all ain’t got nothin’ to say.”
    “Mr. President” (featuring Wyclef) was an album cut off “Exit 13” that touched on the current Gulf Wars.
    He was apparently booed at a “Rappers against Racism” rally circa 1989,when “Walking with a Panther” was considered by some to be the Golden Age version of “Watch the Throne”, party-time and lavish-living cluelessness amidst rampant inner-city social turmoil.
    LL has publicly described himself as an independent, in an interview with CNN’s Pierce Morgan. I suspect the alleged GOP allegiance, in part, from his public endorsement of former NY governor Pataki around the time that Carl McCall was the Democratic Party’s first major African-American candidate for governor (supposedly, LL registered as a voter for the first time during this election cycle). Another alleged connection (IMO, somewhat of a flimsy one) was that LL was among those giving tribute to the late James Brown at the Kennedy Center Awards 2003 ceremony, which took place during George W. Bush’s tenure.
    LL also testified to Congress circa 1999, during the Napster-driven Internet filesharing controversy, arguing on the side of stricter regulations and “being compensated”. On another note, LL openly balked when a Fox News show starring Sarah Palin (the concept was “American success stories”) planned to use a much-older interview with him as part of the program.
    With this latest song (the links seem to keep being pulled down, lol) I haven’t heard it yet, so I’ll reserve judgment for now. Somehow, I’m thinking that the final product would be different if Mr. Paisley approached KRS-One or Chuck D.

  3. I think that part of people’s ability to “forgive and forget” depends on the how close they are to the situation and if the pain can still be felt.

    I may be able to forgive Robert Lee..if what he did effect my ancestors and stayed in the past, but it’s harder for me to forgive racism that happens and effects me and my family today.

    I think that is the main issue with POC vs the powers that be..systematic racism is STILL being felt. It ain’t over!

    And have we really ever heard: “I’m sorry?” No. Clinton did it..but there are pockets of America that ain’t sorry at all. That’s why merely having a confederate flag is so galling!

    How can we forgive someone who is unrepentant?

  4. Yo Davey respect ya clearances on a business behalf since Nuremberg trials ‘n errors we have as paragraphs the Rome judiciary never arranged all deficit capital_Ism flies off. It could be only the sentiment on conclude the on goin debates on North-Americas history x on scales what have the ideological illest demands have done for the myth on community buildin, fresh narrated architecture’..called fuckin labor. Its sharp lines on such projects your security alliances as hetero-topoi institutions never apprehend on such handlin the breath on color as fashion smegma the medical counter assurance, is not the chief of staff or pre_1989 South-Africa as example on Commonwealth the Union for a better occurrence the East,..its for me here in the beaf of ‘Carl Schmitt’ and Germanys death camp champions by history the ‘X’ the paragraphs on all the death camps before around the globe and forced labor, is more the arrogance on such stupid merchant on some stupid folks in their crust of wealth ‘n measures…the media bluff on fashion and smartphone illest will not give such stocks of B-Boii aRappin celebrities a chance after the riots at the rumbled fish barricades,…it will be a DIY commune for self_respectin the facts on another gossip on urban streets fair…

    Unity of Oppression still will exist as long as capitalism exist…and communism has its liberal standards before the spirit of Europe in thier mashine sormy days…

    Respect to all Ladyz out there…the struggle will continue…


  5. davey, i’m a teacher in inglewood, and when issues like the l.l.-paisley thing come up, they have an impact on students like mine, whose lives are utterly shaped by popular culture. in conversations with my students, i’ve tried to emphasize that when forgiveness involves historical events, it ceases to be a personal matter. l.l. cool j can personally be ok with paisley’s confederate flag, but as a nation, we cannot be ok with it, ever, because of what it stood for and still stands for. it’s not simply an attitude, and it’s certainly not a musical fashion accessory (tom petty used it as an onstage background some years ago; ditto the 70s “southern rockers”). so while it’s important we know how to forgive friends, family, and what have you, it’s equally important to understand the difference between personal events involving the folks in our lives, and history-making events, political events, powerful events that shape millions of lives. i think your example of south africa and mandela was good, but it’s crucial for my students to understand that power had changed hands; victory came after years of bloody fighting. had the anc, mandela, and his followers not won that revolution, there would have been no reconciliation or forgiveness; there would have been continued fighting against the murderous apartheid system. that’s how i feel about the use of the confederate flag, and what i’m emphasizing with my students today. if america had ever leveled the playing field; if we’d instituted real equality; if cops didn’t brutalize and even shoot non-white people for little or no reason; if income levels, job opportunities, housing, medical care, and – well – hope for the future was every fully realized, then it would be time to forgive and forget. but i teach in a broken school system to students whose families too often have to struggle – really struggle – to get by. the playing field is still tilted and when l.l. cool j, or anyone else, does something to whitewash this reality, it’s wrong. america can worry about making each other feel warm and fuzzy when the racial inequality is a thing of the past.

  6. Paisley said he released the song to start dialogue. A song doesn’t start dialogue, it provokes emotion. If he so wants to start a dialogue about race relations he should hold discussion panels where emotions can be expressed.
    Without a positive direction for people’s emotions to be expressed is just another person making money by fallacy of emotion.

  7. I don’t see an “apology” in the song. Nor any evidence of any awareness of the structural nature of racism. And apologizing so called while defending the Confederacy?

  8. People are way too sensitive these days. For a country that is all about freedom of speech why do ppl constantly have to apologize for something they say ina song. If you don’t like it don’t listen to it. Ll and paisley and any. Other artist shouldn’t have to apologize for anything they say cuz somebodie get they panties twisted. Can’t say anything without somebody crying

  9. Mr. or Ms Sneek , I’m glad that you kept your panties straight on this issue. You are obviously an poorly educated white person, who thinks America is a democracy, but this country has never been about any kind of freedom for African American. 14 year-old Emmitt Till was brutally beaten and murdered because he allegedly whistled at a white woman in your country “that is all about freedom of speech.” As long as that speech is about how good America is, that speech is free. We do not take our history lightly the way you and L.L. and Brad do. The three of you should suck on each others’ panties.

  10. Do you mean you don’t agree that 14 year-old Emmitt Till was murdered by the KKK for exercising what you call “freedom of speech?” As you put it, “Other artist(sic) shouldn’t have to apologize for anything they say cuz somebodie(sic) get their panties twisted.” Well, Sneek, when the racists got their panties twisted they didn’t ask young Emmitt for an apology; they took his life. Do you agree with me on that? If you are a Brother, then this dialogue is from the heart with love for my people.

  11. I don’t want to sound extreme or radical, but I think the days of forgiving and turning the other cheek are over( at least for me). They don’t appreciate or care about us forgiving them. And no matter how much we have tried to prove our loyalty to this country, they still treat us like trash.

    Look at the blatant disrespect of Obama. The things they have said about him and his family is beyond insulting, but we have to keep on forgiving right???

    Ill start forgiving when I see justice done and individuals held accountable for years of murder, brutality, rape and racism. Until then I refuse to. I don’t hate, I don’t want revenge, but I want individuals to acknowledge they were wrong and stop trying to white wash the past.

  12. Do Jews forgive Germans for concentration camps and mass murders of Jewish men, women and children in gas warehouses? Is L L.a fanatical forgiving Christian or an ignorant fool about his ancestors being defined as work animals?

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