My comments here are less about the video and more about the author of this editorial’s comments. He writes, “Didacticism is the art of balkanization and tribalism. That’s because it shouts the same message over and over again, it appeals only to those who already want to hear it and repels those who don’t. You will see exactly the same thing with “This Is America.” Those who are inclined to write off America as inherently racist will watch it over and over again. Those who are not will merely find it irritating and ignore it.” That statement makes me wonder where I fit into his flat world view. I don’t like this kind of music, in terms of what I listen to, but I found the song itself compelling.
WARNING: Don’t watch if you are squeamish about violence and blood.
I don’t buy into the notion that America is inherently racists, but I found the [violent and shocking] imagery and symbolism to be emotional in a thoughtful way. I do agree with the author that it isn’t particularly clever or original in terms of how it sends the message but I find that the personality of Donald Glover, his body language and facial expression, give to it something that it wouldn’t have had anyone else done it. He acts, does music, and even stand up comedy. He is clearly talented. The video manages to tell a story in a short time and if we are thoughtful about it we learn something. Perhaps we don’t agree that America is inherently racist. But I am not sure that’s the entire message of the song or video.
For everyone who runs around saying we need to “Make America Great Again” there is inherent in that phrase the belief that something is wrong in America. Why make it great again if it’s already going along just great? Though most certainly I think America is still the greatest nation on earth that’s not the same as America in her greatness. If people think something is wrong with America, and you do too, then it seems common ground to at least discuss what.
If blacks think we live in a racist world there is a reason they think it. For some it is literally a matter of indoctrination, but for others it is the world they live in and see. Though I don’t believe in institutionalized racism, I do believe racism exists and should be destroyed from our society. Is racism part of our culture? That’s a deeper question. That seems the same as being institutionalized but I think it’s different.
Institutional racism is “…a pattern of social institutions — such as governmental organizations, schools, banks, and courts of law — giving negative treatment to a group of people based on their race.” When demographics alone are used, for example more blacks in prison, then it might seem that way. However, when we look at the number of crimes committed then it doesn’t seem so. I believe that much of the treatment is related more to poverty than it is race. For example, not getting the loan you need is more than likely not because you are black, but because you are poor and have no way to pay it back. Some will counter by saying the only reason you are poor is because you are black and you can’t not be poor because of institutional racism. It’s all very circular. Looking honestly at these things I think we can find other reasons, aside from color, for the treatment.
Racism as part of a culture, now that’s a different story. That, I think exists.
It’s not just an American thing though, it’s also in how people are viewed all over the world. In France, for example, they have a certain view of Americans that is based on their cultural understanding rather than their personal knowledge of how Americans really are. People in China are fascinated with “African” hair. It’s so unlike what they have. Their culture sees hair as being one thing, then suddenly they see it on someone as being something quite different. Different cultures have all sorts of biases about each other. It can be attitude, toughness, penis size, sexual stamina, physical strength. How many Americans just don’t believe that all Asians know martial arts? More than you would expect. Though these cultural differences can lead to ill-treatment they can also be a source of bonding if the people in question have a bit of understanding with one another.
Race, ethnicity, and culture, get mixed up all the time. For me it is culture that is the underlying fundamental driver of most people’s behavior and culture is the thing that can actually bind us together because we often find it so interesting to learn. I personally believe that this is the reason that “cultural appropriation” is the latest no-no from the left. They are about division and cannot allow us to blend in a satisfying way. If we can get along without them, find each other interesting without them, then we don’t need them. But the right will see something like this video and take offense at it because it expresses a point of view that might make them uncomfortable. Then they sit down at type out an entire article on how it’s not that important or was meaningless until “some” people started talking about it and making a big deal out of it. NO ART is important until some people start talking about it.
Donald Glover’s ‘This Is America’ is typical of the art championed by our cultural elites: little artistic content, but loud, didactic political messaging.