If you haven’t seen it. Here it is, in all it’s wonderful beautiful glory
Now, why did I cry? Why did the video make me cry?
Well for one, it’s named “This is America”. This video is full of truths about our society as a whole, and as I sat there watching it for what felt like the millionth time, I started to shed tears, because the meaning continued to weigh heavy on my heart.
The main point in this video is basically showing how distracted or little we tend to care about what’s going on in society. As we see Gambino dancing with these school kids, as if nothing is going on. From the opening scene we hear a chant, basically describing that we just want to have fun and that we just want to have a good life. Starting off the song with an up-beat, African influenced chant “We just wanna party, Party just for you, We just want the money, Money just for you…” and from there things get grim when Gambino pulls out a gun and shoots a man with his head covered…and utters the words:
“This is America, Don’t catch you slippin up…”
And the scene afterwards, which was noted by many outlets online, showed Glover handing off the gun to someone else, who had a red scarf of some sort, taking the gun off screen ever so carefully. And what does he do after all of this commotion? Starts to dance as if nothing happened. It’s a mirror on how society is taken aback by the sheer horrendous nature of America, but will then turn their eyes to something else as if the event that just happened never occurred.
The dancing in the video is a distraction. The lyrics, while basic in delivery, tells a simple story of our country. “Police is trippin”, “I got a strap, I gotta carry em”, etc. but the song alone does not make this the epic experience you should be hearing. The video is what you should pay attention to.
Gambino even goes to murdering a church choir, symbolizing the Charleston shooter from a few years back, and again the gun, which looked like and Assault Rifle, was taken away with care, which Glover, in turn, decides to start dancing again. Symbolizing the initial shock of a tragic incident, but how we are quick to move along and forget about things again.
And while Gambino is dancing around with his crew, the background is just full of chaos. The world around us in burning, but we’re focusing on the wrong things. And while all of these things are going on, we’re dancing, rather the Hip Hop community is dancing, and “getting their money”. That’s what it’s all about. As a black male in America, the chaos in the background is what we deal with on a normal basis, but society is being blinded. These things continue to happen, and people are out here just “getting their money” but not out here striving to make a change. Obviously this is just my opinion and how I view it, but as the chaos goes on in the background, we’re just out here doing our dance. Whether that dance be “dancing for the man to ‘get that money'” and not challenge the status quo, or the dancing around people do to avoid the hard conversations. However, there is a point where this video screams how much America loves our art, but not our lives. The outro goes like this:
“You just a Black man in this world
You just a barcode, ayy
You just a Black man in this world
Drivin’ expensive foreigns, ayy
You just a big dawg, yeah
I kenneled him in the backyard
No probably ain’t life to a dog
For a big dog”
If this doesn’t scream “we’re just loved for our entertainment” I don’t know what is. They don’t love us, they just love our culture.
This is America, where people want to believe it or not. And this is why I cried. Because while we are enjoying our lives, there will always be a next time, and a time after that, unless something is done about it. Being a black man in America only amplifies the hurt, due to injustices that we have to worry about on a daily basis when it comes to police brutality and racism. And that reality just breaks my heart…
Donald Glover, you are a genius and most of America doesn’t deserve you.