Rapper Childish Gambino prompts racial discussion
Published: Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 06:05
Students listened to rapper Childish Gambino in the George Read North Lounge last week to prompt discussion about racial identity in music and the concept of “real hip-hop.”
Pamoja, the university’s Black Student Center magazine, sponsored the event called the “Childish Gambino Talk-Back & Listening Party.” Childish Gambino, whose real name is Donald Glover, is a writer, rapper, comedian and recent college graduate. Gambino is also an actor on the television show “Community.” His lyrical message is about his personal struggles dealing with race as he was growing up.
Junior Saliym Cooper, an editor at the magazine and one of the event organizers, said his goal was to start the conversation about important and often neglected issues such as identity, discrimination and acceptance. Gambino did not attend the event, but Cooper said his music was a way to bring people together.
“We chose Childish Gambino, not only for buzz, but also for the messages he represents and the things he talks about, which is pertinent to people we know, whether black, white or biracial,” he said.
Cooper said Gambino’s message relates to all listeners because he brings attention to issues that are important, but often too taboo to be discussed casually.
“I really believe he speaks to the black individual; how we’re misrepresented as a race, yet trying to turn negatives into positives,” he said.
Cooper and other event organizers asked the audience questions inspired by Gambino’s lyrics. He asked about students’ thoughts on interracial tensions and why they felt these tensions existed.
Sophomore Jon Seton said he thinks the issue remains due to ignorance and lack of education.
“Not every stereotype you read about is true,” he said. “You have to know about your race and about other people. If you educate yourself on a global aspect, if you know more about other people’s culture, there would be much less fighting and interracial tension.”
Cooper asked why students felt Gambino’s message was so effective and why people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds were able to relate to his work.
Freshman Andrew Warner said he is a fan of Gambino’s music because his content is different than other mainstream artists.
“Gambino uses his popularity to make great music, but he never forgets to write about meaningful issues,” he said. “He educates the public while entertaining them. It’s great.”
Warner said he appreciated the style of discussion at the event.
“I’m definitely glad I came,” he said. “Not only did I get to listen to one of my favorite artists, but I also enjoyed listening to the perspectives shared tonight.”
Cooper said he was happy with the participation and the fact that the discussion remained civil and respectful, despite some disagreements.
“We are all one,” he said. “We’re not different. Though we may have different shades of skin, we are one. We should be unified.”