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10 Songs About Racism That Don’t Suck

By now you’ve no doubt heard Brad Paisley and LL Cool J’s thoroughly bewildering “Accidental Racist,” and wondered how in God’s name we live in a world where this song exists. We guess the sentiment is laudable enough, in its own cack-handed way — ultimately, it’s a plea for mutual understanding and racial reconciliation, which is something we can get behind, even if it is couched in curiously passive-agressive language and non-apologies — but boy is it ever both a) weird and b) plain old bad. In the spirit of the song’s message, though, here are a bunch of songs about racism that actually make for vaguely pleasurable (if often sad and chastening) listening experiences.

Nina Simone — “Mississippi Goddam”

A howl of exasperation and frustration at the state of the South in the mid-1960s, written as a response to the firebombing of a church and the murder of civil rights activist Medgar Evers. The song was hugely controversial, predictably enough, and the fact that its release led to a boycott of Simone’s records was at least part of the reason why she left the USA for Europe and Africa in 1974.