I remember sitting in my room, more specifically lying down in my bed. I was greeted by a bright glare from the sun beaming through my window. I rolled over checked any unread messages I probably didn’t have following with me scrolling through Instagram. The first post I see is from Tracee Ellis Ross. It is a video with the front frame of Childish Gambino, Donald Glover, in the stance of what seems to be him shaping his arms and hands into the form of an imaginary gun with young black youth surrounding him with unnerving faces. The post was captioned “THANK YOU.”
I pushed play. To unveil Childish Gambino surrounded by the same youth in a more light and airy sense as they all dance but soon enough the scene cut to the front frame I first described. I continued scrolling through Instagram, almost ignoring what I just saw as I was unable to grasp the full picture by the clip. I see another post about the video, this time from Naomi Campbell, then I realized this is what my entire feed consisted of. I was curious and eager to unfold the messages within the video and song.
I moved to YouTube. I watched the video, then I watched it again and finally one more time. I sat in silence letting the video nest in my mind while the lyrics danced through my ears. I am now sitting up on my bed completely taking in the awe of what I was watching and the reality of it all. My palms had gotten a little clammy and I had a knot in my chest from all the symbolism in the video and the accuracy in the words. I must have sat there for another five minutes reflecting on the feeling of the accurate representation of being a black person living in America.
Naturally, I then binged everything Childish Gambino/Donald Glover. Donald Glover is a 34-year-old creator, writer, performer, singer and he dances really good. I was so intrigued by how talented he was in almost every creative aspect. “This Is America” video was not the start of Glover being a narrator of black life in America, he also portrays this in his show Atlanta where he not only stars in but is also a head writer and occasionally directs.
As I began my binge I started with season two of Atlanta episode six, “Teddy Perkins.” Probably one of my favorites episodes of television in television history. The moment I first watched it was the moment I knew I wanted to dedicate an article to him, where I knew I could rant and rant about his creative ability. “This Is America” was an added bonus of his creative cleverness to relate art to modern life. After watching that episode the first time after it aired, April 5, 2018, I was confused and “shook.”
I started my binge there because I remembered feeling slightly the way I did after watching “This Is America.” In the sense of reflecting on what I saw and researching what everything meant and I wanted to continue that feeling of curiousness.
The first time I watched the episode I was in my room with the only light coming from the moving pictures reflected by the episode by the end of it, I had light coming from two added lamps. There was a eerie-ness of Teddy Perkins. The kind of eerie-ness where you feel the character may be in the next room. I was shocked when I felt there was also something relatable about him. Relatable about the way he needed to be the best and be great. There were relatable moments about the pain he went through to be great.
I had become obsessed with the episode. I researched everything about it. The first question: Who played Teddy Perkins? I searched and searched for this answer, but it went unanswered until many figured it was Donald Glover playing the chilling roll. Which is another example of how developed Donald Glover is while creating by keeping the main character masked while many crave to know who he is. This episode was the first time I noticed how creative he can get with metaphors and symbolism in his work. The symbolism of great art comes from great pain.
Many people refer to Donald Glover as one of the most influential creators of our generation, according to Time. His ability to be creative and concerning prove that. Glover has a way of making black youth, black America feel heard in a relatable aspect to not only black people but all ethnicities. This is the new form of communication, the only form of black America being heard and artist such as Donald Glover, Kendrick Lamar and Beyonce are making people listen.