Donald Glover is a rare gem of the new generation for Black creatives. As a triple threat he can sing, act and put on an amazing show with the bonus of pushing the Black narrative to different heights. Although successful in the music world, his depiction of the modern Black experience in Atlanta earned him the title of pioneer. The hit show embodies emotion, history, real situations and daily life through the Black lens. With the series coming to an end, viewers question if this depiction is accurate.
In a recent interview Donald explained his frustration with the lack of support from the Black community for his show. A storyteller for the Black experience he has always used multiple waves of media to push the Black agenda. In response to the recent backlash, Donald continues to express how everything he does is for his people. As we dive into Atlanta, we focus on the modern Black experience through various lenses.
Donald Glover Creates a Familiar Feeling with Atlanta
In 2016 Atlanta premiered on FX, a moment that would shift the way Black people viewed their place in the world. Donald’s intentions involved racism, whiteness and the modern Black experience. He also touches on Afro-Surrealism, a concept worth exploring. Coupled with pieces of history, the series provides a space for conversation without judgement.
In the first season, Donald lays out the story of Paper Boi played by Brian Tyree Henry and Earnest Marks played by Donald himself. Both characters desire for more a better life, as the live their Black experience. Throughout the series we see them excel, while acknowledging the bold power of whiteness. The storyline involves Earnest helping his cousin Paper Boi get discovered for his rap music. While stepping in as his manager Earnest struggles with no money and a family to provide for. His family consisting of his daughter and her mother Val, give Earnest a drive and motivation we commonly see in the Black dynamic.
Atlanta Shows The Impact of Whiteness in Black Culture
As the seasons continue different scenarios show the effect that racial boundaries have. In season 2 the episode titled “Teddy Perkins” shocked fans everywhere in the most radical fashion. Donald who rocked a full white-face make up look, portrayed a fair-skinned man displaying odd behavior. The episode was one of the most controversial episodes as it touched on the effect of abuse to breed success within the Black household.
Furthermore elaborating on accepting blackness, season 3 of the show gave a historical point of view we all need to see. The opener detailed to the history of Lake Lanier and the 2018 Hart Family murders. Both stories explain a common theme of Black people being disposable or easy to get rid of. Viewers everywhere especially the Black community felt shock after it aired.
Continuing through the season Donald explores another theme of racial practices being normalized all over the world. With the setting in Amsterdam a racial practice known as Sinterklass caught the cast by surprise. White people in black face crowded the streets with Earnest & Paper Boi in disbelief at the celebration.
What It Means to be Black Right Now
With attention to detail Atlanta shows realistic outcomes of the Black experience in a clever way. Touching on the topic of reparations, Atlanta’s episode “The Big Pay Back” gave viewers a look at what reparations would mean in today’s world. Entertaining to say the least, we watch relatives of white slave owners lose everything as a new world order takes effect. A visual that is both fitting and fair when speaking about what Black people deserve.
A surprising cameo from actor Liam Neeson gave a glimpse on the way white people view other Black people. He made a cringy remark about wanting to hurt the first Black man he saw on the street after a friend was attacked. Liam’s comments made headlines further revealing a racial mindset still so prominent in America.
Another cameo from the late Kevin Samuels touched on Black culture using metaphors to verify the blackness of a person. Receiving viral praise, Kevin’s character along with the premise of the episode further solidified the greatness of Atlanta. In addition to reparations the ideal of blackness as a whole is explored through the female lead Van played by Zazie Beetz. Her character struggles with finding her purpose and who she is outside of her daily life. She takes on another identity while ignoring her mental and emotional issues, a situation far too common amongst Black people.
Atlanta is Black Culture
Representation in media especially in television and film remains a topic of discussion. Constantly bombarded with drugs, violence, gangs and negativity our mindset around blackness is stagnant. Atlanta helps change this narrative, by showing blackness on a wider spectrum. As a culture Black people face historical extension with the masses finding ways to erase the contributions of the Black race. However, Donald’s influence on pop culture allowed his show to create a moment in modern history we can’t forget. Take a look as viewers express their opinions about the show.