Donald Glover, also known as Childish Gambino, dropped an incredibly provocative music video on Saturday. "This is America" is a step away from the funkadelic vibes of Gambino's 2016 project Awaken, My Love! but is no less captivating. In his newest visual, Gambino expertly packs an analysis of a gun-loving America into four minutes.
Childish Gambino This is America video shows the American fabric is selling distractions and superficial livelihoods, while in reality avoiding those systematic issues that we ignore because it’s easier to live a lie than to confront the truth. pic.twitter.com/mWUE8XQUjR— Devon Jones-Stewart (@JonesStew1) May 7, 2018
The Hiro Murai-directed video is not one that you can simply watch once. With all of the video's stunning symbolism, "This is America" is best understood when watched multiple times. Luckily, a number of Gambino fans had time on Sunday to do some of the unpacking for us:
1. Guns are treated better than people.
As Gambino gently places his weapon in a red cloth, we see the shooting victim's dead body dragged off-screen. The implication that guns are more precious than a human life can be seen twice in the video. A very accurate representation of how black bodies are treated in the U.S.
2. The use of cell phones to record
"This a celly, that's a tool" - Childish Gambino
In the age of technology, cell phones have helped to bring violence and brutality to the forefront. Catching unjust treatment on camera has sparked a new flame within the hearts of many. Although cellphones should help stop violence against black people, Mashable mentioned the death of Stephon Clark, who was brutally murdered by police after his cell phone was mistaken for a weapon.
3. SZA makes a cameo appearance
Though she doesn't speak or sing, the "Love Galore" artist can be seen sitting in front of a group of old cars in a dress and Adidas slide sandals while rocking a half up and half down hairstyle. Some believe this hints of a future collaboration.
4. The use of the old cars
As Forbes explains, the luxury cars we are used to seeing in rap videos are strategically replaced with makes and models from the 1980s and '90s. Nothing is modern or new in the same way that this brutality is not a new concept. It could also pay homage to Philando Castile who was killed in 2016 by a police officer while in a 1997 Oldsmobile.
5. The use of dancing in the midst of chaos
Me when I realized that gambino's dance moves distracted me from all the craziness happening in the background and that's exactly the point he's trying to make... #ThisIsAmerica pic.twitter.com/ZlMxE2VwZV— Claudia Gonzales (@claudiag0292) May 6, 2018
Throughout the video, we see Gambino and a group of uniformed children killing popular dance moves. According to Forbes, this can be analyzed a few different ways:
1.They are clueless and dancing.
2. They have a clue and dance to keep from crying.
3. They are jamming for the camera or for social media video and know their dancing is a distraction, a salve or an invisibility cloak.
The dancers were not shot at or chased by police; rather, they seem to be enjoyed by everyone — possibly showing the way that black entertainment is appreciated by society, but black lives are not.
6. Is Gambino running from the sunken place?
I've watched it at least 77 times RT @AngelKhalil: Childish Gambino's "This Is America" he plays a Jim Crow caricature that shows plenty of symbolism through subtle nuances and direct distractions by entertaining through dance and trap lyricism. pic.twitter.com/G3ZmBbyof0— Same Ol' G (@MRGDII) May 7, 2018
Gambino's "Redbone" has become associated with Jordan Peele's Get Out after the song was used in the Oscar-winning film's opening. Throughout the song, Gambino continuously tells us to "stay woke." At the end of "This Is America," he can be seen running from a tunnel of darkness being chased by a variety of what seem to be non-black people, while Young Thug sings in the background. Many have theorized this is him running out of the sunken place of desensitization, which can be interpreted as the process to becoming woke.