While Kanye West sent the internet into a rage after giving his thoughts on slavery, Childish Gambino released a music video that turned heads, showing his true thoughts on America and it's policies.
He took the internet by storm this weekend with the release of his new single This Is America and its accompanying music video loaded with frightful images of black oppression and gun violence. The video is tactfully packed with so many messages, taking it all in would mean that we would have to break it down to uncover the true horror behind the violence displayed in the video. Many fans are proclaiming the rapper, whose real name is Donald Glover, one of the most important voices of this generation.
These are some of the interpretations of the videos from fans posted on Twitter:
The whole video takes place in a dull warehouse which is said to represent the foundation of America that has been built on systematic white supremacy and oppression, shown by the off-white coloured beams. The opening scene reveals Childish Gambino wearing 70's style pants and a gold chain around his neck, similar to Fela Kuti's attire, a Nigerian musician dubbed “Africa’s answer to Handel” by one art critic. Other fans attributed the style of the pants to those worn as part of the Confederate soldier's uniform.
Throughout the video, Gambino does a short African dance including Shoki and Gwara Gwara with a small group of school children. Some fans interpreted the dance occurring to distract people from the chaos unfolding in the background pointing to the fact that dance trends can distract from the life-or-death situations affecting black communities. @Cpaw2 tweeted: “Childish Gambino’s #ThisIsAmerica spoke to me as a black South African woman, women being hunted and killed while society does the gwara gwara.”
Several scenes featured Gambino shooting people and each time he shoots the gun, someone runs up to wrap the gun in cloth and take it away, completely ignoring the dead body. This shows America's compliance with protecting gun rights in place of acknowledging the danger it puts people in. The number of times gunshots are heard throughout the video shows the alarmingly high rate of gun violence with @Shugah tweeting: “Because this is America. We shoot up schools, churches, each other and then we place the guns tenderly in a cloth to protect them. And then we dance.”
One reference most fans missed was a man jumping from the top of a balcony in the warehouse, to his death while Gambino and the school children dance in the foreground, which makes reference to the stigma attached to mental health issues. It shows how society is refusing to acknowledge the growing problem of mental health issues. Halfway through the video, Gambino enters the room where a black church choir is singing. He is thrown an assault rifle with he turns towards the choir, shooting all of the members. This represents the 2015 mass shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in which a white gunman killed nine black churchgoers. @EmanThatKid commented: “He shows how mass shootings are normalized in America, even if you shooting up a place of worship.”
In one of the scenes, a group of black teenagers are seen recording the chaotic events on their phones with their mouths covered to show the increasing number of viral videos of police brutality and racist encounters that are used as an alternative form of speaking out while black citizens are silenced in a white supremacist system. “Kids are seen recording everything on their phones, referencing the use of livestreams in police shootings as a means of documenting and sharing the truth,” tweeted @thelocalemo. “Gambino’s lyrics state, ‘this is a celly, that’s a tool.’”
Towards the end of the video, a long shot is captured of Gambino dancing on top of a red car surrounded by other empty cars with their hazard lights on to signify the black men that are often killed by police officers during traffic stops. Other fans took it as a symbol of the stagnant progress of socioeconomic and political versatility of black people in America.
The end of the video resembles the closing scene of the movie “Get Out” as Childish Gambino attempts to escape the warehouse. It represents “the Sunken Place” seen in the 2017 film, the mental space where the main character Chris is trapped after he’s been brainwashed, unable to control his body. “The Sunken Place means we’re marginalized,” Jordan Peele, the movie’s director, explained on Twitter in March 2017. “No matter how hard we scream, the system silences us.” Daniel Kaluuya, who played Chris in “Get Out,” introduced Childish Gambino’s performance of “This Is America” on “Saturday Night Live”.
While the video is pretty chaotic, making it difficult to spot every reference, it's very clear that Childish Gambino wanted to send a strong message to the world about what is really going on in America behind the smoke screens.