childish gambino

The One Where Donald Glover Forgets Black Women. Again.

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By Jaylin Mitchell

Childish Gambino, also known as Donald Glover, recently released a video for his new single “This is America.” The song revealed many hideous truths about America and the part black people often play in it. It featured a variety of symbolism and themes such as (but not limited to): gun control, minstrel shows, police brutality, protests, capitalism, marijuana, and the death and birth of a corrupt nation. But even with the dizzying array of issues Glover managed to include, I was still left longing for something: myself. Watching all of this, you'd think Black femmes were completely absent from even the correctives to history.

On Black Twitter, there were many fans who disagree with not only Gambino's direction, but the exposure and praise he received from it.

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Black femmes have especially been giving Glover's work some mixed reviews; the community hasn't forgotten the ugly misogyny in his past where he ridiculed the women of his own race. We are tired of being misrepresented and underappreciated in media, even in media meant for black audiences.  

Some of Glover’s other projects also exclude softer images of women and femmes. His hit Golden Globe-winning TV show “Atlanta” also features a lack of female writers and directors. With 21 episodes aired, only three of were written by a woman, and they were all by the same writer, Stefani Robinson. Only two episodes were directed by women.

In the season 2 episode “Helen,” the writers touched upon the box Van (Zazie Beetz) is placed in by Gambino’s character Earn. Van talks about how people only see her as Earn's girlfriend or their child’s mother. After she makes this statement, there is no follow up to this observation. Instead, we see her character lose in so many ways. Later in the series, we follow her and her group of Black femme friends to a party in the episode “Champagne Papi.” The Black women in this episode are on a quest to meet Drake at his mansion party, and they are represented with no other goal in mind. This image of wanting Instagram fame and wealth amongst Black femmes is a common theme Donald resorts to time and time again. He gives no depth to female characters and only places them in self-centered situations. Where are the images of Black femmes who have aspirations like their black male counterparts on the show?

Women writers and directors in this series are mostly only assigned to female-leading episodes. Does Donald do this to help or hinder the female characters by putting only feminine perspectives into their storyline? Why can’t any of the women writers or directors share their insight on the male characters?

Donald Glover has addressed these concerns in the past, most famously in 2013 in a note he posted on Instagram.

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Even though this was written near the start of his solo music career, he still brought his insecurities to the surface. The floating assumptions about his misogyny and inner hatred for his own race has always surrounded him. “This is America” has only brought back unaddressed issues. Some have not forgotten Gambino still shows what internalized racism and misogyny can do to a person when it is avoided.

At one one of the last moments of the video we see the R&B singer SZA, sitting on the hood of a car patiently watching as Gambino dances on the top of another car to the following lyrics:

“America, I just checked my following list and

You Mothafuckas owe me.

Grandma told me,
Get your money, Black Man( Black Man) x 4.”

Why did Gambino choose these specific lyrics to not only dance to but for SZA to watch him? Is it a symbol of Black Womyn's struggles in being forced to wait on the sidelines of a male-dominated movement? Are we waiting for Black men to stop enriching themselves by giving (white) America what they want? SZA is not only the one observing Glover as he entertains and proceeds to “get his money;” there is also a quick glimpse of an outside spectator recording this interaction on a notepad before the screen turns dark. Is this symbolic of how people keep tabs on black social movements, or does it represent how closely watched black people are monitored in America? Or is it both?

Yes, there is much to learn and discover from this video, and we're not done learning. As some have asked, why is Donald getting so much praise while Beyoncé’s “Formation” video was often pushed away, as evidenced in the Washington Post article below, where the author expressed concern about Beyoncé’s politically charged statements:

“Beyoncé waited until black politics was so undeniably commercial that she could make a market out of it.”

I believe giving Donald props doesn’t take away from the success and message of Black feminists such as Beyoncé and Janelle Monae. We need multiple perspectives on the black experience so we can flourish and collaborate. Having intersectional experiences and acknowledging them allows black artists to thrive and expand to a bigger audience. We need to recognize and respect all perspectives and learn from them all.

So to Donald Glover, this is an open letter addressing those things you overlooked. Black women are tired of being a stepping stool in your rise to fame. and a little appreciation from your open-minded creativity would be nice. We would love to be included in this conversation.

'Women's Edit' Of This Is America Video Is Classic, Cringeworthy White Feminism

By Arrisa Robinson

As I watched Nicole Arbour’s “women’s edit” of Donald Glover’s (stagename Childish Gambino) “This is America,” one question repeatedly occurred to me…

“Why is she doing this?”

Even after I watched it, the question still lingered. Throughout, Arbour’s message focused primarily on issues women face today. However, she conveyed a much larger message to the audience: the problems inherent in white feminism.

After Childish Gambino’s latest music video “This Is America” was released, critics swarmed him with praise for its artistic yet political statements on America’s most controversial issues. Glover managed to not only create a catchy tune just in time for summer, he showcased the extensive cruelty suffered by black people in America. The video for “This Is America” was more an expression of America’s chaotic past and its disastrous effects on the present. And Glover offered an insightful perspective on the many topics he touched on.


Nicole Arbour, however, managed to singlehandedly erase everything Glover established and draw attention to an issue that wasn’t even on the radar (at the moment anyway), that of disregarding the harm done to women of color and focus solely on the issues an average white woman has. There were plenty of other topics Arbour could’ve touched on but didn’t. Today, black women have to worry about being pulled over and killed by police officers. Or consider all the Native American women who have vanished just over the past few years. Or the human trafficking of girls throughout the U.S. Breastfeeding, aging and trying to shatter the glass ceiling in the workplace are hardly the biggest issues right now for most women of color.  

This is classic “white feminism,” which refers to the ignorance white women have concerning issues related to minorities. We as a society see this happen from time to time through not fully acknowledging the women who struggle with racism, sexism, or ageism, to neglecting to discuss the ways in which the words of a white woman words can be disruptive to women of color. For instance, there was Lena Dunham’s oblivious response to her former colleague, Murray Miller, after he was accused of sexual assault by actress Aurora Perrineau. Dunham is a self-proclaimed feminist as well as an extremely wealthy woman, and Perrineau is a black woman with a much lower profile than Dunham. Dunham’s ignorant response made via her Twitter page was seen as a hypocritical and disrespectful tactic to brush off a black woman. Another instance would be Rose McGowan very nonchalantly stating that being called a woman is as bad as being called the n-word...because that’s apparently not offensive to the people that are women and also black.

So why is this such a problem for us?

Whether or not Nicole Arbour had good intentions (which she probably did), her way of spreading her message was utterly ignorant, to say the least. For starters, Arbour discredited the magnificent and purposeful work of an artist by appropriating his work. As an African-American woman myself, this was something I did not appreciate, because I know firsthand that black people already have to work twice as hard as the average white person to get even half the recognition. White people have a distinct privilege in this country, whether it’s being 21 times less likely to be shot and killed by police than black people (The New Progressive) or being 78% more likely to be accepted to a university than a black student (The New Progressive). Even for me, going to college is a tremendous accomplishment, whereas some of my peers take it for granted. So obviously, whatever it is that we, as black people, do is a big deal for us because we’ve fought to overcome statistics to be recognized for something positive.


But appropriating black culture-or even other cultures-is something a lot of white women do. Just look at Katy Perry, who has appropriated both Japanese and black culture. Instead of anger, I feel more curiosity as to what American culture represents to Americans, and why there is a trend of copying others. While we are notorious for being the land of the free, there are still some of us who do not accept the actual people behind the cultures. Perry’s actions were just a slap in the face, because she chose to acknowledge only a certain aspect of a specific culture by imitating them, and not even involving the people within it.

Nicole Arbour is not the first white woman to step on the toes of a minority, but she is adding to the problem. She could’ve used this opportunity to discuss injustices faced by African-American, Native-American, or Latin/Hispanic-American women rather than just her own.

When confronted with the backlash, Arbour was initially defensive, but eventually she disabled all comments to prevent further discussion. This inability to discuss why her video was such an infuriating topic for some is also another common aspect of white feminism. By not discussing the main issue at stake and instead becoming self-justifying and stubborn to any opinion different from her own, she revealed herself to be another person who is unable to discuss racial issues. Even through a virtual apology captured by TMZ, Arbour seemed anything but genuine or affected by the feelings of others about her appropriating Glover’s work to focus on her own issues. It reminded me of Lena Dunham’s and Rose McGowan’s apologies. Both were issued virtually, but did the backlash actually have an impact on these women? Did they actually change their mindsets for the better? It’s hard to tell nowadays, even though so many people share their thoughts and feelings via social media.When it all comes down to it, how do you know if they are actually affected? For Arbour, all she had to do was say “Sorry!” and move on with the rest of her night. She’d gotten her spotlight, even if itt had to be through a poor execution of someone else’s spectacular piece of art.


Arbour may think the responses of others to be cruel or downright annoying. Maybe she believes we should just “get over it” as so many other people in her exact position have told us to do. Or perhaps she truly cares about how she is being portrayed and would like to clarify that she does not think less of other races. In either scenario, it does not change the fact that she put her heart and soul into a cringeworthy cover video fully displaying her white feminism all over the Internet and sloppily offered an insincere apology.

Nicole Arbour will not be the last white feminist to cross our screens, and she’ll most likely continue to do it, since she doesn’t consider her behavior harmful. And if on several occasions, a woman with so much privilege sees no wrongdoing in her actions even after they provoke audiences of particular demographics, then we have a much larger issue on hand. But then again, should we really expect much? This is America, after all.