13 (and Counting) Things About "This Is America" That Knocked Me on My Ass

Fuck inspiration today we’re going to talk about Donald Glover — excuse me — Childish Gambino’s new music video. #PutSomeRespekOnHisName

First of all, if you haven’t seen or heard about it I don’t know where TF you been at because I’ve watched the video 15 times from the “Explore” page of my Insta ALONE. But just in case you were in a coma yesterday (or you know, need an excuse to watch it for the 16th time) here it is:

NOW. After you’ve gathered your edges, you might be feeling something along the lines of “I HAVE TO KNOW WHAT ALL THE SYMBOLISM MEANS HERE!!” First of all, you are not alone. Second of all, we must know that unless Donald Glover blesses us with a thesis uncovering the process and his genius in making the video, we will never know everything. But that’s okay! The sooner we come to terms with it, the sooner we can grieve the fact that he’s happily married with children. Oh is that not what we were talking about? My bad.

Point is, The wonderful wonderful people of the Internet have discovered a few Easter eggs that have already blown me away. I will compile the list here for your mind-expanding pleasure, but please note some of this is stuff I caught and much of this is stuff I did not. So keep in mind it’s not all original thinking.

ALSO if you have more things to add PLEASE note them in the comments. At this point I am rabid for any information about the masterpiece that is “This Is America” so with that, let us begin:


  1. Black bodies are left lying in frame (or dragged out of sight) while the guns are carefully handled and moved out of the shot. I also want to add, even as the initial body is dragged out, it seems to be done in a “Get this out of the way!” manner rather than a “Oh man, let’s take care of this” manner. It's like the body is only moved because it's "ruining everything else" or "killing the buzz". Which I think speaks again to how eager we are to forget horrific tragedy after it happens (see #4)

  2. Glover’s initial stance as he shoots the guitar player is a call back to minstrelsy and the iconic Jim Crow image and IIIIII kind of think refers to the minstrelsy of the idea of “black on black crime”. How the dominant culture uses that as an excuse as to why black people don’t deserve nice things or do deserve getting murdered by the police. Whew, I’m already sweatin’.

  3. Riots. Everywhere. Duh.

  4. After Gambino commits a murder (individual or mass), he immediately smiles at the camera and starts dancing, as if to distract from the horror of what just happened with a shuck ‘n’ jive. And as in real life, it kind of works.


  6. Dancing on the car is an obvious nod to Michael Jackson’s routine at the end of the “Black or White” video I mean come on.

  7. Oh right he shot up a church like the AME Church that was terrorized in Charleston. 

  8. He goes from being your macabre tour guide through this hellscape to being chased down by the mob himself. Which to me feels like a comment on how no matter what you do, at the end of it you’re still a black man in a racist society, which means you’re in danger yourself. *Side note, that look of absolute terror in his face as he’s running is the most chilling thing I’ve seen in a while.

  9. I feel like it’s significant that everything happens in this empty cement parking garage. Like it feels like there’s light, but not really. It’s both spacious and yet feels incredibly confining and suffocating.

  10. There’s like a bit of a Pied Piper feel as Childish Gambino dances with these African school children from scene to scene. I’ve seen people say how it reflects that the youth are always watching/learning from culture, or even relating it to the healing needed in the relationship between Black Americans and Africans.

  11. A line in the song goes “This is a celly, that’s a tool” which may be specifically directed at the police officers who apparently couldn’t tell the difference between a cell phone and a gun and murdered Stephon Clark in his own backyard. Hard to say. (It's not, it seems very clear.)

  12. Going back to the initial murder, I also think it’s very interesting that the man Gambino shot had a bag over his head in the style of a captured terrorist, you know? Could that perhaps indicate the way *certain* American citizens are treated like terrorists when most domestic terrorism has actually been conducted by white males and we just NEVER call it that?

  13. At some point somebody commits suicide in the background??? But there is SO MUCH going on and those adorable children dancing in the foreground that it just like, casually goes unnoticed.



It's like really fucking nuts y'all. Again, if you have any new insights, PLEASE leave them in the comments! We need it. 


14. Did anyone know Donald Glover could move like that??? Likeeeeeeee am I dumb or???


Thumbnail image from IndieWire.com