Sunday morning, I woke up to a frenzy of tweets hailing Childish Gambino as a genius. If you happened to have been watching SNL or catching up on Atlanta and witnessed the brilliance of his alter ego Donald Glover— this is not news. What many of us were not expecting was for Childish Gambino to enrich our lives and minds with new music. Embedded in a tweet, I watched a two minute clip in which an ever-gleeful, dancing Gambino (moves was real smoove though, not going to lie) extinguishes a group of choir members with an automatic rifle in 3 seconds, flat. Jaw-drop. Heart-sink. Not the ideal visual for a Christian girl to witness on a Sunday morning. To be perfectly honest, I was bothered. But recalling Gambino’s perplexing music video catalog, I sensed there was a lot more going on here than gratuitous violence.
…Alright, Mr. Gambino. You have my attention.
If you haven’t, watch the new music video for This Is America… and then watch it again before reading the tweets below.
If you’ve ever tried to decode a Childish Gambino music video, you know the straight-up weirdness of it can be jarring (and at times off-putting) but you also know that among the seemingly ordinary setting, deadpan recitation of lyrics (though not really in the case of This Is America), and sprinklings of the surreal, there’s a vital truth hiding there in plain sight. In This Is America the message—a call to action—is made plain after a few viewings when apparitions begin to unearth themselves as very real and tangible: If you’re not already woke, you need to wake up.
After the video dropped, Twitter went in, tweeting some helpful commentary in attempts to decode the mindf*ck that is This Is America. Ideas were exchanged about gun violence, desensitization, and even minstrelsy. The conversation is still happening. There are still so many things that we’ve yet to cover. To start, here are 16 Tweets about the video, its blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, moments, and thoughts that delve deeper into Childish Gambino message.
Glover’s facial expressions in This Is America as he stares at the camera are such an indictment of the viewer as a consumer of black culture and brutalizer of black people.
— Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo) May 6, 2018
I mean there was SO MUCH. The pale horse of death from Revelations, white cops going after black people, Gambino’s minstrel show-esque movements/facial expressions, Gambino running away from the sunken place at the end. But his shoot and gwara though! 🙄#ThisIsAmerica
— E-Money 🤑 (@imanimlewis) May 6, 2018
Placing the guns carefully on red cloths is such a subtle but glaring criticism of the fact that even after such atrocities we still value such deadly weapons over the lives of innocents. @donaldglover #ChildishGambino #ThisIsAmerica #Dontcatchyouslippin pic.twitter.com/9IS0uF9Vly
— Mxchxxl (@xCANNIBEMEx) May 6, 2018
— janelle madikizela monae (@plumandmustard) 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
— CeejTheDay (@xtraceej) May 6, 2018
— Nichia (@nicky_furiosa) May 6, 2018
— Johanna Fuentes (@jfuentes) May 6, 2018
The thing that’s so interesting to me about Bino’s video is that as jarring as the moments of violence are to watch, we’re so bombarded with clutter after the fact that we forget it even happened. Which I’m assuming was probably the point.#ThisIsAmerica
— butch queen. (@jsmith189) May 6, 2018
If you’re too busy making fun of Childish Gambino’s dancing to actually understand the message, this song is about you. #ThisIsAmerica 🤷🏾♀
— Anisha (@nishaa_anisha) May 6, 2018
After you’ve watched #ThisIsAmerica twice or 3x, watch it again. But this time, ignore Donald completely and just watch the background. Whew.
— Awesomely Luvvie (@Luvvie) May 6, 2018
Just finding out that the guitar player in the beginning of #ThisIsAmerica is the father of Trayvon. Hit me like a ton of bricks.
— Freeride Door (@door846) May 6, 2018
I need this framed for my office. pic.twitter.com/f2V6D9ZBTy
— Akilah Hughes (@AkilahObviously) May 6, 2018
So much symbolism in #ThisIsAmerica 1. Guns are handled with care 2. The kids are following his every move 3. Travon Martins dad playing the guitar 4. Dance moves depicting americas shopping craze 5. The people recording on their phones. SO MUCH MAN!
— Mel_OD K. Howard (@MEL_OD) May 6, 2018
Death riding the Pale white horse while he is followed by Hell (represented by police) going totally unnoticed because of dancing and pop culture in the foreground is the single greatest cinematic message I’ve seen in a music video to date. #ThisIsAmerica pic.twitter.com/DYaPjbvoym
— Isaiah Persons (@PersonsIsaiah) May 6, 2018
Viral dances, mumble rappers… everything to distract the youth and make them forget about the real problems America doesn’t want people to talk about!
Respect to Childish Gambino for releasing #ThisIsAmerica
— Kanisha J (@KaniJJackson) May 6, 2018
Donald Glover is 3 of the top 4 trending topics without assaulting anybody or claiming slavery was a choice. Just from making good art. After a rough start, this week is really closing strong. pic.twitter.com/Ba12JvOves
— W. Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) May 6, 2018