Side Note

You don't need to remake “This is America”

Don’t break anything that doesn’t belong to you. The rule works in department stores; it definitely works when deciding whether or not you should hijack a conversation about race in the United States, just so you can talk about what it’s like living as a white woman.

Last week, YouTuber Nicole Arbour released a “Women’s Edit” of “This is America,” Childish Gambino’s latest single (which, this week, became his first No. 1 hit). The original video garnered attention for its cinematic display of American gun violence and the death of black people. On the contrary, Arbour’s video addressed her perspective on being a woman in America, littered with wack lyrics like, “You got a dream? The roofies get into ya.” as well as “Don’t catch you climbing up, ‘cause they’ll get you hoeing up.” In the video, Arbour is dressed in a black hoodie and baggy ripped jeans. She ad libs “skrrrt!” throughout, which is incredibly embarrassing the whole time.

Nicole Arbour and all her wackness.

After an initial blowback, Arbour told INSIDER that she thinks America actually needs more versions of the song. "I firmly believe the best thing that can happen in America and North America right now is for everyone to create their own version of this video and show what life is like from their side," she said. "Through this honesty, I believe we can discover a new level of empathy and understanding for each other that will ultimately and finally lead us to healing and unity that is desperately needed in society.”

Counterpoint: It’s very lame to baldly co-opt someone else’s piece of highly personal art, in order to make your own myopic commentary. You do not really need to make your own version of “This Is America,” at least not in the way Glover did it. A real artist with something to say could find another point of entry; this seems obvious, and yet here we are. While Arbour’s video hurt my ears and eyes, it warmed my heart — not only to see someone so confident in their ability to remake one of the most captivating music videos of recent memory, but to see someone so determined at the worst moment possible to bring awareness to the plights of (white) womanhood. I can’t stop Arbour from living her truth, but she should think about why it looks like this.