This is America: Are We Listening

I’ve been watching the video for Childish Gambino’s (or as Cardi B wonders, is it Donald Glover?) song “This is America.” It is an important commentary on the America that our African American brothers and sisters experience that is different from my experience as a white American. The differences of privilege makes it necessary for me to listen to the experiences of others so that I might be able to stand beside and walk with my neighbors.

There are a lot of interpretations of what Gambino is trying to communicate in the video and there are many places on the internet to find those thoughts. A couple really stand out.

1. Treatment of Guns vs. Victims: Notice that the two times guns are used in the video, Gambino’s character gives them to a man who takes great care of them, wrapping them in a cloth/towel to protect versus the way the man killed by the gun is drug offscreen. There are those who are quick to cherish our guns (things) while disregarding victims/marginalized (people).

2. Distractions vs. Injustice: The dancing in the video, especially in groups, looks like any number of pop song dance routines. It really doesn’t fit the tone of the video- which is intentional. Look in the background of the video. There is chaos happening all around. The dancing takes our attention away from the injustices and chaos being portrayed. The news cycle has trained our minds to do this.

A great example of this is the recent news story that the hurricane is Puerto Rico killed over 4,000 people rather than the official 64 listed by the government. TV news stations greatly ignored this story and instead chose to focus on the racist remarks by Roseanne Barr that got her fired and her sitcom cancelled. (Read the analysis here)

Oh yeah, Puerto Rico still needs power. (Flint, MI still doesn’t have clean drinking water).

As Christians, and especially a white Christian, it is imperative to listen to our brothers and sisters, and the experiences that they have and are having. We cannot discount what they go through because it does not line up with our experience or because it is something we cannot relate to.

Watch the video. Listen to what it says through the medium of art/music. Where are there injustices happening that we too quickly gloss over through distractions?

About Steve LaMotte

Husband of Andrea and father of four amazing children. Pastor of Orchard Church in Magnolia, Delaware. Elder in the Pen-Del Conference.
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