The other day I was listening to the radio and they were talking about Childish Gamino’s new music video “This is America”. They also mentioned that he is Donald Glover which I did not know. I was immidiately intrigued. Donald Glover which I did not know. I was immediately intrigued.
When I got home I looked up his video and go the SNL version unfortunately. I was still impressed at Donald Glover’s visuals. I had no idea this actor was so creative. Then I saw the original video…
My first feeling was disgust. Donald Glover with his shirt off, unkept hair, and crazed look in his eyes. He reminded me of the homeless black men I have seen on the streets. The image represents something… I hate for deeply personal reasons.
Looking at Donald Glover… I mean Childish Gamino in this video through another lens he became not that which I really dislike but a parody of how other people see US. And when I mean us I mean black men. The way he danced, and posed bringing up images of Jim Crow even though Jim Crowe was so far from my mind I could not make the connection until I saw other YouTube videos dissecting his. The casualness of his violent antics in the video and how children followed him around made him seem like the Pied Piper.
The character Childish Gamino played in the video was evil, manipulative, and seemingly in control while at the same time poking fun at black stereotypes. It’s as if he was saying “this is what you think I am and for that I will be that… but on the real, this is ridiculous, you’re ridiculous”.
In the end though, after Childish Gambino’s character has his fun with concepts of America and its relationship with black people you find him seemingly running for his life. His eyes wide as if death itself were following behind him.
The final image reminded me of all the black men fleeing lynch mobs. I think of the black men fleeing from imprisonment by a system where cops are caught on camera planting drugs in their car. I think of the black men fleeing poverty in a system that on the one hand demands they get a job and on the other hand refuses to hire them.
Donald Glover… that was a lot to unpack.