Is This America?


Childish Gambino has released a new song!

Jesse Zambrano, Staff Writer

Our Rating: A

On May 6, Donald Glover, whose stage name is Childish Gambino, released “This is America” while hosting “Saturday Night Live.” The music video, directed by Hiro Murai (a frequent contributor to Gambino’s show “Atlanta”), showcases some of the daily struggles that black Americans face, from racism to gruesome violence in America. However, most importantly, it exemplifies how gun violence affects the black community.

Since its release, many have wondered what the underlying meaning behind the dancing, facial expressions, guns and background chaos is. However, to really understand the meaning behind it all, one must watch the video with an open mind. In addition, the more times you watch the video, the more you will notice how the chaos blends into the background and is covered by Gambino and the other dancers. Gambino and the dancers are meant to serve as a pretty distraction from the violence that occurs in the background.

“I think he did an amazing job in getting people to talk about and face what is happening in our communities. Hopefully people will be more open to talking about these issues,” sophomore Alexa Riedmiller said.

To open the video, Gambino appears shirtless, dancing to the beat of the song in a rather intricate manner. He then strikes a particular pose, a pose that Twitter deems to be a pose that minstrel character Jim Crow would strike, while white Americans dressed in blackface mimic and mock black Americans as entertainment. Gambino then proceeds to shoot a man with a bag over his head and dances away. Later, he once again uses a gun, although this time he shoots an ensemble of singing choir members. This scene was possible inspired by the 2015 church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina.

As Gambino finds his way back into an open spaced warehouse, he dances with students as his backup dancers. While they dance, pure chaos is being unleashed in the background: people are fighting and jumping off ledges, police officers are running amok, and there seems to be what looks like the start of a fire. Although, there are other students filming the incidents on their cell phones, they are not getting involved. A man dressed in black then appears riding a white horse; Gambino continues to dance. The man is said to symbolize one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse from the New Testament’s book of Revelation: in the book, a man rides in a white horse while hell follows closely behind him. Could the chaos mean the death of our society? Gambino leaves this part to viewers’ personal interpretations.

In the last scene of the music video, Gambino runs down a very dark hallway while others follow him. However, his facial expression shows a fear in his eyes that is similar to the fear that was exemplified in Daniel Kaluuya’s expression in Jordan Peele’s “Get Out.” During the movie, Kaluuya’s facial expression showed absolute fear as he ran away from the family that held him captive and tried to mentally dissociate his own consciousness through hypnosis.

“Childish Gambino did an incredible job. I cannot stop listening to the song and I keep sharing it with friends,” sophomore Brooke Dickler said.

Overall, Gambino has done it again. He and his team released what can best be described as an eye-opening music video and song. He shows how gun violence affects the black community, and just how chaotic our world has become in the past few years. It is no secret the black community faces many hardships, a major one being gun violence. This video is meant to provide a better understanding of the struggles in a way that will reach millions of people and offer these same people an inside view into the mind of a young black man who is living in a chaotic America.