Childish Gambino's 'This Is America' Video: 11 Hidden References Revealed

By Isha Thorpe

May 10, 2018

Childish Gambino dropped his powerful "This Is America" music video on Saturday (May 5) night after he hosted "Saturday Night Live." 

Since its release, fans of the rapper/producer/actor have not been able to stop talking about it. The purpose of art is to create awareness for certain things. Then, those who do gain the knowledge that the art speaks of could potentially have the tools to change things -- society even -- for the better. That's exactly what Gambino did with his visual for "This Is America."

In the impactful vid, Donald Glover has several messages that are being addressed. The artist, himself, dances and moves throughout the visual, as chaos occurs around him and that's why the video is so special. It's unapologetically bold and grabs your attention from the second that it begins. However, have you been able to spot all of the hidden messages in it and in the background of his moves?

If not, you're in luck because we got you! Let's take a look at the 11 hidden messages in Childish Gambino's "This Is America." 

1) Tracy Martin Look-Alike Playing Guitar: In the very beginning of the music video, a musician named Calvin the Second, who many mistook for the late Trayvon Martin's father, Tracy Martin, begins playing the guitar. Right off the bat, viewers see that the video is going to address gun violence. 

2) Jim Crow: Gambino does dance moves that are similar to the moves of the Jim Crow caricature, before he shoots the Tracy Martin look-alike. He also does these dances throughout the entire video. Gambino even poses as Jim Crow right before he shoots the guitarist.   

3) The Care Of Guns: After Gambino uses the guns to shoot people in the visual, it's careful handed to someone who wraps them up in red cloth (most likely symbolizing the blood they shed) before taking them away. Meanwhile, the dead bodies are dragged away like they don't matter on the floor. This references how guns are so respected and cared for in this country, more than actual human beings who die at the hands of them. 

4) Charleston Church Shooting: There's one scene where Gambino fatally shoots a church choir. This references the nine church members who were shot and killed by white supremacist Dylann Roof at Emanuel AME church shooting in Charleston in 2015. 

5) Kids Get The Guns: Look closely, the ones who take the guns from Gambino each time he shoots victims are actually kids. This can be a metaphor for the rising amount of school shootings in the country by students and other young people, as the government continues to do nothing to prevent them. There have already been dozens of school shootings in 2018, thus far, and it's only May. 

6) Gambino & The Kids Dancing: The artist and school children dance throughout the visual with huge smiles on their faces. The kids are wearing uniforms that resemble the ones that South African students wear. There's even a moment where they do the South African gwara-gwara dance. This dancing can have more than one meaning. One: It can symbolize the fascination for social media and entertain, as chaos happens around us, which in the vid's background includes suicide (a guy jumps from a balcony), violence and more. Or two: It can show a type of coping mechanism, as destruction surrounds us.    

7) Confederate Pants: In the "This Is America" visual, Gambino remains shirtless, as he wears pants that are similar to the uniform pants that were worn by the Confederate soldiers. And as we all know from our handy-dandy history books, the confederacy fought to keep slavery as a way of life in the south, while the union fought to end it -- and won -- which made the south dependent on the north. 

8) The Old Cars: Near the end of the video, there are cars that are models from two to three decades ago. This can either reference Philando Castile being shot and killed in his '97 Oldsmobile, or the many years of gun violence and police brutality the black community has faced in the country. These issues are not new. 

9) Black Or White: While dancing in an MJ type of way on top of these old cars, Gambino could be referencing Michael Jackson's banned car scene at the end of his "Black Or White" music video, where he also dances on cars and even morphs into a Black Panther. There's also a window painting that says "KKK Rules," which MJ breaks in the scene, too.  

10) Hooded Man Riding A White Horse: There is also a moment in the video where a hooded man rides past the screen on a white horse. Right behind this, police cars follow. This most likely references the Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the Bible, which is about death and the end of time. Others believe that the horse rider symbolizes Bill Cooper's “Behold a Pale Horse” book. Cooper is a former U.S. Naval Intelligence who used his book to described government conspiracies that intimidate the civilian population. 

11) Get Out: The closing scene of "This Is America" video shows Gambino frantically running away from a crowd of white men in a dark surrounding. This can symbolize Gambino trying his best to escape the "sunken place," which is a mental prison for black people whose souls are separated from their bodies, which cause them to be isolated from their own behavior.

Be sure to pay attention to the occurrences in the background of the "This Is America" video and not solely on the dancing. Watch it more than once, if you need to, which you most likely will. And stay woke. 

Photo: YouTube/Donald Glover

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