A Deeper Look At Childish Gambino’s Genius Song “This is America”

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A Deeper Look At Childish Gambino’s Genius Song “This is America”

Alex Van Duyne, Staff Writer

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Donald Glover, better known as Childish Gambino released a new song on May 5th called “This is America” with a video on YouTube with lots of meaning behind it.

The music video starts with a man, specifically Calvin the Second sitting on a chair and playing the guitar. The camera shifts to show Glover standing. He starts dancing, and eventually goes behind the man in a chair, now with a bag over his head. Glover shoots him in a pose that resembles Jim Crow.

Donald Glover in the music video (left) versus Jim Crow (right).

If you don’t know, Jim Crow was a character created in the early 1830’s, played by Thomas Dartmouth Rice. The fictional Jim Crow was meant to be a clumsy black slave. The name “Jim Crow” became a racist term towards blacks. When segregation laws were passed in 1838 in the Southern United States, they were called “Jim Crow laws.”

The tone of the music changes after the man is shot. Glover gives the gun to someone on the side, but Calvin the Second is dragged along out of the camera frame. Chaos begins in the background while Glover dances. Soon, a group of young people join him dancing. Everyone dancing distracts from all of the commotion and violence in the background.

The music changes again to a happier tone with a choir singing. The choir is singing “Get your money, black man, get your money,” Glover enters from a door, is thrown a gun, and shoots them all. This is a reference to the tragedy of the Charleston church shooting in 2015.

The tone of the music changes once again and like before, the gun is taken care of while people are left dead.

Glover shoots a choir that were peacefully singing to possibly represent the tragic Charleston church shooting. Victims are left dead as the song continues.

The 5 younger people join Glover while he’s dancing and even more chaos is going on in the background. The lyrics during this part of the song are “Look how I’m geekin’ out, I’m so fitted, I’m on Gucci, I’m so pretty, I’m gon’ get it, watch me move.” This can reference to how easily people can ignore horrible events happening in our world.

Towards the end of the video, the camera pans over a group of people looking from up above looking at their phones or even filming what’s going on. Glover and the same 5 people are dancing, while a car is on fire.

Glover has a smoke, then the music changes again and the scene cuts to the warehouse filled with vintage cars, rather than expensive and new cars featured in most new music videos. Calvin the Second is back, playing guitar, still with a bag on his head, and SZA sitting on one of the cars.

The final scene of the music video shows Donald Glover running down a dark hallway. This could be compared to a place in the film “Get Out.” In the movie “Get Out,” the “Sunken Place” is a dark mental prison for black people. Coincidentally, one of the actors, Daniel Kaluuya, introduced Glover’s performance of the song on Saturday Night Live.

The last scene of the “This is America” video, featuring Glover running down a dark hallway.

“It was very true if you think about,” stated 8th grader Charlie Mitchell. “It’s showing people dancing to show [how] people focus on pop culture more than the chaos going on. It’s taking the focus off of everything that’s going on behind them.”

“It got me thinking about America and how America actually is,” said another 8th grader, Raven Wymore. “It showed what most people wouldn’t talk about.”

“This Is America” debuted at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming both Childish Gambino’s first number one and top ten single in the country.

Childish Gambino is an American actor, comedian, writer, director, record producer, singer, songwriter, rapper and DJ. Some of his other songs are “Redbone” and “Me And Your Mama,” both from his album “Awaken! My Love.”

What are your opinions on the song and video? Why do you think it earned so much popularity? Comment your opinions in the comments!

Alex Van Duyne, Staff Writer

Alex Van Duyne is an 8th grader here at Dana Middle School. She is an only child and her elementary school was South Shores. If she could travel back to...

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A Deeper Look At Childish Gambino’s Genius Song “This is America”