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Donald Glover Brings Unapologetic Blackness to ‘Saturday Night Live’

Donald Glover had a lot to tackle as host and musical guest on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend. And he did so with so much unapologetic Blackness that even guest star Stormy Daniels couldn’t outshine him.

Even in his opening monologue, the rapper/singer, writer and actor nodded to the mark he’s made on Black culture. While rattling off a list of his accomplishments since failing to join the SNL cast after two auditions, he mentioned his hit FX show and Grammy-winning single.

“And if you’re Black, I made ‘Atlanta‘ and ‘Redbone,'” he said, mentioning the program he once said proves white people “don’t know everything about Black culture.”

Glover’s sketches also spoke to Blackness. The music video parodies “Therapy” and “That Night (I Watched You)” spoke to two drastically different eras in Black music that younger and older generations can get into. The first video was by Friendos (a.k.a Migos), which featured the longtime SNL cast member Kenan Thompson and A$AP Rocky rapping about their counseling sessions and the second was for a cheesy 1980s R&B parody of Oran “Juice” Jones’ “The Rain” by Raz P. Berry.

The former “Community” actor also blended social commentary with Blackness, as shown in the sketches “A Kanye Place,” — which poked fun at the public’s obsession with Kanye West’s tweet sprees — “Prison Job” and “Lando’s Summit.” The latter tackled the lack of diversity within the Star Wars franchise Glover is due to star in (the upcoming “Solo”); it hilariously cut to three Black people attending “the first-ever Galactic Summit For All Black Humans” after Lando Calrissian wondered, “where the hell are all the Black people in space?”

And in the final sketch, “Prison Job” Glover, Thompson and Chris Redd play inmates who work at a call center earning just 30 cents per hour, highlighting the exploitation of Black labor — and the need to code switch when interacting with customers.

It’s fitting then, that one of the two new songs Glover debuted as his onstage persona Childish Gambino was the gun-critical “This Is America.” A stark contrast to the bright, summery R&B of “Saturday,” the former single delivered a bold commentary on racism and gun ownership in America, which was accompanied by a politically-charged video.

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