Over the weekend Donald Glover also known as Childish Gambino broke the internet with the release of his new single “This is America” that first premiered on SNL.
“This is America” marks the artist’s first release since his 2016 album Awaken My Love, which featured his hit single “Redbone.”
The music video references significant events within black culture and history. The video displays well-choreographed moments amongst scenes of gun violence, physical harm and suicide. Both the lyrics and the visuals speak on violence and race relations within the U.S..
As much as you want to watch shirtless Gambino dance you have to pay close attention to the things happening in the background. Directed by “Atlanta” director Hiro Murai, the video is packed with tons of themes and hidden messages.
You’ll need to watch it more than once but here are some themes and theories fans have unpacked.
A lot of fans questioned why Glover danced around shirtless, in the video he wears a gold chain necklace and trousers that give off a ’70s vibe. Glover’s look appeared to be inspired by Fela Kuti, a Nigerian musician dubbed “Africa’s answer to Handel” by one arts critic.
Throughout the video firearms are seen with a handful of brutalities. Some believe the guns are displayed to portray how firearms are treated with more respect than human lives. In the opening scene Glover is seen shooting someone execution style and the gun is carried off delicately and the bodies is seen being dragged away.
The video points out consistent presence of firearms when it comes to acts of terror. In the scene where the church members were singing, some believe it could be a reflection of the 2015 Charleston Church Massacre and to portray recent mass shootings.
The beginning stance when Glover was seen shooting at the man in the chair could represent the Jim Crow Era- which legally enforced racial segregation in the South.
The significance of dancing
The video includes many references to several mainstream dances popular in both the U.S. and across Africa. The dancing was used as a distraction from the rioting or whatever was going on in the background. The world runs in cycles, something tragic happens, people care for a little bit and the next big “thing” comes out and people forget all about it.
In the Bible, Revelations 6:8 (KJV) reads: “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and the name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.” According to the scripture, there was a scene where death was riding a pale white horse and is followed by police officers representative of Hell which went totally unnoticed because of the dancing in the foreground.
In the final scene Glover is seen being chased by white people which might be suggesting the intrusion of white supremacy into the life of a black man. The references to the sunken place is that marginalized people are aware of the violence that surround them but are powerless to stop it.