Donald Glover’s chaotic music video “This is America” hilights racism, violence in the nation

Freddy Libby, Assistant Photo Editor

Rapper and actor Donald Glover, known by his stage name of Childish Gambino, recently released a controversial and provocative song and music video called “This Is America”, covering multiple racial issues and societal issues that are prominent in the nation

The music video begins with the sounds of a choir singing and a man walking out to a solitary chair and strumming his guitar. The overall sounds of the music at this point of the video are happy and uplifting, the video pans to a shirtless Donald Glover dancing to the beat with a variety of cultural dances.

The happy mood of the song quickly changes when Glover pulls out a gun and shoots the now hooded guitar player. As he shoots the masked man, the beat of the music immediately switches to a darker trap genre type beat with the opening words “this is America”. Glover hands off the gun and continues to walk towards the camera while performing a mix of popularized dances and exciting facial expressions that sharply contrast the fact that he just shot a man.

Making his way across the floor of what seems to be an abandoned parking garage, Glover dances among a group of schoolchildren while people are violently protesting for a hidden cause in the background. The beat then switches back to the upbeat choir tune and this time they are visualized on screen as a church choir with happy faces and dances. Glover then sneaks into the room and dances up to the front of the choir before pausing and catching a machine gun tossed to him and abruptly turning to shoot the choir down. This scene may be a reference to the 2015 Charleston shooting where a white supremacist killed nine black people in a church basement.

The song immediately transfers back to the trap beat and rapping as Glover walks off the scene, continuing to enthusiastically perform modern dances with a smiling face. This contrast can be taken to show the difference between the different ways society views black people: the violent, gun-wielding killers, and the people behind the dance moves made popular by the generalized view popular, cool black people.

Glover then returns to dancing with the school kids as more violent scenes are portrayed behind the dancing group, with fires burning, and people falling off balconies. Although the scenes in the background are important to the whole message of the video, they are easy to overlook if one simply focuses on first layer, the happy dancers in the front, but when one takes a closer look they can see all of the violence that is happening in the background. By burying this message in his video, Glover attempts to educate his viewers on what is happening in the background of America, the violence and injustice behind the flashy and happy life of the people better off and living rich.

The music video ends with the classic image of the black man running for his life from the white men as Glover sprints down a hall with an obviously terrified face before the video ends.

Through “This is America” Glover highlights the issues of racial bias in America and the multitude of problems that currently are happening in our country that people either overlook or intentionally turn a blind eye to pressing issues in our society.