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“This is America”

There’s a music video garnering a lot of attention right now for a song called “This is America” performed by Donald Glover, directed by Ibrahim Ake. You should watch the video and read this indiewire write-up about it’s meaning and significance.
In the article, Glover says that he hopes to normalize blackness, and he’s tapping into the tension between black cultural expressing such as dancing and music, and the conflict or dilemma embued by the fact that our culture has and continues to do violence towards that blackness. So there’s a risk inherent in the act of expression.
This discussion calls to mind another black artist, a photojournalist who premiered his first feature documentary film this year at Sundance. His film is called Hale County This Morning, This Evening, and his name is RaMell Ross. I think it’s worth it to revisit my review of the film from back in January. Ross seeks to re-image the black experience, insofar as the images we have associated with the blackness have not come out of the community, but have often been provided by outside commentators or media influencers. His films is a quiet, slice of life rumination on the beauty of the everyday in Hale County, part of the south, historically the site of a majority of slave plantations, and the moments of beauty that he captures allow the humanity of authentic black experience to rise to the surface.
Check out my review here: