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“This Is America” Video Takes Nation by Storm

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Credit: Vevo.

Credit: Vevo.

Credit: Vevo.

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On May 5, 2018, Donald Glover took the Internet by storm with the release of his new single and accompanying music video, “This Is America.” Since its premiere, it has accumulated over 35 million views (at press time) on Youtube.

Though Glover, popularly known as Childish Gambino, is a famous rapper in his own right, the  reason the video is garnering mass attention is because of its multiple references to the current social and political climate in America.

Here are some of the video’s most talked about references, in order of appearance.

The setting of the video is a drab and desolate warehouse with multiple white support beams. Some viewers interpreted this as a representation that America is built on systematic racism and white supremacy.

“Much of this seems to take place in a building/warehouse where the foundation and support systems (the beams) are mostly white,” tweeted @JarridGreen.

Within the first few seconds of the four-minute long video, Glover  expresses his take on the racial divide in America. Racial tensions have been growing due to recent events involving white supremacists, such as the Charlottesville, Virginia KKK rally in July 2017.

Also, Glover appears shirtless, wearing gray pants. A Twitter user was quick to point out the similarity between the singer’s wardrobe and Confederate army uniforms.

“Can we talk about how @donaldglover is wearing confederate army pants?” tweeted @the_tumblebug.

The video progresses, with Glover soon pulling out a gun and shooting a man in the back of the head. As he does this, Glover refers to the familiar “Jim Crow pose.”

Jim Crow was a character that stereotypically represented black culture in minstrel songs. In the 19th century, it was used as an offensive term for African-Americans, and later became associated with the oppressive laws that enforced racial segregation in America.

After shooting the man, Glover gently places the gun into the hands of a well-dressed man, while the corpse is abruptly dragged off-screen, signifying the notion that guns are treated with more respect than human lives.

Another scene, and perhaps one of the most disturbing, is when an all-black church choir gets shot with an assault-style rifle. The massacre appeared to be a reference to the 2015 Charleston shooting, where white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine black churchgoers.

An additional moment that caused mass amounts of shock and discussion online is the white horse, which appears around the 2:35 mark. The horse is ridden by a white, faceless man and is followed by a police car, with lights flashing and sirens blaring.

The scene happens so quick that the chances of missing it the first time are high. But the image seems to allude to one of the books of the Bible, Revelations 6:8.

“And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him,” states the verse.

Revelations is popularized as being the biblical book of destruction, as it discusses how humanity is failing and describes how the world will end. This reference is a window into how some minorities view white Americans and the judicial system as “Death” and “Hell,” respectively.

At 3:15, Glover is standing on the roof of a car, surrounded by beat-up unoccupied vehicles, all with the driver’s doors opened. Viewers drew connections to the high amount of black men and women  killed by police during traffic stops.

“Do a lot of those cars … have their driver’s side doors open, and hazards on cause they’re symbolic of the cars of all the people pulled over and killed by the police?” wondered Twitter user @giddy_pony.

As the video progresses, Glover continues to sing and dance, acting as a distractor to the chaos ensuing around him. He strides around the warehouse, hits famous dance moves, and sings with a smile, a juxtaposition to the fires, explosions, screaming, and more occurring in the background.

This contrast represents how our society is so focused on the media and trends that we often do not pay attention to the real, damaging issues happening in our country. Also, it depicts how some Americans often ignore the racial tension in our country because they feel as if it does not pertain to them.

The video closes with Glover running for his life, lunging towards the camera with strides that scream fear and desperation.

Glover has received mass amounts of praise for his new music video, with many applauding the subtle artistry he encompasses in the short clip.

However, the takeaway is something to be considered.

Is this sensational music video meant to be a call to action? Is it acting a plea for the people of America to stand up and stop tolerating hate crimes, gun violence, racial slurs, and discrimination?

Or is it a dire warning of what society could turn into if we continue down this path of destruction?

Or is it both? Today’s society is so caught up in the fast-paced news cycle that we often forget to notice the common themes in the tragedies that litter our screens.

Whether it be race, gun violence, or political disputes, it is vital we recognize that we are potentially failing as a country. If we don’t wake up, the mayhem and carnage Glover depicts could become our new reality.

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Ainsley Holman '18, Staff Writer/Editor

Ainsley Holman is a senior from Dallas, Texas. When not in school, she enjoys dancing and spending time with her friends.

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“This Is America” Video Takes Nation by Storm