Donald Glover, known famously as Childish Gambino, stunned fans after the release of his new song and music video, “This is America.” Directed by Hiro Murai, the video features a multitude of symbols and metaphors that relate to the past and present of American society.
The video creatively tackles gun violence, police brutality, inequality and white supremacy. While the video is graphic, it does a good job on portraying the violence that exists in many communities.
The upbeat rhythm juxtaposes the deeper meaning of the song. This contradiction is most apparent with the use of a church choir vocals. Normally a joyful sound, Glover uses the choir to recreate the 2015 shooting of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
After watching the music video, I was shocked to see Glover recreate the horrific shooting, but it serves as a reminder that white supremacy still exists in our society.
The scene also shows that guns have a large impact in our communities. Whenever Glover shoots a gun, he gently places it down in the hands of another black man. His carefulness placing the gun points to the fact that there are people who value guns above human lives.
The significance that he places with the gun in the hands of another black man acts as a reminder that violent actions of one black man are commonly associated with another. Between both of the scenes, I found the message to be incredibly impactful.
Among the most noticeable aspects of the video is Glover’s dancing. The dancing draws similarities to “Jump Jim Crow”, a racially insensitive dance of the Jim Crow era. The dancing distracts from the riots and gang violence taking place around him.
The distraction betokens media misdirection. This comes after criticism of media outlets using incidents in predominantly black communities for political purposes.
There should be a focus on a majority of issues for the sake of humanity, not politics. There should be a push to reform both gun laws and police departments.
As Glover dances, a group of kids huddle around him despite the violence. The kids are not fazed by what they see and continue to follow his bizarre dance moves. Glover represents America throughout the video. He represents the shootings and inequality that exist. He also represents the racism and brutality, but he acts as a symbol for change.
Towards the end of the video, Glover dances on the roof of an older car. The car acts as a reminder that many things in predominantly black communities haven’t changed in a long time. Another call to action from Glover.
The decision to film the video inside a warehouse acts as a metaphor itself. The warehouse is a contained space to help display how many African Americans’ voices are not normally heard beyond their immediate communinites.
The video ends with Glover running from a crowd of angry people, who are meant to symbolize white supremacy. The scene closely resembles Jordan Peele’s “Get Out”, a satirical horror movie about the effects of white supremacy. The comparison between the Academy Award winning movie and music videos help evolve the effect of Glover’s message.
While the message can be up for debate, the music video serves as a reminder of issues people have to deal with daily.
Glover implies that gun control is not as simple as banning a gun and there is a larger underlying issue that should be fixed. While there are incidents where the police are at fault, the police are typically defenders of all people.
This video should be reflected on, no matter your political views. It serves as a call to arms for reform, something we need in society. We have an opportunity to fix the system to where opportunities are not restricted by zip code.
The video deserves awards and praise. It not only suceeds as a piece of art, it suceeds in impacting countless people. The video gives all of us a chance to reflect and ask ourselves, what went wrong? What could we do better? What do we have to change?
Whatever changes are necessary, there is work to be done in all of our communities, especially those ravaged with violence. In order for anything to change though, we all need to come to the table and act as a community for once. And despite the issues we have, “This is America” and I know we can and will overcome.