Since the May 5th release of Childish Gambino’s music video, This is America, YouTube has recorded over 181 million views and it has reached No. 1 on The Billboard Hot 100. Critics have praised Childish Gambino, the stage name of Donald Glover, for producing a video with so many layers of political commentary which is proking a discussion of modern-day violence and culture in our country.
“I don’t want to give it any context,” Glover said an interview. “I feel like that’s not my place.”
But despite Glover’s reluctance to interpret the video himself, many critics have taken on the job on for him.
According to INSIDER, the gray pants Glover wears in the video are almost identical to those worn by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War.
The red handkerchief used to handle the guns at the 0:55 and 1:56 mark in the video, INSIDER believes represents the Republican Party, specifically how Republican-dominated states often value the 2nd Amendment over lives.
Chaos continues out of focus while Glover and school children perform a South African dance made famous by Rihanna called Gwana Gwana which Business INSIDER believes symbolizes how black culture is used to distract from black violence.
“Death” on a white horse gallops in the background as Glover and the children dance next to a burning car at 2:37.
17 seconds of silence starting at 2:42 is believed to be used to honor the 17 victims in the Florida Stoneman Douglas High School shooting
The video is packed frame-by-frame with symbols that make a powerful statement about black violence, gun control, white supremacy, and the media.
Black youth in the Oak Park neighborhood in Sacramento shared their responses when first watching the video.
“When I first saw it, I was like “Woah”. It made me think a lot about the black culture in American- like black violence and how people react to it and how a lot of the culture is used as a distraction from the violence,” said Makaylah Porras, a 17-year-old Sacramento High School student.
“There was just so much going on. I was distracted by everything. I had to watch it a good seven times,” said Violet Walker, another 17-year-old Sacramento High School student.
“The first thing I noticed was when he posed back and I saw him shoot the dude in the head. I thought it was interesting. I didn’t get the choir reference until someone explained it to me. I liked how it had an ominous feeling. It portrays how America is basically a facade. It’s not peaceful here, like, THIS is America,” said Layla Dobson, an 18-year-old Sacramento High School Student.
What do you think the symbolism means? You can watch the full music video here: