You can bet the Panther he’s alluding to is not T’Challa
Well, oh shoot. Right? I was going to post this as a comment to this post but then I saw mention of a black panther as Michael goes on a rampage about America’s racism, and decided it deserves a post of its own. Childish Gambino leaves it up to the observer what he’s trying to say. In all of the dissection of the meaning of this viral video, I have seen no one mention the allusion to this Michael Jackson video where he dances on top of a car.
Even the style of dance Gambino did on top of the car was a homage to Michael. And the video alluded to is Michael at his most radical. A decade ago. Here Michael makes a strong violent and unequivocal anti-racist statement, smashing a car with racists signs, one of which seems to say “-N—-,go home”. “Go away” is a chorus in Gambino’s video. And with his supernatural powers, Michael concludes by bringing down the “Royal Arms Hotel” in a fiery explosion. I think he was a little upset. Then he turned back into a black panther. Gambino’s anti-racism message is a little more subtle and definitely more complex.
Indeed the assassination of black music, the theme of Gambino’s video, evokes Michael Jackson. He like a number of other great black musicians had a mysterious death that reeks of assassination. No wonder Childish Gambino is running for his life at the end. Despite his service to his masters, in this case music killing, he could well end up like a number of other black celebrities. OJ Simpson, Bill Cosby, Michael Jackson, Prince, Whitney Houston… Tupac! Biggie! Sam Cooke! Otis Redding! Bob Marley! Paul Robeson! Billie Holliday!