It’s been three months since the shooting at Parkland, Florida, and some weeks since the most recent demonstration organized as a result of the massacre. I thought to myself, there’s been enough time elapsed, it’s time to write something in support of gun control to keep the conversation alive and ongoing before the collective short-term memory loss of America sets in. Then before I could sit down to write my post, Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino released his new song and video, and screw whatever words I was going to say because the man just dropped a musical atomic bomb in our midst.
The video is a banquet of symbolism and references, and it will take repeated viewings to decipher it all, if that’s even possible considering the subjectivity of art. But make no mistake, this video is saying something powerful about our country, and no one, absolutely no one should ignore it. Be the viewer who is complicit with the use of black art to anesthetize yourself from the handbasket-to-hell we’re all in; be the viewer who is horrified by the depicted violence but calmly scrolls past news of violence against individuals and groups as they check Facebook; be the viewer who is angry at this black guy for making this video cause who the fuck does he think he is; be the viewer who sees this as a black guy confirming all the racist stereotypes already in your head; be any of those viewers and more, but view it. Don’t ignore it. Don’t you dare ignore it.
Violence, indifference, racism, apathy, willful ignorance, misanthropy, discrimination, misogyny, classism: this is America.
We don’t have to be that, though. But we have to know, accept, that this is what we are right now before we can change.
On Rolling Stone, writer Tre Johnson called This is America a “nightmare we can’t afford to look away from.” The video has a particular message and meaning to the black community, but make no mistake, we’re all in this mess together. Glover has held up the mirror to himself and us all, ALL. Don’t look away.
Don’t you dare look away.