This is America

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Childish Gambino's music video for "This is America" that came out earlier this year was received with instant praise and provided gut-wrenching truths. Using metaphors like "guerilla" and "you're just a barcode", Gambino showcased what it is to be a Black man in today's America.

Police brutality was among the strongest of themes shown in his music video. It seems like you can't even turn on the news without seeing another story about police killing an unarmed Black man. Racism is alive and well in America. Using other phrases like "don't catch you slippin' now", he speaks to how carefully the Black community has to be in order to avoid trouble. It's heartbreaking to think about how scared some people are just to do normal things in fear that they will be misjudged. 

Police brutality is in the spotlight more than ever right now, but most officers involved in an altercation like this do not get convicted. Whether it's a mistrial or simply acquitted, most seem to get away with this. I do not think that every officer that has ever been involved in something like this is racist, there are exceptions to everything. However, in this case, the correlation is, in fact, the causation. 

Gambino also talks about always "staying strapped" and very clearly shows (and uses) guns in this video. Not only does he shine the spotlight on police brutality, but on gun violence as well. There are two very graphic moments in this video where gun violence is shown. The most troublesome, to me, was the depiction of the mass shooting on the choir that is reminicent of the Charlesville shooting. To me, this is metaphorical for the nonsensical violence inflicted on the innocent by war-grade weapons, which is all too rampant today.

While this video is triggering and difficult to watch, the entirety of this video is symbolic for what it is to be a part of the Black community today. From the warehouse the video is shot in, to the old school uniforms the dancers wear that is reminiscent to what inner-city kids would wear to school, the blatant running from the cops to end the video. "This is America" is a rough but insightful look into what it is to be a minority in America today.

For more information on the symbolism present in this video, please visit

- Samantha Thomas