Socialist Worker

This Is America is a powerful commentary on racism in the US

Issue No. 2604

Childish Gambino comments on 21st century America

Childish Gambino comments on 21st century America


Donald Trump argues it’s safe to carry a gun because that stops you being a victim of knife crime. In that context This is America, the latest single by Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino, is a welcome breath of fresh air.

The video had been viewed 70 million times on YouTube in the first five days since its release.

Black people are gunned down. Song and dance distracts from the chaos and carnage taking place. The video questions the relationship between entertainment, race and racism.

It opens with Gambino dancing behind a man playing a guitar. He strikes a pose from the racist Jim Crow era. Then he casually shoots the guitarist in the back of the head before announcing, “This is America”.

He performs dance moves with a group of school kids. In the background a riot escalates.

And them he casually shoots down a gospel choir in a reference to the Charleston massacre. He also references Stephon Clark, shot by the police who claimed they thought his phone was a gun, before repeating “This is America”.

The video ends with Gambino running to escape a white gang.

Some people have criticised the violence in the video.

This misses the point he is making about a racist society in which black popular entertainment is celebrated but black lives don’t matter.

This is an excellent commentary on 21st century America.


A reminder of shaking the world 

This small exhibition is not particularly dazzling—but is another reminder of a year when working class people’s struggles shook the world and inspired creativity.

The silkscreen posters familiar to many, from the Atelier Populaire in Paris, are reproduced on one wall.

More unusual is a display of photo books from around the world, created and inspired by the protests of 1968.

Japan was perhaps not the country most often associated with the radical movements that sprung up that year.

However, it was one of the centres for photobooks in the 1960s and 70s.

Worth a look if you are passing by.

Anna Blake

1968: Protest and the Photobook
Boilerhouse Level 2
West Tate Modern Bankside
London SE1 9TG Free

Looking at locomotives 

A new display explores more than 200 years of Glasgow’s train building heritage.

This year marks 50 years since steam engines stopped running on mainline railways across Scotland.

This small exhibition explores the history of locomotive and steam powered transport in Glasgow.

Looking at Locomotives
Riverside Museum Pointhouse Place
Glasgow G3 8RS Free

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