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Childish Gambino 'This Is America': All of the hidden references in hit music video

Donald Glover's latest video addresses several issues in the news

Ilana Kaplan
Friday 11 May 2018 14:14 BST
Childish Gambino performs This Is America on Saturday Night Live

While Donald Glover was hosting Saturday Night Live this past weekend, he took the stage as his alter-ego Childish Gambino to debut his new single "This Is America." Following his dynamic performance, Glover released the track online alongside its official music video, which addresses the realities of America head-on. The music video left viewers with a lot to unpack as Glover put on a one-man show full of allusions to recent news items.

From gun violence to a looming apocalypse, we've dissected the hidden meanings within Glover's latest visual masterpiece below.

The man strumming the guitar - At the beginning of the video a man who looks like Trayvon Martin's father - portrayed by Calvin The Second - plays the guitar. It's a moment that gives a nod to 17-year-old Martin, who was fatally shot by George Zimmerman in 2012.

Glover shooting the man playing a guitar - The seated man returns to the shot with a hood covering his head as Glover strikes a Jim Crow pose before shooting him.

(Credit: YouTube (Credit: YouTube)

The red cloth - This piece of fabric - brought out by a well-dressed man - is used to carefully and reverentially cover the gun Glover used to shoot the guitar-playing man. It alludes to the fact that guns seem to be prized above people to many Americans. As the dead man's body is dragged off-screen, Glover continues to smile and dance as if nothing is wrong: as if a black body isn't worth as much as the gun that was used for murder.

The murder of the choir - Glover once again addresses gun violence by shooting an assault rifle at a harmless church choir. It's likely a reference to the 2015 massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

(Credit: YouTube (Credit: YouTube)

The kids dancing - A group of kids who dance around Glover represent how the world consumes social media and entertainment as the world burns around them. It's unclear whether or not it's escapism or a coping mechanism, but it's the way life is. The kids' are seemingly clad in uniforms that South African students wear and are dancing to Blocboy JB's shoot dance to the gwara-gwara - a South African dance. The dancing also seems to be a sense of pride and protection from the chaos of the world.

Older cars - At the end of the video, cars from two to three decades ago are front-and-centre: something that possibly references Philando Castile who was murdered in his '97 Oldsmobile, or just the long legacy of fatal police shootings.

Hooded figure on a horse - A hooded figure riding a white horse gallops across the screen so quickly you might miss it, but it is likely a reference to the Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the Bible. In other words, it refers to the end of the world. According to the Bible, the first horse was white, which mimics the imagery found in "This Is America."

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