The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024

Brad Paisley enforces southern white stereotype with ‘racist’ joke at CMAs

(Courtesy of

The annual Country Music Association awards night on Wednesday sparked some unexpected controversy during the show.

Singers Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley got some laughs by pitching jokes about fellow singer and songwriter Taylor Swift, Ebola and the midterm elections.

Underwood discussed Swift’s leave from the country world.

She described Swift’s transition caused country artists to have “Postpartum Taylor Swift Disorder,” or PPTSD.

Paisley was quick to respond, saying “President Obama does not care about Postpartum Taylor Swift Disorder,” leading Underwood to reply with, “I’m pretty sure that’s why the Democrats lost the senate.”

The second after Underwood delivered her line cheering ensued.

After the playful banter, the twosome performed a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” retitled “Quarantine,” referring to the Ebola outbreak in the U.S.

The crowd roared.

Paisley delivered the last crack, informing viewers that the ABC show ‘Black-ish’ would not be airing because of the CMAs.

“If you were expecting to see the show ‘Black-ish,’ this ain’t it,” he said. “In the meantime I hope you’re enjoying ‘White-ish.'”

His comment fueled social media users across the blogosphere.

Users on Twitter and Youtube went at it. Half calling Paisley racist; the other half defending the singer and claiming a “double standard” for white and blacks.

A few responses on Twitter are as follows:

“Rule #1: if you have to ask someone if the joke seemed racist, it probably was racist #BradPaisley.”

“Anyone saying that the joke from @BradPaisley was racist…’re a moron. Goodnight. #lightenup #notracist #BradPaisley.”

“Brad Paisley just confirmed that country music is racist with that racist joke about ‘Black-ish’.”

“Brad Paisley’s joke wasn’t racist, but the country music fans claiming that “Blackish” is the real problem here are.”

Personally, I didn’t find the joke to be considerably racist. I do think it was an unnecessary quip, but there was no malicious intent coming from Paisley when he delivered it.

I believe three reasons contributed to the backlash regarding Paisley’s joke.

First, it was not the joke that was extremely offensive, but rather the behavior of the audience. The hoots and hollers people gave after the delivery only promoted the acceptance and encouragement of controversial comments in a professional and public setting.

Second, the demographic of country musicians and fans is primarily white. Country music lovers and singers often exude distinct pride for being from the South. The “redneck” stereotype that has been paired with the music genre has led avid fans and singers to stick to their guns and defend any sort of attack on the ol’ home front.

Last, with Paisley’s backlash earlier this year on his song titled ‘Accidental Racist,’ his “white-ish” dig did not help his image. The song co-written by Paisley and LL Cool J tried to explain the “state of race relations and offer different perspectives.” According to Billboard, “each managed to anger critics with lyrics that were dissected in the blogosphere.” However, the intention of the song was drowned out by listeners claiming the country singer is a racist.

Bottom line: Paisley didn’t mean any harm when telling a scripted joke. The unnecessary adverse reaction by viewers only continues to promote the Southern stereotype that every person who listens to these artists are “racist hicks.” This mentality and categorization of people should not continue despite the innate reaction to do so.

It is only with a better understanding of an unfamiliar topic can people learn to not maliciously judge others. It would also help if people learned how to take a joke.

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