Childish Gambino releases political music video for “This is America”


Palm Beach Post

Donald Glover, a.k.a. Childish Gambino.

On May 5, Childish Gambino, a.k.a Donald Glover, debuted his new single “This is America” on Saturday Night Live. The music video was released May 6 and received overall positive feedback. The song is currently No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

Gambino’s video has been widely lauded for the meanings hidden within, having to do with both the lyrics and the images.

The video opens in a warehouse with a black man sitting in a chair strumming a guitar. The camera pans to where Gambino is standing, shirtless, wearing pants and shoes reminiscent of Confederate-era uniforms. He dances over to where the man is, who now has a sack over his head. Gambino is handed a gun, and, striking a Jim Crow-esque pose, shoots the man in the head. His body is dragged off, and the gun is carefully handed to someone off-screen.

This is just the beginning of a series of unsettling symbolism showing the racism in modern day America.

Gambino also walks in on a black church choir singing, and, while at first joyfully dancing, he quickly shifts to a poker face, grabbing a rifle from off-screen and massacring the chorus, mimicking the Charleston church shooting.

Gambino is seen dancing with black schoolchildren. They perform several African American dances, as well as the South African Gwara Gwara. They continue to dance despite the violence surrounding them, and are even meant to distract the viewer from the violence. For instance, in one scene, a dark cloaked figure, meant to represent death, is seen riding a white horse, a Christian symbol of the apocalypse.

Finally, Gambino is seen surrounded by old American sedans with singer SZA, before the scene shifts to him running in a now dark warehouse, being pursued by white people.

With his song, Gambino is showing the dichotomy many black people are forced to face in America: the love and appropriation of black culture and the racism and systematic oppression.

Gambino alludes to police brutality, shootings and unfair imprisonments black Americans often endure.

The success of “This is America” marked Gambino’s biggest hit in his career, even surpassing his 2017 single “Redbone.” Although he plans for this to be his last album under the Childish Gambino moniker, he will be staying in pop culture’s eye for a while with his movie Solo, coming out May 25.