Human Interest International Pop Culture Racism

Childish Gambino’s Vision of America

Here’s a break down the politics behind the music and why it matters.

Sandra Bellamy

Naked Politics Blogger 

From Beyonce’s unapologetically black performance at the music festival Coachella, to Kanye West ranting on TMZ, these days music artists seem to have a lot to say about politics.

Childish Gambino’s latest music video is no exception. The release of This is America caused a wave of political commentary and has been viewed over 3 million times. Here’s a break down the politics behind the music and why it matters.

1.) There’s a huge contrast between the way the guns and black people are treated in the video

In the music video he uses guns on two occasions, once to shoot a black man with a sack over his head and the other to massacre an all-black choir. Each time the gun is carefully collected and taken away. But distressingly, the black bodies are dragged away across the floor as though they are objects. The all black choir is also likely to be a reference to the mass shooting in Charleston when nine black members of a church were killed in a violent gun attack. Gambino even shoots one individual in a Jim Crow pose that is a clear reference to America’s ongoing issues with racism.

America protects very tightly citizen’s rights to own guns, even in the face of continuous gun violence and mass shootings. Yet when it comes to black lives, they are treated as disposable and unimportant.

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2) The video consistently goes from horribly shocking, to light and happy

There is never any recognition of the gun violence. When it happens, the video immediately switches to Donald happily dancing with school kids. It’s likely Childish Gambino is making a point about America’s reluctance to confront it’s issues with gun violence, particularly against black americans and just sweep over the issues almost as though nothing had happened.

Perhaps people cope with the almost daily incidents of gun violence by consuming endless memes and shallow entertainment to distract each other from the incredibly difficult social issues facing America.

Even whilst Donald Glover is dancing, there is always chaos occurring in the background, but you’re encouraged to focus on the dancing, not the deeper issues under the surface.

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3) Black culture is praised whilst black lives are treated as worthless

Black american culture is incredibly popular and enjoyed by people of all colours. Yet black lives appear to mean very little. Behind the scene of Gambino and the children dancing (a dance called gwara-gwara from South Africa) there’s chaos, with allusions made to police brutality and various other injustices. America loves black culture, but does little to protect the systemic discrimination and injustice that black people often face.

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This music video is a visual masterpiece that packs so much unmissable political commentary into just a few minutes. It might not solve the issues of gun violence and racism anytime soon, but it highlights such important issues that we should all be talking about.

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