In 2016, it seems like blackness is taking over television. With ABC staple shows led by killer black women like Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder, and black-ish, Fox’s smash hit Empire, and OWN’s Queen Sugar, it seems like the presence of black TV shows are at an all-time high, and there’s no intention of stopping them.
With this rise of black TV came the show Atlanta led by comedian, actor, and singer/rapper Donald Glover. Since the debut, Atlanta has received rave reviews from viewers to television critics alike for being a game-changing piece of black entertainment. And while all of this praise towards this TV show and the person behind it is being thrown around, the people who know the truth about Donald Glover are having a hard time seeing this all over the place because Donald Glover does NOT deserve the black community’s support.
I first found out about Donald Glover when I saw people on Tumblr freaking out over some comedy sketch video about men raping each other called “Bro Rape” (warning: before watching the video it portrays someone being raped), and to make matters worse, in an interview for The Guardian in 2011 Donald Glover was quoted saying:
“I think it’s odd that you can’t joke about rape, when people joke about murder all the time. A lot more people are dying than getting raped. I think it’s a comedian’s job to make everything funny. Nothing is off-limits.“
Although this comment and video were years old at the time, I can’t find a single post by Donald Glover meaningfully apologizing or retracting his statements about this very sensitive issue. So for now, I’m holding him to this comment.
After reading about that, I decided to do more research on Donald Glover because I needed to know who I was liking, enjoying, and supporting before I could say “Support Donald Glover.” Further investigation on Donald Glover led me to him being called out for fetishizing Asian women, a heavy use of homophobic slurs in his lyrics, and his stand-up comedy routine in which he compares having kids to AIDS, makes confusing compliment/insult jabs at black women, and says being called the N-word by an Armenian girl made him have an intense orgasm. All of this material alone would be enough for any celebrity in 2016 to be “canceled” or at least be demanded by fans to apologize, but one could easily write this off as simply just being “comedy” and that he was just joking (though most of this isn’t funny). Still, that isn’t really what got me with Donald Glover.
Donald Glover has made a career off of being the “white-on-the-inside black friend”, which is probably why, prior to Atlanta and this faux pro-Black narrative being boosted behind his name, the majority of his “Childish Gambino” fanbase was white teenagers and young adults. Donald Glover had no problem being known as a “black friend” or a “token black” and has even stooped to the level of playing that character in multiple comedy sketches, and on television shows most notably his role in Girls criticized by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (which should be taken with a grain of salt because Jabbar doesn’t have the greatest track record either). And when he got criticized for this, he threw a tantrum on Twitter and condemned the online Black Lives Matter movement and internet activism instead of analyzing his flawed character. Being that this is the character he has played so far into and defended when you see someone like this being hailed across social media and publications as doing so many great things for black people as far as television goes you can’t help to roll your eyes.
The moral of the story is Donald Glover is not someone you should be supporting. Someone who is so unapologetic about their past being hailed as “woke” when the main characteristic of being “woke” is acknowledging your flaws and learning and growing from them does not deserve the black communities support. And quite frankly, his history of how he treats his blackness– being so quick to devalue himself to make people laugh, or to purposely take roles to be things like Lena Dunham’s sex toy on her TV show that was already criticized for lacking people of color– is unsettling to me and gives me the complete opposite vibe of “pro-black.”
Donald Glover himself may have a TV show that has pulled the veil over a lot of black people’s eyes and caused us to think he is for us, but all of the things he has done and NEVER apologized for makes it hard for me to even give him an ounce of my support. Until Donald Glover talks about who he was and the things he has said and done (and the list is far longer than what I put in this article) I don’t think black people should be standing behind Donald Glover, or his television show.
Image credit: Guy D’Alema/FX