The Overlooked Meaning of “This is America” by Childish Gambino

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This is America clearly struck a chord with this generation. But is there more to the character played by Donald Glover than meets the eye? We’ll look at the symbolism of This is America and its significance in today’s social climate.

After over 100 million YouTube views in less than a week and intense media attention, it is safe to say that This is America has reached the enviable status of “cultural phenomenon”. Combining violent imagery with interpretative dance, the video conveys a message that is clear, yet ambiguous, obvious, yet enigmatic. It holds a mirror up to a popular culture that is in crisis and a new black pride movement rebirthing from an utterly toxic womb.

Not unlike today’s social climate, the video is tense, acerbic, and punctuated with acts of senseless violence. Taking place inside an abandoned warehouse the video celebrates – yet also criticizes – black America in a world that feels increasingly like a claustrophobic madhouse.

The music, the lyrics, and the visual imagery of the video all deal in duality. This is America reflects on what is wrong in America today while perpetuating it, denounces senseless violence while normalizing it, and reclaims America while renouncing it.

At the center of this cultural phenomenon is Donald Glover, a multi-talented artist who is best known for his various roles in TV shows such as Community and movies such as the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story. Glover’s previous dabblings in the music world – under the stage name Childish Gambino – had generated a mostly lukewarm response from the music world. Many critics felt that his lyrical delivery was unconvincing and that Glover was too “Hollywood” to be taken seriously as a rapper.

However, it is exactly Glover’s Hollywood experience that gives This is America its mesmerizing, yet unsettling quality. The character he plays – a shirtless, heavily bearded, and somewhat unhinged man – is entertaining, yet deeply disturbing. He does all kinds of cool dance moves, he raps all kinds of cool rhymes – but also he kills people. His own people.

It is indeed Glover’s acting talents that give the video its attention-grabbing quality. Everything in the video is precisely choreographed, right down to Glover’s facial expressions. For this reason, the viewers quickly understand that there’s a “distance” between Donald Glover and the role he plays in This is America. The emotions portrayed are not natural and genuine, they are theatrical. Glover is playing yet another role. But what role is he actually playing?

Since its release, the video has been subject to endless interpretations. Is Glover playing the role – as many have theorized – of America itself? While the people behind the video refused to spell out what the video’s meaning, one of the clip’s producers, Ibra Ake, told NPR:

“I don’t think we are as cerebral or as calculated as people think. Our goal is to normalize blackness.”

Indeed, the video normalizes some images and concepts. While various commentators ascribed all kinds of meanings to every detail found in the video, they ended up missing the most obvious messages. Indeed, what if the truth was simpler? What if Glover embodied a caricatural version of what he actually is: An entertainer. More precisely, an entertainer who is owned by the powers that be and who is used to hinder and destabilize black America. Let’s look at the video.

Is This America?

The video begins with a black man grabbing a guitar and singing a happy, hopeful melody.

We just wanna party
Party just for you
We just want the money
Money just for you
I know you wanna party
Party just for me
Girl, you got me dancin’ (yeah, girl, you got me dancin’)
Dance and shake the frame

As the man plays the guitar, Gambino stands still in the background.

When the camera pans back to the guitar player, his guitar is gone and he is hooded. He’s about to be executed.

This shot of Gambino shooting a hooded black man in the head became an instant meme. The fact that this scene has reached a near-iconic status in pop culture is a rather sad reflection of today’s culture of death.

Gambino’s oddly contorted position is reminiscent of classic depictions of Jim Crow.

Jim Crow was a stereotypical black character played by a white actor in blackface. The character became associated with institutional segregation in the United States.

Jim Crow was a “black” theatrical entertainer who perpetuated stereotypes destructive to black people. Not unlike Gambino’s character.

Once Gambino shoots the man in the head, the mood changes drastically. The happy and joyful music switches to a hectic, bass-heavy, almost nauseating beat as Gambino raps: “This is America”.

After the shooting, a kid reverently receives Gambino’s gun in a red cloth. As seen in previous articles, red is often used as a symbol of sacrifice. The entire killing had a ritualistic feel to it.

When shooting the singing black man, Gambino kills a pure and wholesome element of black culture and replaces it with a pastiche of modern rap, complete with cliché lines and various buzzwords.

This is America (skrrt, skrrt, woo)
Don’t catch you slippin’ now (ayy)
Look at how I’m livin’ now
Police be trippin’ now (woo)
Yeah, this is America (woo, ayy)
Guns in my area (word, my area)
I got the strap (ayy, ayy)
I gotta carry ’em

While reciting these lines, Gambino smiles maniacally and dances as if nothing happened while the executed guitar player’s body is dragged away by some kids. Depraved entertainment replaces wholesome entertainment.

While many perceive Gambino character to be an embodiment of America itself, the fact remains that the video blatantly depicts the concept of “black-on-black” violence. And, while the rap verse can be interpreted as a criticism of gangsta rap, it also perpetuates this exact thing.

The second chorus is performed by a gospel choir. Once again, Gambino puts an abrupt end to the choir’s soulful and cheerful chants.

Gambino shoots down the entire choir with a Kalashnikov rifle.

Many have interpreted this scene as a reference to the mass shooting of a church by white supremacist Dylan Roof. While this is a possibility, there is more to this shocking scene.

Again, Gambino is the one who shoots down the choir, in the same nonchalant way he shot the guitar player in the head. Once again, we witness the violent takedown of a wholesome part of black culture. Throughout the history of America, churches have been a cornerstone of black communities, with Sunday services serving as a weekly gathering of local people sharing common values. This profound blend of spirituality and community lead many church leaders to become some of the most influential and outspoken leaders of black America.

By shooting down the choir, Gambino – a black celebrity who is part of the elite entertainment system – symbolically shoots down a pillar of the black community, while rapping, once again, “This is America”. The violent, nihilistic, decadent, and materialistic values of pop culture clashes and “competes” with the spiritual and community-driven influence of gospel churches. For this reason, it needs to be (figuratively) shot down.

There is something insidiously perverse about the choir scene. While, on the first watch, the scene is shocking and off-putting, repeated watches normalize this horrific scene of “people of God” being murdered while singing. Sonically, when the shooting occurs, the music switches from high-pitch voices to a bass-heavy beat, which is a somewhat satisfying auditory experience. Therefore, those who watch the video repeatedly actually anticipate the shooting and, unconsciously, end up enjoying it.

After the mass shooting, a kid again takes the weapon reverently inside a red cloth. Another sacrifice. Gambino walks away scot-free as people rush to the scene. The crime will probably be blamed on someone else.

Following the mass shooting, a riot ensues behind Gambino, as people run around and cars burn down. The second verse continues with rap clichés, successively alluding to brand name clothes, making money through drug deals, and shooting down opponents.

During the second verse, Gambino dances around with school kids, while completely ignoring the riots happening around him. Here, he’s mimicking a girl saying that she’s pretty and wearing some Gucci.

So, the same person who shot down the church choir (and got away with it) is now distracting viewers with trendy dance moves and rap lines. School children dance around him because elite-owned celebrities are greatly influential over young people.

While Gambino and the kids dance around, a hooded horseman rides in the background.

Is the horseman a reference to the white horse of the Apocalypse? The book of Revelation says:

“And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.”
– Revelation 6:2

While Gambino distracts the school children and the viewers with dance moves, everyone ignores the white horseman, biblical symbol foreshadowing war and death.

After the chaos, Gambino lights up a joint and starts dancing.

Gambino dances surrounded by old, beat-up cars.

On the left is the guitar player who got shot in the head at the beginning of the video, apparently still alive, though hooded. Although Gambino (representing the industry and its pawns) murdered this wholesome symbol of black America at the beginning of the video, that influence is sometimes needed. But only if it is symbolically hooded and subject to the elite’s rule.

The girl on the right is SZA, a new industry favorite. Interesting fact: Both Donald Glover and SZA were at the 2018 Met Gala, which was an elite industry gathering.

Glover and SZA at the Met Gala – a bizarre and highly symbolic fashion event using symbols associated with Catholicism (read my article about it here). If you were there, you were officially “sanctified” by the industry.
At the end of the video, Glover runs away as a mob of angry people chase him.

Why is Gambino so scared and why do these angry people end up chasing him? Is this the fate of those who sell out to the industry and end up going against their own people? Because, as we continually see, once the industry is done with the sell-outs, it usually gets rid of them.

In Conclusion

This is America has the merit of sparking debate and inciting reflection. The video’s intense use of symbolism combined with an open-ended conclusion lead to a plethora of interpretations, and even an all-out hunt for “hidden details”.

However, the main message of the video is not hidden. It is right in our faces. It is actually so in-your-face that some feel the need to ascribe obscure references its most disturbing scenes to rationalize them.

While many theorize that Gambino embodies America as a whole, the odd, shirtless character starring in the video is clearly an entertainer. From the reference to Jim Crow to the dancing and the rapping, the character is deep in black culture while being harmful to his own people. He symbolically shoots down deep-rooted elements of folklore and spirituality to bring about a new culture based vain, materialistic and self-destructive values.

For this reason, one must be wary of celebrities who claim to be “woke” while being under contract with major labels that are owned by the most powerful conglomerates in the world. Their message is contrived, their artistic freedom is limited and, if some kind of social criticism is allowed, it’s because it serves the interests of those who sign the checks. Right now it is all about division: Division between races, sexes and political leanings. Divide and conquer is still a valid strategy. Many of those who claim to be “woke” are actually owned by those who are looking to put you to sleep … while claiming “This is America”.

 



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Yousef

Just another attempt to divide and conquer an already broken divided nation. The fact that many are falling for it and calling it “exposing” when really it is the elite just using their controlled opposition to manipulate both sides. The horseman subtly riding in the background just shows how the world in general ignores the signs and prophecies being fulfilled when they’re right in our face. When will America truly wake up before its too late?

Christinne

Never.

Man

A multi-racial society is a fragment society. It goes against the natural concept of “walled garden” and hence it is a recipe for disaster just as happened before in the Tower of Babel.

yousef

you are very wrong in that. The Bible states clearly the tower of babel was due to mankinds selfishness and eagerness to be like God. But the apostles and Christ himself teach to live with and love all regardless of race. Race is not the issue. The Satanic Elite at the top are the issue.

STAV

Acts 10: 34,35 “At this Peter began to speak, and he said: “Now I truly understand that God is not partial, 35 but in every nation the man who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

LittleLight

@Man – Your comment seems to promote a sort of racism. You’re entitled to your view. But for the record, Babel has nothing to do with anything you’re talking about. Sin in the heart of man – not skin color – causes fragmentation and division in society. There is nothing natural about a walled garden, either. A walled garden refers to a wall that someone builds around a garden to protect it from wind, or animals. It’s not natural and has nothing to do with segregating people. Also Babel had nothing to do with “multi-racial” anything. In the Bible, there is one race: the human race. With all kinds of variety and beauty to it. Each and every man and woman of every nation, and skin color is made in the image of our Creator, God. @yousef correctly pointed out, too, that Babel had nothing to do with race. The… Read more »

Man

Have you ever seen parrots of different species mixing in the wild? No! Why? Because such behavior goes against nature and against God almighty. Mixing species is destroying what nature has created over thousands of years – a sin!

Name

Lmaooo wow guys another troll. Pat yourself on the back and eat an oreo and drink some milk. Dkt forget to lick the white part first, thats the creamy goodness

I Told U So

Ok, now I understand why you are confused. You don’t even know what a species is. You sound so ridiculous. Think about why any color human cannot give birth to a donkey and then get back with us ok? Eyeroll

selena

lmfao! So if a black person & a white person get together how is that “mixing species”?? they are both the same human “species”!! boy your knuckles must get sore from dragging them along the ground all day.

Delle

Yes but people of different ‘races’ are still the same species though. Duhhh

Miz Cracker

races aren’t a species you bigot

Youssef B.

Mankind is very selfish and eager to be like God, if you haven’t noticed

STAV

You’re a hatemonger, and things will not go well with you if you do not change that foolish way of thinking. Your thoughts originate with Satan , not with the Almight God Jehovah!

Man

So you’re saying that all Christians that were born before the floodgates were opened went to hell? I don’t think so.

Miz Cracker

Human skin color originated from the body’s need to adapt to the different amounts of sunlight across the globe.

People who have darker skin are descended from places that receive large amounts of sunlight. If your ignorant ass had paid attention in high school, you would’ve learned, people with darker skin evolved with that characteristic to protect the stores of folic acid in the skin because large amounts of Ultraviolet rays (UV) causes them to break down.

People who have whiter skin descended from places that received very little sunlight, therefore had less need to protect their stores of folic acid. Their bodies needed to maximize sun exposure in order to produce Vitamin D, and therefore the need for white skin was born.

So before you go off and be ignorant racist, remember evolution!

Joni50

Parrots? Species? quit trying to look scientific, you’re just showing your ignorance. The various colors and nationalities of humankind are not separate species. People of different colors and nationalities can reproduce and bring forth fertile offspring, and this is the scientific criteria for deciding what constitutes a species. (Consider the mule, a non-fertile hybrid of a horse and a donkey. Although horses and donkeys are both of the family Equus, they are of different species within that family, with different number of chromosomes.) Don’t know about parrots, since I don’t live where they live in the wild (do you?) But I’ve seen mixed flocks of birds — sparrows, pigeons, morning doves, feeding together. The concept of race as we now know it is fairly new, having been reified during the past few hundred years for the slave trade. Prior to that, we may have taken notice of various skin colors… Read more »

Teso

Feeding together is one thing. Breeding together is another. Btw one place where parrots live in the wild is in Brazil in the Amazon jungle! 😉

I Told U So

You are part of the problem dude. If you learned that philosophical ungodly viewpoint from your church then leave.

Chaniece

As a Black woman in America. This is not a divide and conquers this is what goes on in the black community. Sorry but Donald Glover is a Black Man in America. We have been dealing with racism and systemic racism since the young. For him to say the racism is apart of the occult is the most ignorant thing ever. So if that is the case then the occult are white people trying to destroy humanity.

DeeLish

@Chaniece Hey girl, I’m a biracial female in America but my skin is brown so I’m NOT white. I have been harassed by the police, been called racial slurs (even from both sides of my own family), and countless sexist/racist happenings.

Racism IS real but what VC is trying to convey, is that the elite CREATED this divide from even way back in the 18th century. Donald Glover is a pawn, I dont care what color he is. I know REAL black men who are ‘woke’ and let me tell you, Childish Gambino is NOT.

Dont give up on trying to find the truth. And definitely dont give up on VC! Stay safe out there Chaniece.

Damaris

As a latin woman with an african-peruvian mother, I tell you that you are being racist. The Hutus and the Tutsi were both black, however that did not stop the Tutsi from discriminating against the Hutus and ending up killing nearly 200,000 Hutus in 1994 in Rwanda. Don’t point your finger to “whites”. There are probably no cultures in the world that have not been racist in some way against others or that in turn have not experienced racism. In fact the word slave comes from “Slavic” because those inhabitants of Central Europe were enslaved in antiquity. Now in South Africa black supremacist groups are trying to expel white South Africans from their country, that is also racism. Regarding races, there is no bad ones and good ones in the history of humanity, we have all been bad in one way or another, we must prevent racism from dividing us,… Read more »

Bly

Chaneice, people are not born racist, they are programmed that way and this programming originated somewhere. How you are not able to see the clear agenda to divide America and humanity at large is simply due to not knowing enough about true history. We are lorded over by an occult elite, satanic bloodline families tracing back thousands of years that understand a divided populace is far easier to control than one that is united. We are all under attack, your people just more overtly to drive the division agenda, but make no mistake, all of us goy/cattle are under attack. Check out the Protocols of Zion and you will see the occult elite plans for us all laid out clearly and succinctly and just how far along they are now.

TLDR; racism is programming, no person is born a racist.

keke

As a black American woman, Yall are missing sister Chaniece’s point. Its not racist to say that the elite( who i guarantee you are whites) are racist. You can look around the whole world and tell someone in power does NOT want black people to feel good about themselves or come up in the world. Even if there is an extensive agenda to ensure that(which there clearly is we all see the attack and blacks, trying to get us to revolt or something) blacks stay living in fear and chaos and self hate, it doesnt change that its something black americans have been dealing with for centuries. This video was displaying that. It was obviously holding a mirror and saying this is america. no one is looking at this and arent shocked everytime, THATS why its so good. You keep seeing more and you know its artistic yet art imitates… Read more »

Aquabubbles

I do not really care what skin color I am looking at. All I can see is violence and more violence. That is all Hollywood produces violence or graphic sex.

Heaven forbid if they produce movies where people love each other. Because we do….. you know, we do love each other.

And I hate the current Hollywood attack on humanity.

Chaniece

It’s not attacking humanity. It’s about the state of America. This country was founded on kill raping and enslavement of people of color. Sorry that you are in the mindset of refusing to see that

Prophetic Explorer

It has nothing to do with racism though, strangely enough. It was the Freemasons who brought back slaves from Africa and have fomented the racial hatred over the years. Sure, there are a few real life racists/useful idiots, but most people just want to get along. The racial pot will continue to be stirred until we have another civil war, because America’s Secret Destiny is to burn and be the ashes from which the Phoenix (NWO) rises. Manson was right, Helter Skelter is coming down fast.

I got to speak to one on Manson’s contemporaries, a name you would all recognize immediately, and he confirmed it for me. He also told me about another serial murder I hadn’t been aware of, the Zebra killings. They all fit the pattern.

Aquabubbles

And your goal is to continue hating each other? Or cry forever about what happened in the past? And start another war? This will highly please the Global Satanic Elite.

George Soros will sing “Mission Accomplished.”

We need to wake up and not follow the crowd.

I Told U So

I’m African American and Cherokee. Do you know what my 98 yr old grandma who lives on the reservation says? If only blacks knew who the real enemy was they would not have been oppressed so long. Black leaders cut off the top of a sheet and sew it to the bottom to solve a problem.

selena

Its not that people dont want to see your struggle,you have very valid points I agree with totally, black people have been treated appallingly & in places other than America you know..its not the centre of the universe! What others are trying to get you to see is that the elite DO create these divides of black against white because while the masses are busy opposing each other they are not thinking about what the elite do to ALL of us regardless of race or colour & sadly while people stay stuck in the mindset of blaming one race or colour over another then humanity will never unite & turn on these f*****s like we all should together & that suits them just fine you are doing EXACTLY what they want & you are thinking how they want you to think.Is it absolutely disgusting that America has largely been built… Read more »