After a stunning performance as host and musical guest on “Saturday Night Live,” actor-musician Donald Glover released the official video for his politically-charged new single, “This Is America.”
While Glover debuted the song during his “SNL” performance, it was the subsequent visuals that sent tongues a-wagging. The four-minute track features a bare-chested Glover, who also goes by the stage name “Childish Gambino,” comically dancing around a large warehouse alongside a handful of schoolkids and a church choir.
His lighthearted antics take a dark turn, however, when he pulls out a semi-automatic rifle and unleashes a hail of bullets on the cloaked singers. He does the same to a hooded captive, firing a single shot to the back of his head.
“This Is America, don’t catch you slippin’ though,” Glover raps. ” … Look how I’m livin’ though, police be trippin’ though / Yeah, this is America, guns in my area / I got the strap, I gotta carry ’em.”
Fans and celebrities alike quickly took to Twitter to applaud Glover’s “musical genius,” and offered several different interpretations of the symbolism featured in the video. Some saw the rapper’s playful antics as a nod to the fictional Jim Crow cartoon while others believed he offered social commentary on how hip-hop has essentially turned a blind eye to pretty much everything going wrong in America.
Then there was the scene where Glover’s gun was handled with such great care, which fans saw as America’s fierce defense of the 2nd Amendment and its precious firearms.
“This is so amazing and true that I wanna cry,” tweeted fellow rapper Jaden Smith.
This Is So Amazing And True That I Wanna Cry https://t.co/8ctcVY5eOS
— Jaden (@jaden) May 6, 2018
Praiseworthy tweets for the Atlanta-native continued pouring in from the late night until early Sunday morning.
So many layers of symbolism
-References to mass shootings & hysteria
-Black men shot; meanwhile the guns are handled with care
-The current state of hip hop; seemingly unaffected by anything going on
I could go on. Donald Glover you nailed it.#ThisIsAmerica https://t.co/eFaJCIfHGX
— Dee (@DarnettaWafford) May 6, 2018
I think I've watched #ThisIsAmerica 10 times now. It has so many layers and layers and layers.
College courses could be taught on this video.
It's art of the highest degree.
Thank you @donaldglover and team.
— Shaun King (@shaunking) May 6, 2018
Me when I realized that gambino's dance moves distracted me from all the craziness happening in the background and that's exactly the point he's trying to make… #ThisIsAmerica pic.twitter.com/ZlMxE2VwZV
— Claudia Gonzales (@claudiag0292) May 6, 2018
Notice the kids follow in his footsteps and look to him for their next move. But they are also the first to clean up his mess. #ThisIsAmerica
— CeejSocial (@xtraceej) May 6, 2018
Shook by how fast I caught this reference. I haven’t seen a Jim Crow picture in years. Donald Glover did not come to play with y’all today. #ThisIsAmerica pic.twitter.com/5Xq4tLSJ7P
— Corporate greed kills (@spiceymcpisces) May 6, 2018
Summed up: The American fabric is selling distractions and superficial livelihoods, while in reality avoiding gross systematic issues that we ignore because it’s easier to live a lie than to confront the truth. #ThisIsAmerica Childish Gambino Donald Glover #PoliticsNation pic.twitter.com/rPuu5Ycsc4
— Charli Huxley (@ImKnotTheOne) May 6, 2018
#ThisIsAmerica references mass shootings & hysteria, guns handled with respect & care, yet many will not watch this video as they will find it too graphic and offensive! The truth hurts America! Donald Glover you nailed it. 😢
— Paula Jones (@LoveBeingNanny) May 6, 2018