Why aren’t white people more explicitly shown & held accountable in ‘This Is America’?
May 8, 2018
Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America’ video is a thought-provoking piece of work that got Black people in the U.S. and beyond very excited. Using clever imagery, the artist makes the viewer simultaneously smile and worry by mixing visuals of Black entertainment with violent actions.
The video sparked interesting conversations. One of them is about a question some people shared on social media: why aren’t white people more explicitly shown and held accountable in ‘This Is America’?
In fact, they are held accountable, the dangers of whiteness are omnipresent. But some argue that by not really showing visibly white people as the aggressors, the video is “preaching to the choir”, and that to the average non-Black viewer, the video may look like Black people are inflicting all of this violence to themselves. After all, a lot of hip-hop consumers are white.
Whiteness appears in many ways, while the viewer is distracted by the entertaining dancing, probably a metaphor of what actually happens in real life.
The hooded figure riding a white horse, the police cars, the people running after Glover at the end of the video are all expressions of whiteness. Even some of the actions Glover embodies (shooting up a Black Church, etc.) inevitably remind us of white terrorism in the United States.
Glover also seems to reference whiteness by mimicking Jim Crow era characters, as in the violent execution at the beginning of the video.
It feels like a ‘For Us By Us’ video.
After all, we don’t always have to explain ourselves to the white eye or perform for the white gaze, do we? One could even argue that the whole point is to show how whiteness operates in the background while the world is distracted.
What’s your take on this?