Music Stuff

Music Thursdays: Childish Gambino’s This Is America


Wow!  What a music video from artist Childish Gambino.  The music video for “This Is America” is something you must watch a couple of times to get everything.  From what I watched, I saw that guns have become more important in our society than the victims, this is why the guns are laid on a red cloth after being used.  I also saw Childish wearing those pants like the Confederates wore during the Civil War.  And the dancing and the victims tied up with a bag over their heads like in the Jim Crow era.

Yep, I also saw the rioting in the background, the person jumping off the floor above, the kids recording everything on their phones, and the horseman.  I also noticed how the music video paused for 17 seconds to represent the Parkland shooting victims.  I saw a comment from a YouTube video that mostly explains everything from the music video.

  1. You caught on with the bag over the head theory. In the guitarist’s happiness, you see him, unbothered, enjoying himself. Then when he’s murdered, you don’t SEE him (his face, nor his happiness).  Black people are going about their day, but are met with unexpected death by gun violence.  You see another guitarist playing toward the end, a representation of the cycle of the mass murder of black men in America continuing. “Same shit, different day” sorta thing.
  2. Gambino’s movements and attire mimic those of minstrel shows during the Jim Crow era.
  3. The guns are handled with care, wrapped in a red cloth (representative of the red states’ obsession with protecting gun laws no matter the cost). Black bodies, however, are dragged away or just left there.
  4. The shooting of the choir represented the Charleston Shooting by terrorist Dylan Roof.
  5. He says a line, “This a celly. This a tool.” Black people are now shedding light on the horrors they experience with police brutality via cell phone. But this line could also have another meaning. “Celly” = jail cell. ‘Tool” = prison industrial complex. Mass incarceration of men of color. Minor offenses with outrageous sentences. The warehouse they’re in does look like a prison.
  6. Person commits suicide jumping from top-tier, probably a tragic nod to Kalief Browder (look him up.) or mental and physical abuse inmates undergo from other inmates and correction officers that drive them to suicide.
  7. Masked man on a pale horse rides in right by a police car, signifying death.  These days, black people in America feel like once they’re approached by an officer, they’re gonna meet their doom.
  8. Notice that each time he shoots someone, the chaos in the background continues. But when he pulls out what is PERCEIVED to be a gun, everyone runs off, a woman screams in the background and the music stops.  A nod to the unarmed black men murdered by police.  In general, people seemed threatened by the existence of black people, even if they’re unarmed (hence the scream you hear.  Only time it’s heard in the song, despite ALL the chaos in the background).
  9. The music at this point stops for 17 seconds (a tragic nod to the 17 who died in the Parkland shooting).
  10. He pulls out a joint and is “awakened.” Dances on old cars.  The cars are a nod to all the riots and protests (Rodney King, Baltimore Riots, etc). But can also represent the lack of progression in America as far as racism and white supremacy are concern.  SZA makes a cameo sitting on one of the cars.  Her hair resembles the crown on the Statue of Liberty.
  11. The camera moves up (from the “sunken place” to him running from people: a nod to the movie Get Out). He’s awake, is running toward a light, but can’t seem to get there. The chase seems to signify that this shit doesn’t seem like it’s gonna stop. Blacks in America seem like they’re being hunted. That’s what I felt in this scene.

All in all, Childish Gambino wasn’t representative of a particular group of people when he murdered those people in the video. He embodied the state of America in those moments. We just become so desensitized to constant news of gun violence . And have become distracted by media, celebrity culture, stupid trends, material possessions and vanity when crazy shit is going on in America.

I think that comment above represents the music video below pretty good.  If you have not seen the music video yet, first it’s NSFW, two watch it a couple of times below.

And below are a few videos showing what parts of the music video means.

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