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Professors jump on anti-Jason Aldean bandwagon: ‘coded,’ ‘anti-Black’ messages

‘It’s part of the founding of our country’

More professors have jumped on the anti-Jason Aldean bandwagon, calling his song “Try That in a Small Town” racially “coded” and “implicitly anti-Black.”

Hunter College’s Philip Ewell, a music theory professor who earlier this year called his black Communist father a “racist” for admiring classic white composers like Beethoven and Bach, said Aldean’s song is “part of a phenomenon of subtle yet unmistakable ‘anti-Blackness.’”

Ewell told The Hollywood Reporter (via Fox News) that while he thinks Aldean is a “pretty good artist,” America’s racial history “plays out in these extremely subtle ways sometimes.”

“[I]t’s just something that kind of comes out in culture, anti-Blackness,” Ewell, who researches “race studies in music theory” among other topics, said. “Because it’s part of the founding of our country. We shouldn’t run away from that simple fact.”

Ewell added that images where “someone’s robbing a liquor store” implies the crook is a black guy: “It’s just in our minds. It’s supposed to be that way […] the owner of a liquor store is probably Asian or maybe white. And there are these racial stereotypes that play out in lyrics like this.”

MORE: Prof: Country music facilitates ‘reproduction of racial and gender inequalities’

Donald R. CusicBelmont University’s Don Cusic (pictured), “one of the premier historians of country music” according to his faculty page, agreed with Ewell, saying the images in “Try That in a Small Town” are racially “coded” despite the fact that rioters shown are of multiple races.

Cusic “theorized” that Aldean (or those behind the production of the song’s video) were “deliberately subtle, yet purposeful” in their message: “They knew what they were doing […] instead of taking some of the bricks off the top of the wall, I think Aldean added some bricks to that wall, or at least the video did.”

He added that “people who are Trump supporters are looking at it a lot differently than intelligentsia.”

Last month, Professor Minoa Uffelman of Austin Peay State University claimed Aldean’s song is a “white nationalist call for vigilante violence presented as benevolent a small-town community protecting its values.”

Uffelman also said “Small Town’s” lyrics of “sucker punch somebody on the sidewalk” are based on an “urban myth” of blacks “slugging unsuspecting pedestrians.”

MORE: Student op-ed: Country music is ‘toxic trash’ that ‘hyper-sexualizes young women’

IMAGES: Jason Aldean/YouTube; Belmont University

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.