Donald Glover: Art needs a deliverable

Donald Glover’s “This is America” video has Americans analyzing every aspect of the four-minute presentation. Sometimes we think the picture or film is all the deliverable that we need. Believing this creates the risk that the conversation, the questions begin and end with the picture itself. It shouldn’t, but that is what I am gathering from all the commentary regarding Mr Glover’s production.

For example, members of the daily show “The View” focused on how the production challenged America’s views on black people and violence committed against young people in the community. The interpretations flowed with commenters recognizing references to the South Carolina church shooting to black on black crime, to the relationship blacks have with the police. These realities have been documented many times before in a number of mediums. Art has been able to convey the pain and horror of violent acts carried out on black people.  As a political statement or political thought, the video was lacking. Why? Because, like all other forms of art broaching the subject of the prism of violence through which America sees the Diaspora, the video will not result in a call for action, a moving of the needle.

Which authority should this appeal be made to? Most people would say white America and the government that it dominates. White America has higher household wealth, controls almost all private capital, and dominates the nation’s elected national, state, and local offices. Given its capacity of power, white America and the government it dominates has a duty to address and provide redress of the wrongs depicted in the presentation.

Is this a good enough reason to hold white America as the authority that can answer the call to action? Would we have gone far enough in identifying the ultimate authority for redress? In response to this question I can hear others arguing that the ultimate authority is the individual. As individuals are we taking the precautions to physically defend ourselves (assuming a legal framework that allows us to do so)? To go our way? To carve out a niche where we reduce contact with negative elements that threaten us?

The art provided no answers which left its meaning flat, one dimensional. In the end, useless.

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