Been 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…
In 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?
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..
Now 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