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Shaw: Childish Gambino, This Is America, brilliantly depicts gross systemic social issues

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Shaw: Childish Gambino, This Is America, brilliantly depicts gross systemic social issues

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Donald Glover, otherwise known as Childish Gambino, released the intense music video for “This Is America” on May 5 and shocked the American people. It was a brutally accurate depiction of what life in America really is for black men and black people as a racial minority.

Although provocative and extremely brazen, the video justly brings to light the true nature of life in America for many who still live their life in fear while the rest of the world sweeps social issues such as racial gun violence and capitalism under the rug, smiling and dancing away from the true problems that face a still segregated, violent America.

Glover’s performance as Gambino was remarkable with the compelling symbolism of pervasive Jim Crow-like racial violence that still occurs in America. This happened within the first 50 seconds of the video, when Gambino struck an iconic Jim Crow pose, shooting a bag-headed guitarist in the back of the head. Other remarkable commentary includes the understanding that children will follow others’ every move, especially those with social influence.

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So, Americans need to be aware of what they are not only saying, but doing around the youth, because they hold the future for what will become of our nation. It is clear that artistic vision may be the most effective medium to connect with an audience to get a clear message across, and Glover is doing right by his social power to inform and spark a discussion about social issues that have been left in the background of American life for superficial capitalism.

The artistic choice of Glover to explore social issues as politically charged as this one with boldness and candor allows for America to see the disgusting nature of systemic issues that have long plagued our country but been covered up with the pleasing distractions of social trends such as dance fads. This ignorance leads to an obliviousness about the pressing concerns of issues such as racial violence and gun violence that persists on in the background of America’s social fabric. The ability of Glover to shed a brighter, more potent light on issues of the brutality of life in America for African Americans, especially black men, rightfully takes advantage of the power that art has in making a statement and creating an impactful reaction from a large audience.

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The artistry of this music video really shows what role art has in establishing a strong voice people can identify with to spark discussion and incite progressive awareness and action. Glover serves as just a distraction for what is truly going on in the video — racial violence and disadvantageous capitalism — and that is exactly the point. With the complex multitude of shifting scenes in “This Is America,” we see the power of artistic visual representation instead of passionate, albeit ungraceful, commentary about racial violence on social media in America. Art is a medium in which anyone can derive a similar strong message if the vision was executed well — Glover has succeeded.

Some have said this is anti-Second Amendment propaganda that fosters bloodshed. However, this is exactly the problem that Glover is conveying in his video. People are ignoring all of what is in the background and only focusing on what’s sometimes wrongfully in the forefront of discussion. The interpretation that this video is propaganda and encourages violence is an incomplete and inaccurate understanding of the art as an entire entity, which is exactly the problem that America faces.

Challenge yourself. Look in the background. Don’t let this be your America.

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About the Writer
Nichole Shaw, Opinion Columnist

Email: [email protected]

Nichole Shaw is an opinion columnist at The Daily Iowan, writing about culture and systemic oppression of different populations....

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