Admittedly, almost two weeks after the release of “This is America” by Childish Gambino, aka Danny Glover, I am still fascinated by Gambino’s lyric “Damn, I’m so pretty.” Like our society, I to struggle with concepts of beauty, vanity and the relevance of it all. However, I have come to learn that even our personal issues can be distractions impeding our ability to move the Black agenda forward. And so, the question continues to remain, NOW WHAT?
With Black Panther dust still thick and permeating the atmosphere, the “This is America” video was timed perfectly for instant viral success depicting the irony in America’s obsession with entertainment amidst real issues inclusive of our numbness towards gun violence and our cultural escapism. According to Bustle.com, amassing “more than 110 million views, Gambino bumped Drake’s “Nice for What” chart topper from the number 1 spot where it had been “firmly planted for the last 15 weeks.” Not only is Gambino’s intense in your face content worthy of our attention, it demands solutions.
The video opens with a live guitarist who resembles Tracy Martin, Trayvon Martin’s father, and an unseen vocalist singing, “We just wanna party…party just because.” And although I realize this is a set up, I am deeply engulfed by the shirtless dancer. In fact, I begin to critique him from head to toe analyzing his hair, his physique and even the simplicity of his attire. Even sadder, distracted by my own unnecessary opinions, I watched the video several more times before being able to focus on the real issues happening beyond the façade. The execution style shooting, the killing spree, and even the careful handling of guns affected me for only seconds before I am pulled back in by the swag of Gambino. Ooh, he so pretty.
The truth is we are living in distracted times. We Americans are bombarded with millions of outlets vying for our attention and our dollars. Everyone is blogging, but no one is discussing, NOW WHAT. In the video, we see Jim Crow murder stances, the ignoring of mental health issues, and even a blind next generation. It is as obvious as the pale horse galloping in the video’s background, that we can no longer afford to miss the opportunity to be a part of social change. Personal issues aside, our activists, socialprenuers and philanthropists require our support.
According to Forbes.com, “Interior and exterior impressions of the United States and how it is portrayed and perceived can impact everything from foreign trade to cultural exchange. This video shines a light on perceptions and realities and invites people to discuss it.” I understand answering the barrage of NOW WHAT commentary can be challenging as solutions will require cohesive messaging and patience. Case in point, in my last On The Scene article, I addressed the notation that Black radio personalities working for White owned urban stations must address the economics of it all. Meanwhile, as Black Media, Community Influencers, and Stakeholders meet to discuss solutions, Black audiences must raise their level of consciousness to support Black owned media outlets like never before.
No matter how we pretty them up, distraction tactics are real, so let’s not miss the message. Accordingly, I am encouraging forward thinkers to move these conversations beyond their circles of influence and allow opportunities to listen to other perspectives while serving as boots on the ground to push the Black agenda forward. On Saturday, June 2, I am hosting the Second Annual Pa-rents of Murdered Kids Prayer Breakfast. Details are posted here and on my social media. It is time that we challenge status quo, make relevant correlations and discover NOW WHAT solutions.