Stop what you’re doing and watch the video for Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” again.
This two-year-old production from actor David Glover, whose rap stage name is Childish Gambino, is still just as powerful and maybe even more relevant today. This Grammy-award winning production is full of symbolism and the song itself is full of the powerful imagery of what it is like to be black in America. It has been viewed over 697 million times on YouTube as of July 2020.
The video itself is very violent. Just 53 seconds into the video a man is shot in the head. The gun is laid carefully on a red rag while the body is just left where it landed. This is meant to show how many people value guns over human life in America.
Next, we see a black choir singing and they get mowed down with a rifle. Again, the gun is handled with care and the bodies are left where they land. This is thought to be a reference to the 2015 Charleston church shooting in which Dylann Roof killed nine people.
The video was choreographed by Sherrie Silver and shows several young dancers alongside Childish Gambino doing several viral African dance moves.
Time magazine quoted music history professor Guthrie Ramsey saying this about the video:
“He’s talking about the contradictions of trying to get money, the idea of being a black man in America. It comes out of two different sound worlds. Part of the brilliance of the presentation is that you go from this happy major mode of choral singing that we associate with South African choral singing, and then after the first gunshot it moves right into the trap sound.”
With the rise in protests and the Black Lives Matter movement, this powerful video is still just as relevant today as it was two years ago. The police brutality is still rampant with the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and many others.
Featured Image: YouTube.