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After its release on Saturday, Childish Gambino‘s music video for “Feels Like Summer” was met with a wave of praise and admiration.
The animated video, with character design by artist Justin Richburg, features cameos from almost every major player in the hip-hop scene, from Drake to Future to Janelle Monáe. Between Migos shooting hoops and Nicki Minaj and Travis Scott playing with blocks, it’s imagery from what the Root called “what has to be the coolest neighborhood ever.”
Guys. Childish Gambino’s video Feels Like Summer literally has me SHOOKETH. BEST CROSSOVER SINCE INFINITY WAR pic.twitter.com/UDfrqo68rH— Yusfa Ameir (@juice_fasa) September 2, 2018
But one imaginary moment in the music video is facing criticism for its depiction of Kanye West and Michelle Obama and what they represent as culture symbols. The visual (which starts around 2:05) shows Obama wrapping her arms around West, who’s wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and crying.
Some saw the moment as playing into an exhausted trope of Black women acting as saviors for men.
“Just so you know, it is not the job of Black women to heal or fix Black men,” Twitter user @LegalSojourner wrote. “Black women do not exist to be other people’s mules.”
This messaging is both confusing and infuriating. Black women have our own issues yet we're supposed to fix everyone else's. Who is there to save us? https://t.co/qubwvQmPzg— Danielle (what's kanye's wife for) Montague (@Typicalblkchick) September 2, 2018
Waiting yall to stop this nonsense that its black women job to fix black men https://t.co/nAqVnEjObH— milena maravilha (@Brasileirizada) September 2, 2018
I wish childish gambino would stop pawning black women for this. Only a man can save himself https://t.co/vPle5SS953— Yung Denim Supply (@GPackChopra) September 2, 2018
Others on Twitter interpreted the moment as heartwarming, especially since West’s mother died in 2007 and Obama is positioned as a strong maternal figure.
Another representation of Black Women standing with Black Men through their toughest times... & still be able to build them up #FeelsLikeSummer #HiddenJewels #ChildishGambino #MustSeeVid pic.twitter.com/zIwfDqqiqR— Khadijah Segura (@KhadijahSegura7) September 2, 2018
People are mad that gambinos video shows Michelle Obama hugging Kanye and they’re taking it to mean it’s black womens job to heal black men and not that Kanye could use a motherly figure in his life since he’s clearly still pretty upset after the loss of his mother— Lil Cutie Vert (@DarioColon1) September 2, 2018
I didn't see this visual of Michelle Obama hugging Kanye West and instantly think that black women are savior, I just thought it was a sweet image of Michelle Obama [a mother figure] hugging Kanye a broken man who has lost his mother and could use some wholesome motherly love. pic.twitter.com/i3z7FPRaxc— (June·Ya Boon·Ya) (@junyabunya) September 3, 2018
When the history of media shows us such narrow and stereotypical depictions of Black women, critical conversations about their framing in contemporary art are worth having.
“I’m tired of Black women needing to ‘save’ Black men so they can come to their senses about who they are and the realities of the world we live in,” Twitter user @wasteofdevotion wrote, adding in another tweet, “We all had to struggle and figure it out, don’t lean on Black women to be your savior we’re more than that.”
childish gambino depicting michelle obama as like a savior for kanye is such bs lmao i’m tired of black women needing to “save” black men so they can come to their senses about who they are and the realities of the world we live in— ugh (@wasteofdevotion) September 2, 2018
we all had to struggle and figure it out, don’t lean on black women to be your savior we’re more than that— ugh (@wasteofdevotion) September 2, 2018
H/T Twitter Moments
Kris Seavers is the IRL editor for the Daily Dot. Her work has appeared in Central Texas publications, including Austin Monthly and San Antonio Magazine, and on NPR.