By Delani Griffin
In Childish Gambino’s new music video for “This is America,” he sets an irrefutable tone for his audience with symbolism that dates back from the riots in Ferguson to the Jim Crow Laws. “This is America” is a music video like none other, with a significant storyline created to impact its viewers, which the producer Hiro Murai had been known for in his show “Atlanta.” The beginning of the video with both music, lighting, and events are nothing like the end with shocking visuals throughout. Although Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) himself has told TMZ it’s not for him to say what the meaning of the video is, it leaves room for people everywhere to interpret their own meaning of “This Is America.”
This music video has both artistic and historic events symbolized throughout the video to show a perspective of how America is with gun violence. At the very beginning of the video, it begins upbeat and cheerful, with a calm melody, which turns into a heavier beat after Glover kills a man in an execution-style while posing like the famous, “The Original Jim Crow” painting. After this extremely apt visual, he continues to dance his way through a door to a singing choir, who he then kills as well, who many connect to the Charleston church shooting.
Another major use of symbolism in this video is the red cloth that the guns are placed on after these horrific crimes, which some say is a symbol of how much Americans value guns for their potential to kill. As the video continues, a group of students begin to dance with Glover, which continues until 2:44 where the kids disappear about which @vixtoriaclark, a student in Parkland Florida, on Twitter said, “…in #ThisIsAmerica the music stops, then starts up again at 3:01. That my friends is the 17 seconds of silence for Marjory Stoneman Douglas.” Along with these major symbols, he includes people rioting to portray Ferguson, a few people recording as bystanders, and then finally him running at the end of the film. There are so many uses of symbolism in this piece that it would be extremely difficult to list them all without the confirmation of Donald Glover himself.
This music video is a must-see for everyone so that they can interpret it at their at their own volition. I would highly recommend this song as both a statement piece and quality piece of music. The symbolism puts this video above any others that I have seen recently, and gives so much room for people to enjoy his creativity in their own way. The inclusion of the shootings, the criminalization of Glover when he stops dancing, and the MSD 17 seconds of silence have an indirect way of enlightening the public about gun violence that is happening all over America today. Donald Glover’s “This Is America” is not just a simple piece of music, but it is a thinly veiled political statement on today’s America.