Pet Sounds is not a racist text, but its impact was racist because it further encoded rock as a white genre, perpetuating the institutionalized prejudice that relegated African Americans to the margins of rock.
The often overlooked The Beach Boys Today! (1965) finds Brian Wilson and the rest of the band embracing the sophisticated musical experimentation we would later find on Pet Sounds while retaining the catchy accessibility of their early surf and car songs.
“When I Grow Up to Be a Man” is about envisioning the past. It was written by a 23-year-old who imagined a 13-year-old imagining what it was like to be 23. This is still the position the septuagenarian Beach Boys are in today -- looking back at their younger selves looking forward to a future that is not the present, an impossible future.