The “This Is America” Dancers Look African

In recent years I have been very vocal about Black Nationalism as a social stance. I believe that all Black people have a connection and should embrace it globally. I do not believe in Black capitalism nor do I believe in Capitalism in general. What I believe is that if Black people unite, we can see that we suffer from the same issues wherever we are. And we can build on that.

I watched the live performance of Childish Gambino’s This Is America on SNL. I identified these dancing children as African. Meaning hailing directly from Africa. Making no stops to the islands or the West during the Transatlantic Slave Trade. I don’t know if I’m right. But what I did feel is that they FELT African to me. The music and the dancing made me feel that way. There was a vibe.

People are talking about a South African dance that I never knew existed. They are speaking like the Africaness of the music and dancing really was an afterthought or a non-thought. That it’s African inspired. But it always stops there. But I FELT the motherland when I listened. I’ve never been to the continent but I felt it. How can we explain this?

I think Gambino purposely put African elements in this video. The effects of America does not stop at the borders. What America does affects the world. Did no one else think of Sarafina when they saw the video? Maybe I’m reaching. But I couldn’t help thinking about it while watching live and watching the video. I even noted it in my last piece.

“The young dancers hit each beat with fervor. The backup singers sang harmoniously and I felt Africa upon me.”

Americans tend not to look past America and this applies to African Americans. We tend to think that we, African Americans, define Blackness for the entire Black world and then wonder why other Black people, who don’t deny their African descent, will say they aren’t Black. Black is both a race and an ethnicity. Black, for many others, specifically means African American. African Americans say things like “they aren’t Black like us” but expect solidarity and unity while putting our Blackness and our struggle above all others. We absolutely blame the others for their choice to be different; to be other than Black as defined by African Americans. How dare they embrace their Latin heritage? Why do Jamaicans speak broken English? Why can’t Africans lose their accents? How dare they speak Spanish? How dare they NOT speak English? This Is America.

I am really waiting for Glover to tell us what his vision was. I’m reading so many takes from all over. They are really good and insightful but I can’t imagine that these seemingly African children, these African beats, these African sounds aren’t connected to Africa even though This Is America.