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Childish Gambino’s, “This Is America” Sparks Cultural Conversation

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Childish Gambino’s, “This Is America” Sparks Cultural Conversation

Matthew Podgorny, Senior Writer

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Childish Gambino’s new song, This is America, talks about the things in America that are constantly swept under the rug and the disadvantages that African Americans are put at by the government and other figures of authority. The visuals that accompany the song show many things subliminally, such as riots in the background and the mannerisms and actions of those on screen during the video. I believe the video sparks a conversation that many Americans either did not want to have or did not know was a problem, and this conversation is something that is long overdue and was very much needed in all of our communities.

The video shows many social issues, predominantly those concerning police brutality, gun violence, and racism. In the music video there is a scene where a church choir is singing before being gunned down by Gambino. Jason Dorrete, Diversity and Cultural Engagement director and assistant director at Oregon State University said, “In the African American community, the church has always been revered as a sacred place, a safe space to be amongst other folk who look like you, who share the same faith and even now, the Black church isn’t even safe.” Many believe this scene to be a reference to a shooting that took place at a church in 2015. With other things in the video, however, one might need to look closer than just watching at a surface level where one could get distracted by Gambino dancing with a group of school children who take up most of the focus while other things happen in the background.

This seems to be something that Gambino had actively sought to do though, as a way to see who would read into the deeper messages and who would just watch it and think “this is a cool song.” The video should be watched several times in order to get a full grasp of what is going on, but even then it could prove difficult to dissect every little thing going on. What makes this even more of a difficult task is Gambino said, “that’s not for me to say” when asked if he could elaborate on the meaning of the video. So we are left to our own devices and speculations on what the true meaning of the video could be.

The video shows lots of truth about the times we live in now and the past. It also shows things that people may be uncomfortable with when they are presented with this, but some people are completely missing the point of the video and are turning it into a joke or parodies of it into issues that are not as relevant or just downplay the meaning of the video. Youtuber Nicole Arbour took the video and tried to put a spin on it, that spin being it is a poorly shot video in a warehouse talking about feminism in a way that downplays the subtlety that was in the first, and also still has the same dance moves and things that reference African American culture.

Communities need to take this video as initiative to help bring young African Americans together and show other people what problems they are faced with because of trivial things. This is a good thing that people need to not overlook and dive into these problems and issues that have been laid out for us by Gambino.  

 

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Childish Gambino’s, “This Is America” Sparks Cultural Conversation