Racism and Gun Violence in "This is America"

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This song is meant to portray how Americans are always on their phones, trying to keep up with the current trends and are ignorant of the gun and violence that is happening around them. The opening moments of “This Is America”, 00:37-00:54, shows Glover grooving to the music then suddenly shoots the man who has been tied up with a head cover. Glover then hands in the gun to another person whilst saying “This is America”. Meanwhile, the dead man’s body is left lying on the ground, only to be dragged off-screen, all while Glover continues his performance, smiling and dancing like nothing has happened. The immediate change in his mood shows that Glover is not affected by the shooting at all. Since he shot the man for living.

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The lyrics “This is America” portrays how America looks to the eyes of foreigners like myself. It shows how black people in America are stereotyped to be terrorists, assassins, murderers. And it does not have to be Glover, it could be anyone. In the next few seconds, 1:02-1:07, shows a few people running around with crowbars in the background. The fact that people did not notice the background at first shows how distracted we are to the current situation by current trends. Even I myself had to replay the music video a few times. It is also hard to try to not get affected by Glover’s dancing and concentrate on the background for his dance moves consists of those trendy dances that you see on social media such as Instagram. At 1:10-1:17, Glover and a group of kids in school uniforms are seen dancing, as a distraction to the rioting in the background. This suggests that we have been so blinded by trying to adopt black culture; which you could see by the Blocboy Jb dance that Glover mimics at 1:20-1:22, whilst ignoring the racial injustices they face. The reason as to why I know the dance move is because it has gone viral in the Instagram community and that I’ve also been trying to perfect the dance for a while now, to which I failed terribly. “Look at how I’m livin’ now. Police be trippin’ now. Yeah, this is America.

Guns in my Area. I got the strap. I gotta carry ‘em”, these lyrics highlights the crime and danger due to the possession of guns. Even police officers suggest that people in America should own a gun should anything happen. Which I find it to be ridiculous. A lot of non-Americans like myself feel that banning guns altogether or heavily restricting them is the answer to stopping random killings. Because it has been proven that America, who has the most gun ownership, deals with more crime and shootings than those countries who bans gun policy. Owning a gun does not make you a murderer, but what will happen if a gun falls under the wrong hands? If by having a gun means that you will be able to protect yourself by killing another individual, then it is no different than being a murderer. As the destruction plays out, Glover raps “This is a celly. That’s a tool”.

The “celly” refers to how cell phones owned by black people are mistaken as weapons, guns. It could also mean as a tool for documentation. Instead of spreading awareness, people use the documentation as a source of entertainment. As a foreigner, I don’t understand as to why people would freak out and take action if these things happen to white people, whereas black people are ignored as if there is nothing wrong with that.The final moments of the music video shows Glover running out of the darkness, chased by a group of white men, looking terrified with the lyrics “You just a black man in this world. You just a barcode”. Suggests that after all that Glover did, the killing, the dancing, he is still being hunted and will always be in danger because he is black. In my opinion, I think that Glover did a great job of using his influence to bring awareness towards the racial trauma and racist violence that the black community encounters. By giving an honest portrait of the black American experience, Glover satisfies the black community’s search for a real voice in pop culture. This music video makes a point about the value of black bodies in American society, and how when they aren’t being put as entertainment caricatures, they are being subjected to violence and brutality.

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