The 5 Biggest Symbols You Might Have Missed in Childish Gambino’s “This is America”
Published on June 4, 2018
Actor Donald Glover, also known as Childish Gambino in the music industry, has made quite an impact on his fans with his most recent music video. The video accompanies his song “This Is America” and is full of symbolism on many topics, ranging from gun violence to racism to police brutality.
Jim Crow Allusion
In the early 1800s, a famous act based on a disabled African slave was created by a minstrel performer. This slave was named Jim Crow, and the act was performed in blackface. Today, Jim Crow is most famous for being the namesake of the Jim Crow laws, which enforced various racial segregation policies in the late 19th century United States. When shooting a gun, Gambino shares a striking resemblance to an illustration of the famous character.
Schoolchildren Backup Dancers
Throughout the video, Childish Gambino dances with a variety of school children. While there are many possible meanings behind these dancers, it seems odd for them to be in the center of so much violence and hate. Gambino even hands one of them a gun, implying that American children today are faced with responsibilities and dangers that are far too intense for kids.
Gun Care vs. Disregard for Life
After dancing around the set for roughly 30 seconds, Childish Gambino shocks his viewers by pulling a gun from behind his back and shooting a man. What’s especially notable about this, however, is how carefully the gun is treated, while the body is simply dragged off screen. Here, Gambino is making a statement about America’s priorities, warning us that American gun culture is beginning to outweigh simple human decency.
Childish Gambino also guns down a group of 10 gospel singers in traditional Christian choir robes. This may be a reference to the Charleston massacre, in which nine people died and one was injured during a Bible study. By tying religion into the video, Gambino further shows the extent of racial discrimination in the US, where even Christian singers may be gunned down because of their skin color.
The Four Horsemen
Towards the end of the video, Childish Gambino includes a subtle image in the background while he continues to dance with the students in the front. A hooded figure on a white horse can be spotted in the background, and is yet another religious symbol, coming from the Book of Revelations. The horse in the video represents one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse: Death.