The history of ‘Accidental Racist’ is the history of how white Southern musicians — heatedly, implicitly, at times self-servingly and not always successfully — try to talk about who they are in answer to what others dismissively assume they are.

Eric Weisbard on Brad Paisley’s “Accidental Racist” and the history of white Southern musical identity
(via nprmusic)

I’ve been watching the high and mighty of Twitter battle it over this song since yesterday (and kept quiet about it). And while I understand some the major problems put forward by the well-meaning “Accidental Racist,” as an adopted Southerner, I kindly ask you read this thoughtful history of Southern musicians dealing with race issues. There’s a weird nuance to this place, tied up in grudges and hate and sometimes small victories, which is plucked and prodded each time “some crazy backward” thing happens (see: Chick-fil-a, outsiders telling Southerners what’s right, etc.). Doesn’t excuse the behavior — just saying, it’s complicated.
When people ask me to explain the South, I usually don’t have an answer beyond saying it’s too big, complex, and varied to pin down easily—or at all. If I’m asked about our editorial mission, I say it is to “explore the South,” which is meant to convey a few things, including that we don’t expect or claim to know everything about the South. Who can know everything about it? The South keeps changing and surprising even as it’s studied. … If Garden & Gun just stuck to its, well, Pistils & Pistols, and merely revealed, with freshened-up accuracy, which elite group it is that they serve (versus claiming that they speak for all), even my snarkiness would dissipate. Such directness on their part wouldn’t even have to be costly—or sweeping. It could be achieved with a tweaking of the motto that appears on every G&G cover. This motto debuted in 2007 as “21st Century Southern America.” Then it was changed to: “Soul of the New South.” Then it was changed to: “Soul of the South.” Change it one last time and the truth shall set us free. Change it to: “The Soul of the Old South.”