This is for
the ones who believe a music video can be a text that can be read, examined, and interrogated
the ones who know and witness the immense brilliance of their students
the ones who seek ways to connect and empower students through dialogue and debate
the ones who have learned a thing or two about art of life and life of art from their students
This past weekend Donald Glover who also performs under the name Childish Gambino hosted and was the musical guest on the show Saturday Night Live. In case you missed it, he also dropped a music video titled This Is America. See the entire video below:
At the time of writing this post, it has been viewed 42,059,643 times on YouTube. It has also confirmed for his longtime fans that his talent is limitless and this video is finally giving him larger spotlight in matters of culture. Even if you view it once, the juxtaposition of content and tone alone in this video can last an entire hour’s worth of class discussion. But there is more, there is symbolism, satire, and symmetry in this work of the highest caliber. As a service to other English teachers, I wanted to capture some of the cultural discussion around this video that have circulated in the media, in case, you or a colleague of yours wanted to bring this video as a point of discussion in your classroom. This video is probably suitable for high school students (ages 13+) but you know your students better than anyone else. See an (in)complete list below of relevant resources below:
Doreen St. Félix, staff writer at the New Yorker writes, “There is an inescapable disdain sewn into the fabric of “This Is America.” The very fact that the dance scenes are already being chopped into fun little GIFs online, divorcing them from the video’s brutality, only serves to prove his point.”
In this piece by Mahita Gajanan, it is noted “the use of so many famous dance moves show how ultra-popular pieces of culture lose their specificity over time as they become more ubiquitous.”
Round up from The New York Times offers some of the most concise commentary on this work in the present moment.
Teachers aren’t waiting for resources, check out this tweet below, I would love to see the lesson used in it.
Some student products from the #ThisisAmerica lesson Plan I came up with for today. Looked for figurative language, literary devices. We annotated and analyzed symbols in the music video. @donaldglover @chrisemdin #HipHopEd pic.twitter.com/3WTpqEk47I
— Nat Akery (@ladyakery) May 7, 2018
I’d love to hear and learn from you if you plan on using #ThisIsAmerica in your classroom. Let me know if you end up using any of the readings included above. Thanks!