“This is America” is a Masterpiece

By: Jeremiah Bonnet (Sports Editor)

On May 6th, Donald Glover, more formally known as Childish Gambino, released what has been regarded as a masterpiece, in ‘This is America’. In this single, Gambino explores America’s current state in terms of gun violence and the discrepancy between white and black in modern-day America.

There are many hidden messages in the music video that are revealed to its viewers.

The song begins with an upbeat vocal section, where he repeats “we just want to party, party just for you,” hinting at how easily distracted Americans are, and how we avoid the tragic conflicts we currently endure.

This section also represent African American culture, which is dominated by partying, music, and dance. It is the method African Americans use to distract themselves from the difficult life they live in modern day America.

The beat suddenly takes on an aggressive, blunt and “in your face” impression. Gambino begins the verse by saying “This is America”. In this scene in the accompanying music video, Gambino shoots an innocent African American guitarist. After being shot, the black man falls off of the chair, and Gambino cautiously places the gun he had used in a velvet red cloth.

This is meant to symbolize the amount of significance Americans place on guns, specifically the Republican Party, hence the red cloth. The protection of the Second Amendment right at the cost of innocent lives is the conflict Gambino attempts to disclose. Americans are quick to deny any restriction on guns; however, there are lives being taken. Life is a one time thing, and should be valued as so, but Americans seem to think otherwise.

Additionally, at the 2:44 mark, the music stops, and commences again at the 3:01 mark, leaving a 17 second period of silence in the middle of the song, paying tribute to the 17 lives lost at Stoneman Douglas High School. Another subtle, yet meaningful message incorporated into the song.

Moving on, the black man is given no attention after being shot. He falls off the chair is instantly forgotten. After tragedies related to gun violence, Americans mourn and forget. This also hints at the lack of respect and attention given to African Americans in America.  

In the chorus, after the line “This is America,” Gambino says “Don’t catch you slippin up,” and when he shoots the black man, he copies the stance of the old Jim Crow caricature. This hints at the aspect of racism portrayed in the video.

There is another instance in the video where Gambino makes a freakish grin at the camera, which is a reference to the minstrel shows that took place in the 19th and early 20th century, which portrayed African Americans in a negative way. African Americans were perceived as filthy clowns. They had black faces, bright red lips, a large foolish smile, and tattered clothing.

Again, Gambino makes a reference to the struggle African Americans face in modern day America.

Gambino’s song has been surrounded by lots of controversy. There are likes and dislikes, but a point that can be agreed upon by both sides is the genius implementation of current American societal problems. Gambino brings light to racism, mental illness, and the current gun epidemic throughout the video in a crafty and memorable manner.

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