By now, Childish Gambino’s (Donald Glover) video “This is America” has millions of views….63.6 million and counting, to be exact. I’ve watched it at least 10 times. It’s complex, smart, thought-provoking, and powerful.
You can watch the full video here.
The commentaries on the video are just as numerous as the views. I’m not going to offer that here, because I think if you watch it, you’ll probably one, watch it as many times as I have and two, come to your own conclusions and interpretations. What I want to point out is, there’s a good number of you who simply won’t watch the video.
Glover pushes the race conversation further in a provocative way; some may say disturbing. I wouldn’t use those descriptors, however. The word I would use would be uncomfortable. The bottom line is that the video will make you uncomfortable on some level, no matter what side of the race conversation you fancy yourself on. Glover’s video makes an even more powerful statement given the fact the song is simply catchy. If you watched and listened to him debut it on Saturday Night Live, you were probably even more alarmed when you watched the video, which was released shortly after his SNL performance.
It will make you uncomfortable. That’s a good thing.
If you want to call anything disturbing in our society today, it’s how we deal with discomfort around realities such as race. One side simply insists it doesn’t exist and does everything it can to explain it away. The other side insists you not just acknowledge its existence, but you should be painfully shamed as well. Then there’s the third group: those who simply don’t know what to do, and therefore, just avoid discomfort altogether. I am probably disturbed most by the third way. I’m disturbed by how easy we’re willing to avoid anything uncomfortable in this life. What does that say about us?
Go watch the video. Look it directly in the face, but don’t feel ashamed for whatever you feel. I just ask you move past your initial reactions, those initial thoughts and feelings. Watch the video. Then watch it again. And again. Let the words and images get stuck in your head. Talk about it with others. Just don’t stick your head in the sand and go about your life.
Go watch the video. Our very humanity is at stake.