Red, White, Blue and Black: This Is America Decoded
We were ready to decode, except we couldn’t quite put our finger on why the person who was left for dead in the beginning was alive in the end. That’s where a few smart people on the internet come in to play. We landed on a post of a popular IG Influencer where there was hot debate on whether this video was fake woke or relevant to the culture. Under the post three words in a comment stuck out from the pack “Jim Crow Pose”. Welp, that was enough to go to our handy dandy Google and enter those key words. We couldn’t be the code cracker cracking codes without it. We landed on a site from Ferris State University ( yes the Big Rapids, MI School that partied hard in the 90’s). Not only did we see a picture of the famous Jim Crow Pose that somehow got lost in the mental rolodex, we also saw the character Jim Crow holding a banjo. Thomas D Rice, a white comic and creator of the character, is credited for being the father of minstrel shows where whites dressed in slave clothes and blackface mocking blacks as ignorant, lazy and joyous .
Here’s our interpretation of “This Is America”; we are not in Donald Glover’s head, so drag us with kid gloves if we miss something. Childish Gambino casually walks up to a hooded black man with bare feet sitting in a chair and shoots him in the head while standing in the “Jim Crow Pose”. The gun is handled with care while the body of the man was drug away like a bag of waste. We believe the first death represents the end of the system of Jim Crow. Gambino and the kids in the uniforms represent an ever evolving minstrel show that never dies it just changes choreography. As kids in school uniforms dance for viral internet videos, the education in America is being eroded by lack of funding and legislation supporting for profit charter schools. The video’s background shows chaos, riots, people making it rain and cops on the main floor. On the top floor we see a much smaller group with no one maintaining order, no police presence and a person thrown to their death with no immediate consequence representing the ruling class. The choir being shot references the 2015 Charleston Church Massacre where 9 were murdered and a 10th victim played dead in order to survive. Enter a black figure on a white horse which to us represents drug overdoses caused by opiod/heroin addiction in the white community and the paradox as it relates to the 80’s crack epidemic in the black community . There are kids recording the dancing minstrel show on their cellphones and they are completely oblivious to the fact that their world is burning up behind them. The kids in uniforms scatter when Childish Gambino stands in a shooting stance with no gun in his hand referencing the brainwashing of America to fear even unarmed blacks as dangerous. As the video winds down we see that Jim Crow is alive and well and playing to a captive audience. With a for profit prison system that preys on people of color, subpar schools, housing discrimination and not being able to sit down in a coffee shop, America 2018 is a hard pill to swallow. In the end we (black people) are literally running for our lives.
If all of that wasn’t enough he payed homage to Richard Pryor, wearing nearly the same outfit the comedy icon wore decades before, posing in front of the American flag. There is a lot of debate in the cosmos on whether someone is fake woke if they date outside their race. To that we say, unless you’re in the sunken place, there is no one more aware of their blackness than the only black person at white Thanksgiving. Congratulations to the entire crew that created a video masterpeice that has been seen around the world and will be debated on college campuses for years to come.
We’ll leave you with a quote from the legendary comedian Richard Pryor. “I went to Zimbabwe. I know how white people feel in America now; Relaxed! Cause when I heard the police car I knew they weren’t coming after me!”
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