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Opinion: Why can't country music deal with race?
LZ Granderson would've preferred Montgomery Gentry sing the original lyrics to "Some People Change."
November 8th, 2011
10:30 AM ET

Opinion: Why can't country music deal with race?

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com and the 2009 winner of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation award for online journalism. Follow him on Twitter at @locs_n_laughs

Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) - On November 8, 1965, 48 American soldiers lost their lives during "Operation Hump" after the 400 men of the 173 Airborne Brigade were ambushed by roughly 1,200 Viet Cong fighters.

I did not learn about this battle from a history book or teacher in school, but rather a popular country song - "The 8th of November" by the duo Big and Rich.

Whenever someone asks me why I love country music, I think of songs like that one, and Tim McGraw's "If You're Reading This," and the Dixie Chicks' "Traveling Soldier" - each with lyrics that capture the toll war has taken on this nation's soul.

Now, it would be disingenuous of me to pretend a black guy from Detroit listening to country is the norm. It's not, and I know it.

But I'm not trying to be something that I'm not.

Read LZ Granderson's commentary

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Filed under: Race • What we think
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Why Use Facts

    I don't see anything in the article about Country Music not dealing with race, it is about a black person having trouble dealing with others who don't understand his like of Country Music. Country Music does fine dealing with race, it ignores race which is what I thought we should all be doing.

    December 7, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Brian Jones

    "Welcome to the future" Brad Paisley

    November 29, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Charlie

    Why can't LZ Granderson deal with race?

    November 29, 2011 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
  4. Craig

    Holy crap LZ Granderson, you would try to make a story about a kitten playing with a puppy about race.

    November 26, 2011 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  5. Illuminati

    The best songs about race are by Johnny Rebel

    November 26, 2011 at 7:42 am | Report abuse |
  6. Illuminati

    Try "Reuben James" by Kenny Rogers

    November 26, 2011 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |
  7. Illuminati

    Race matters.
    Proud to be WHITE.

    November 26, 2011 at 6:50 am | Report abuse |
    • claire

      How does race matter to you? Because it's what 'those' people over 'there' have right? Race matters to you as long as you dont have to be a part of the group that has 'race'. White people like you, disgust me!!!

      November 29, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
      • Tom

        God forbid that a white person should declare, in public, they are proud to be white. Meanwhile, blacks just LOVE to shove it in your face how "proud" they are to be black, colored, black, African American, black, whatever the catch phrase is that makes them, and the flaming Liberals who keep them down, happy this week. I have seen more racism in my 42 years for being white than most of the blacks of this generation have experienced. How? NAACP, blacks all over America constantly calling whites the people who keep them down, I can't say the N word, but boy do you hear racial slurs tossed about any time a black person gets mad at a white person.

        Call it like it is. Those of us who are classified as white who simply could care less what your race may be are the majority now. NOT the minority. I care MUCH more about what a person can contribute to make this country better and the sad fact is, blacks aren't up to that task by and large. They're all about making money regardless of if it's legal or hurting others, the whole time talking about "Praise the Lord!"

        What a joke black America has become.

        December 3, 2011 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  8. David, Tampa

    Yeah Yeah Yeah. Make a wrong turn onto 22nd street in Tampa and tell me that you don't think about race.

    November 22, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. kelly

    This is so dramatic. Why be mad at country singers because they don't talk about race? It's not their job. Besides, if they did talk about race then they would be admonished for being stereotypical southern racists. Leave them alone and let them continue to write music about Georgia peaches, America, and southern charm.

    November 21, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boston Dawg

      I am not responding to you directly, you just happened to have posted last but what I want to say is that it is amazing to me in 2011 that some people make race the most important thing they can possibly think about..... why don't country musicians deal with racism? THEY DON"T CARE ABOUT RACE, the overwhleming vast majority of Americans don't care about race.... what they do care about is 70% of blacks are born out of wedlock and are totally irresponsible and the most racist people in the country but of course we are not supposed to use stereotypes when describing them while they do everything they can conceivably think about to perpetuate those very stereotypes..... why doesn't country music address racism? they could not care less..... stop thrusting it in everyone's face, stop dropping out of high school at a 50% rate, stop birthing almost three quarters of your children out of wedlock, pull your pants up and grow up.

      November 22, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
      • JARED

        Wow, you just did a whole lot of generalizing for someone who "doesn't care" about race...

        November 22, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
      • karson west

        Reply to Jared, how is he generalizing? Facts are black people drop out of school, facts are they have their children out of wedlock and almost NEVER are seen with their pants pulled up. Overall I think he stated more Objective information than Subjective ..Good Job Boston Dawg!

        November 26, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
      • claire

        He's generalizing because he probably has not opened a sociology book in his entire life. Yes African Americans have children out of wedlock but guess what, so does every other race/ethnicity. In fact, Anglo's arent that far away from them. And yes they drop out of high school, but guess what so does every other race/ethnicity. In fact, hispanics have the lowest educational attainment, (I am a hispanic woman and also a college junior) Also to address your other completely racist comment that 'they are irresponsible', my god what race is NOT IRRESPONSIBLE. I suggest you go to college or if you did I suggest you go to a better college and enroll yourself in a sociology class so you stop making these completely racist generalizations.

        November 29, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. smith Donaldson

    Ray Charlles and Isaac Hayes both loved and recorded country music if that says anything. Soul and country music have a lot of common ancestry. Preoccupations with race. They are like the appendix of American style Western culture. We all came out of Africa ultimatley. Deal with it. The color of skin you happen to possess is a function of where your forebears hung their hat for a good chunk of the last 10000 years in relation to the amount of sunlight needed to not get skin cancer but still provide enough vitamin D not to get rickets. Geographic cultural aspects are very often tied to skin color but not exclusively so.

    November 21, 2011 at 4:53 am | Report abuse |
  11. abel mendoza

    Charles, why are you so defensive? And naming calling?, man, sounds like you have a chip on your shouder. God Bless you and GOD BLESS AMERICA!

    November 20, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Judith

    Charlie Pride, Darius Rucker,,,,,,just for starters,,,, you don't TALK about race,,, you just pretty much accept people as people, and the "race" thing doesn't exist....Obviously you who think Country Music doesn't deal with it know NOTHING about Country Music or the people who write, sing and enjoy it. Your ignorance is what keeps race a problem...

    November 14, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  13. jim

    Artists don't touch the topic of race because:
    1) The vast majority of country music buyers are white
    2) The white demographic does not want to hear it or be preached to about race
    3) Artists want to sell music

    November 11, 2011 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  14. tiredahhearinit

    all "country" music sounds the same,and all the "performers" aint country...they look alike,sound alike as well as the cookie cutter music they pawn off on the public.. there are enough people to buy it proving that ther are alot of people that are "musically challenged"........why do people want to sit in front of the boob tube and watch a bunch of inflated egos pat themselves on the back and tell everyone how great they are,and how lucky we are to be allowed to watch them do it.thank god for cable and multiple channels.

    November 10, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jim Rousch

    Come to think of it, Megadeth and S.O.D. have also addressed racial issues. It would be nice of anyone in the world of country music would do the same. Must be that North-South "thang."

    November 10, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Jim Rousch

    The reason why country music doesn't address the issue of race is because most of those involved in that genre simply don't want to. To do so would cause them to admit the horrors inflicted upon African-Americans since the days before the Revolution when Thomas Jefferson wrote that all men were equal.

    IAnthrax (among other metal bands!) definitely HAVE addressed the issue. Then again, Anthrax is from New York, one of the hotbeds of LIBERALISM.

    November 10, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Moranski

    I love country music, yet I've never thought of why race isn't addressed, yet I'm so happy to see Darius Rucker enter this venue, yet it's not his duty to address your topic. I would love to hear my favorite artist Keith Urban or Blake Shelton write some beautiful song about the beauty of all cultures. Also add Jennifer Nettles of SUGARLAND, with. Her lovely voice, trust me the music is younger and fresher and we will witness soon a new transformation of sound and lyrics.

    November 8, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |