Curtis Cook. Brody Theater. 02/28/13. Photo by Jason Traeger.
(I do not typically provide preliminary disclaimers to anything posted here, but there is a pretty good chance that this is going to offend you. So if you’re worried about that, don’t read it. Because if you do read it, and it does offend you, and you try to contact me about your precious god damned feelings, I am going to ignore you. I don’t have time for your shit and I’m not making you read this. But also, I love you and desperately need your validation. It’s complicated. So just know that)
Dear Mr. Brad Paisley and Mr. L.L. Cool J.
Your new musical release, Accidental Racist, was recently brought to my attention via the slew of mass attention and mixed reviews it received on the internet. And while I am sure that you two incredibly wealthy, successful, and clearly moronic cunts shan’t be bothered with a letter, however sincere, meant for you in response to your musical collaboration, I would be remiss if I did not take a few minutes to address your new song.
I would first like to address Mr. Brad Paisley, as I have been assured that the song was originally your idea.
First of all, Mr. Brad Paisley, let me say that I am a huge fan of yours. My mother’s musical tastes exposed me to country at a very early age; and while I will admit that, at first, I was reluctant to embrace the genre, it has since become very dear to me. I find that country music makes for excellent I’m-About-To-Go-Out-Drinking songs, provides pretty good I-Have-No-Plans-And-Am-Drinking-Alone-Tonight tunes, and is the best source of I-Am-Really-Really-Drunk-And-On-The-Brink-Of-Suicide jams. Your music specifically, Mr. Brad Paisley, has, in the past, often been the soundtrack to many a drunken nights in my formative college years, and still graces the summer air at many of my family picnics and gatherings.
So take that for what it’s worth, Mr. Brad Paisley. Your music is, to a country fan, already enjoyable enough to cross the racial divide, and you don’t have to try so hard that you embarrass yourself.
As for all the other offensive aspects of your songs, Mr. Brad Paisley, know that I really don’t have time to explain racism to you. I don’t have time to explain that your precious confederate flag only exists because many southern states were so reluctant to give up the practice of slavery that they stopped being a part of America. I don’t have time to explain to you how that is almost the very definition of un-American behavior. Nor do I have time to discuss the thousands of American lives that were wasted as your fashion-apparel flag flew high above confederate soldiers. Because your flag caused more blood to fall on my county’s soil than it has ever known before or since.
So, instead, I am going to do something else for you. And, please do keep in mind that this will be something I do for you, not to you. This is a courteous act I toss in your general direction, because just as you tried to point out how I may misunderstand your confederate apparel, I simply want to help you conceive the treachery of what you represent by wearing it.
Also, Mr. Brad Pasley and Mr. Brad Paisley lawyers, please keep in mind that this is what I am going to do for you in a strictly allegorical sense. I have no desire or intention to do these things in actuality, and I mean them to serve simply to prove a point within this specific writing sample. And I have to say that, as otherwise the legality to the following is in one of those pesky gray areas:
I am going to kidnap your family, Mr. Brad Paisley. And I am going to starve them. And I am going to beat them. And when your children cry, as Wikipedia has informed me you have two of them, Huck and Jasper, I am going to lash at them until I draw blood. And when one of them dies before the others – of either exhaustion or shame or disease or bleeding or whatever, because I really won’t care – I am going to chop that child to bits and feed his fleshy entrails to your remaining son. And then, when your last child’s soul is broken and the childlike wonder you used to admire so much as a father has been banished from what’s left of his mind, I am going to kill him. I’m going to tie him to a horse and let that horse run wild until your son has been dragged to death and nothing but mutilated heaps of what used to be your family leave traces like slug lines along the paths of my Clydesdales.
And then I am going to rape your wife, Mr. Brad Paisley. Kimberly Williams-Paisley has such a pretty face, doesn’t she? And I am going to rape her for so long and with such frequency that she comes to think that’s all she’s good for. And when I bore with her, when I can’t use her any longer for her cunt will become bloodied and callused, I will clutch my fingers around her neck so I can feel the last beats of her pulse as the light is drowned from her eyes amidst the slew of assault I bestow upon her. And when she is dead, I shall batter her face with my fists until the eyes and cheeks and lips you used to so lovingly dote on are nothing but bloodied remnants of what used to be. And then – and I do hope you are still paying attention Mr. Brad Paisley – after that bit of drudgery, I am going to string your dear wife by her bruised neck from a tree in my yard and set fire below her feet until her soft, white skin is nothing more than chard death and the smell of freshly burnt flesh. And I will leave her there, Mr. Brad Paisley. I will leave her swinging from that tree branch all day and all night, like a trophy. Like an award one displays with pride on a mantle. And when you cut her down and steal her back in the dead of night for fear of what would happen should I catch you – when you run into the night with her corpse on your shoulders and the sounds of my barking hounds chasing after you – only then may you properly burry the remnants of what used to be your wife.
And then we’ll have t-shirts made! OMG it’ll be so much fun, Mr. Brad Paisley. I have a few friends who took screen-printing classes in college. So I’ll call them up and we’ll get some drafts and in just a little bit of time I will have freshly made t-shirts of your wife’s raped, beaten, lynched, burnt corpse. And I will wear it all the time! I’ll even have some of the shirts made so that, right in front of the picture your dead wife’s raped, beaten lynched, burnt corpse, the words “PRIDE,” or “Southern Grown,” or, “Git-R-Done” appear in big, bold letters. And then we’ll make towels and t-shirts and belt buckles and socks and all other sorts of fun things featuring your dead wife’s raped, beaten, lynched, burnt corpse.
And don’t worry, I won’t face any sort of legal consequence for my actions. In fact, I will go on to be quite successful! I will go on to have a family that does quite well by the standards of our time. And those children shall piss and dance on your wife’s grave. Isn’t that lovely, Mr. Brad Paisley!? While you live to mourn the family you once knew, my mounting number of descendents shall make every moment of your life a torturous hell. And then, of course, my children will have children. And those, my grandchildren, will belittle every aspect of American dignity that could ever possibly be held dear by anyone looking even remotely like you. They will deny whatever distant family you are left with from education or employment or equality. Sometimes, they too will even kill and/or rape your descendents for no reason at all. And while some of them may possibly face some type of minor consequence for their legal infractions, little more than that will happen until my children’s children’s children’s children start to feel really kinda bad. They won’t like at all what their ancestors have done to you and your family. They’ll feel just plain old awful about the sad state of affairs previous generations of my kin have forced your people into. But, you know, it’s not their fault, right? So why would they, like, help you or feel too bad or something like that, you know? Let bygones be bygones, Mr. Brad Paisley. And of course they will still wear the t-shirts of your wife’s raped, beaten, lynched, burnt corpse. Why wouldn’t they? They’ll still be proud of where they came from. And doesn’t the elitist pride of a privileged class matter more than continuing to offend the downtrodden? I should think so Mr. Brad Paisley.
Unless, of course, I am mistaken, and that is not exactly the type of thing you are defending in your new song. Because, if you are not saying that I shouldn’t be at all bothered by your wearing a confederate flag t-shirt despite how it represents an entire half of our country fractioning away from The Union in order to support the continuation of the villainous, disgusting hate that was American Slavery and is American Racism, then I am so sorry. Because if that’s not exactly what the fuck you are saying in this song, then I won’t rape your wife at all. Nor will I print out t-shirts of her raped, beaten, lynched, burnt corpse. Because that would just be silly, wouldn’t it, Mr. Brad Paisley? That would just be silly and uncalled for. And maybe even rude. But even if it was rude, one of my ancestors could probably just do a duet with one of your ancestors, and that would almost be like making everything better. Right? My ancestors will just have to explain why your ancestors are being silly and, frankly, a little judgmental about that whole t-shirt of your wife’s raped, beaten, lynched, burnt corpse. Because apparently that’s how that works, you fucking dumbass.
And yes, I am aware that there was probably a nicer way for me to explain to you where I am coming from with all of this. But, in all honesty, considering that your confederate flag served as the banner for which an army of people who refused to continue being American waged war against American’s, leading to the bloodiest war on American soil in my country’s history, I consider it, not as a Black man, but as an American, a symbol of terrorism. And I have no pity for terrorists.
Also, Skynard (you know, the band that made a song with a message similar to what yours was trying for but did a much better job) stopped flying that flag because, while they still feel southern pride (which is certainly something you should always feel entitled to), they recognized the history of hate behind it and how it is still used to perpetrate and symbolize hate by those with less virtuous intentions for the damned thing. Go Fuck yourself.
To you, Mr. L.L. Cool J., I must simply ask: Why the fuck did you agree to do this?
First of all, who the fuck let you rap again? And who told you that you could do that to a country song? Are you aware that there are Black country stars, right? Black country stars who sing country music exist in this day and age, and your being a rapper just makes the whole bullshit, shark-jumping, ebony and ivory madness of this songs existence even worse. You and Mr. Brad Paisley may as well have shouted, “LOOK AT US CROSSING THE RACIAL DEVIDE IN THE MOST HEAVY HANDED WAY HUMANLY POSSIBLE” over and over and over again onto a recording, released it to the public, and called it a day.
Also, “If you don’t judge my do-rag, I won’t judge your red flag?” “If you don’t judge my, I’ll forget the iron chains?” What the fuck is that fuckery? First of all, that’s some bullshit Seussian nonsense. Second of all, those things are not at all comparable. Are you suggesting that if we forgive the ignorance of people taking pride in the culture that destroyed what was and could have been our culture, it’s fair for us to ask people to stop being racist? Because if the deal is that White people from the south can wear any t-shirt ever, and I, in return, am given legitimate social equality, then let’s do it. But, if that is not the deal, shut the fuck up and go sell sweatpants or whatever the fuck middle-aged rappers do.
The thing that bothers me the most is that this song really may have just gone away had you not decided to participate in it. Your presence in the song is specifically designed to have you serve as the voice of Black America. Because, you know, we all have the same voice. And usually Tyler Perry or Oprah speak for us, but I guess it’s nice that you tossed around words like “Mr. White Man,” and “saggin’,” and, “hood.” How novel of you. Thanks for that. Thanks for providing this song with a symbolic seal of approval from Blackness.
Fuck you. Go back to NCIS and stay there.
And I have to stop writing now, because this is a slew of really mean things to say. But also, I’m sick of this racist bullshit and I’m a twenty-something with a tumblr account. And why enact social change when you can write a whiney internet post about something from a bar before an open mic? I’m too lazy for real change. I just want .gifs, “microaggressions,” and the sound of my own voice blaring, unread, across my own private corner of the internet.
But anyways, fuck you guys. You’re music is really good other than this. But, you know, go fuck yourselves for this one.
I really enjoy any random thing you write - ranty rants, tweet clusters, movie reviews. You're quite the engaging writer, and I bet you're even funny when you do stand-up. If I had the power, I would offer you a job in jiffy, but since I'm at the bottom of my org's totem pole, it'll be a few more years. Also, you probably get this a lot, but I think you'd make bank writing okcupid profiles for other people. Just an idea. Thanks for the laughs and thought provocation - miranda
Thanks for even bothering to read anything I post here. That’s already more than I expected of anyone, and the fact that you enjoyed it enough to message me means a lot.
I wish you the best of luck with climbing up the totem pole. If you want to re-offer a position in a few years, I’ll probably still me unemployed. But, in the meanwhile, I’ll definitely look into the okcupid profile writing idea.
Thanks again for the kind words.
So do you just think Oberlin should have ignored the events and carried on business as usual? I agree with a lot of your points, but you seem to be suggesting that the school should have just ignored what was going on instead of attempting to address it.
I apologize for that. I wish you would have asked this in a way that allowed me to respond privately, but this draft was written rather hurriedly, and I am going through to make edits as people bring their concerns to me. I think the school did what was right. If one student felt unsafe or afraid or upset, then that alone is cause for a response. The school has a certain responsibility to the students, and while many of the charges today for what the school “should” do seem unrealistic, putting student safety first is a necessity. Mostly, I think that this should not have been made into a larger issue than it deserved to be, and that it’s a shame something that should have been presented as a comforting form of solace for those affected by the incident morphed into a mock-protest and a chance for others to use actual problems as a means to either climb a social ladder or pretend that psuedo-sincere solidarity is, in any way, the same as making a difference.