Do it For the Kids: Children Break Down Childish Gambino’s “This is America”

Jesse Taylor turns to the children to help break down Childish Gambino's "This is America."
By    May 11, 2018

Art by DeShaun Craddock

Jesse Taylor is wondering who will survive in America.

Donald’s Glover’s new music video, “This Is America,” (back as Childish Gambino after supposedly retiring his musical pseudonym) has been overly analyzed like a previously unreleased track from Bob Dylan and John Lennon remixed by Yoko Ono with bars from Lauryn Hill. In other words, the last thing you need is one more think piece on Glover’s work of art, especially from me, a middle-aged white man.

However, my wife and I thought having our four kids watch the video with us would open up some interesting thoughts and discussions as a family. So without any context, we had them watch it and take five minutes to write down their thoughts. Then they watched it again and we discussed it together. Here is what each of the four kids had to say about “This Is America.”

Jalen: 17 months

The human dancing machine, Jalen, got his groove on as soon as the music started playing. Then, he stopped dancing, watched, and took a seat on the floor. As the picture above shows, he looked captivated by what his saw on TV. He didn’t finish the writing assignment, because he’s not even two years old yet and can’t write his thoughts on paper or type them on a MacBook. We’ll check back with him in about four years.

Jackson: 11 years old

“I liked the African music that started out in the video. The rapper/singer of this story shot some people. I think this has to do with all the shooting going on. It may be about the freedom in America, and how people use it to get to do what they want. Maybe this video is saying something about ‘Donald Dump’ and how’s he’s making it hard to be a black person. The police were there but didn’t do anything when the choir was shot but chase other people around. What stood out to me is how the song said, ‘I don’t wanna die’ and ‘black man.’”

Amaya: 11 years old

“People are racist in America and that’s what this video is showing. People are getting hurt and committing suicide because of racism and all the shootings that are happening. Too many people are dying from guns and bad people in America.”

Matias: 13 years old

“Everyone looked so happy and then the rapper shot everyone. Innocent and happy people are getting killed with guns. I think the rapper is saying that America needs to change its ways and we need to find out how to prevent so much murder with guns. They were doing dances that people do at my school. It made me miss some of the stuff that was happening in the video. At the end, was the rapper running from people, or running with them? What stood out the most to me was how they took the guns from the rapper with a cloth. Like the guns are really important.”

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