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.