‘This is America’ by Childish Gambino

As many of you may have noticed, Childish Gambino has released a new song titled ‘This is America’. Written by himself (otherwise known as Donald Glover) and Ludwig Goransson, this song’s music video has captured the attention of millions as it portrays some harsh realities of violence and racism in our country. I suggest watching it to understand the symbolism I will address.

It is important to know that throughout the video, Gambino is playing the role of America. The music video begins with Childish Gambino dressed in linen pants (similar to those of old confederate army uniforms) with gold chains around his neck to symbolize the bondage of slavery as well as obsession with wealth and consumerism. As the song begins, Gambino uses exaggerated movements that have been tied to the caricature of “Jim Crow” which was used to justify racial discrimination.

Throughout the entirety of the video, much of Gambino’s exaggerated actions serve to distract from the chaos occurring the the background. This symbolizes America’s use of entertainment to distract from injustices and issues around us.

In addition to his dancing, Gambino showcases some realities about gun violence in modern day America through two shootings. One occurs at the beginning of the video as Gambino shoots a hooded figure. The other occurs as Gambino shoots down an entire church choir. Sources such as Insider have linked this second element to the Charleston Church shooting which was a racially motivated mass-murder. A less noticeable symbol regarding gun violence is the treatment of the guns after they are used to murder. Gambino carefully places the guns in a red cloth to symbolize the care the America has for its guns despite their ability to take the lives of humans.

Other symbols appear within the ‘This is America’ music video. Amidst the chaos in the background of the video, many have drawn attention to the resemblance between the warehouse they are in to a prison. In addition, the camio of a black hooded figure riding a white horse was a dead give-away to the biblical symbol of the apocalypse.

At the end of Gambino’s video, there is a scene depicting him running like a mad-man as if he was trying to escape the warehouse he was in. These final moments are massively symbolic as they show the realization of Gambino to the issues that preside in America. Because of this, he tries to free himself from the situation.

When asked about his video, Donald Glover decided not to comment on it. He stated that what he makes is for the people and it’s not his place to comment on it or give it context. This bold decision has left fans fascinated and drawn many towards speculation. Nonetheless, the video is clearly symbolic and has had a huge impact on its viewers. I encourage you to watch some of the analysis videos to gain a deeper understanding of the song’s message.

The creation of this video has raised mass-awareness of the issues it addressed. By letting the people wonder, Gambino has created a platform on which people are able to address the issues they believe are most pressing. Childish Gambino uses his art as a form of expression, and he proved that music can be used to portray a message in a much deeper, meaningful way. His incorporation of racism and gun violence has opened the eyes of many people. This perspective truthfully reveals some harsh realities of America that many people don’t particularly like to address, but they desperately need to.