In 2013, LL Cool J and Brad Paisley collaborated on a song about the history of race in America. A hip-hop-country collaboration, the song was an attempt to bridge the void that exists in American culture. That they used a song to speak about the historical antecedents of the gap reflects the importance of pop music and its ability to communicate important ideas about race. Paisley’s lyrics explain that although he is a white Southerner, he is more than the stereotype. LL Cool J agrees with the idea that race is much deeper than skin color. He urges folks on the other side to look beyond his doo rag and promises not to judge the red/Confederate flag. There is the hope in these lyrics that in the twenty-first century the American society has reached or should have reached a point at which people are viewed by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin. This is an ideal that is both lovely and lofty, a notion that has dominated the rhetoric of the great twentieth-century civil rights leaders. Within the context of the United States, race is a natural occurrence. Cornel West explains that “without the presence of black people in America, European-Americans would not be “white”—they would be Irish, Italians, Poles, Welsh, and other engaged in class, ethnic, and gender struggles over resources and identity” (Race Matters, 107).
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