donald glover on the swarm red carpet
Source: Getty Images

Donald Glover attends the "Swarm" Red Carpet Premiere and Screening in Los Angeles at Lighthouse Artspace LA on March 14, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

Donald Glover's Long, Complicated History of Controversies Involving Black Women

'Swarm' creator Donald Glover is under fire in the court of public opinion when it comes to his long history of controversy with black women.


Jan. 11 2024, Published 10:09 p.m. ET

For the longest time, there have been debates about how Black women are treated in the entertainment industry.

Hollywood has been accused of deliberately paying Black women low wages, perpetuating colorism, and blatant disrespect.

Sadly, many Black men in powerful positions are guilty of these offenses, too. Over the last few years, pop culture has honed in on its recent offender — Donald Glover, better known as Childish Gambino.

Donald, whose music moniker is Childish Gambino, has become the epitome of modern-day Black royalty in Hollywood.

While his creativity and versatility are commendable, his questionable portrayals of Black women in his artistic expressions have raised more questions than answers.

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Donald Glover's long history of controversy with Black women, explained.

The ongoing debate about Donald's dynamic with Black women has been riddled with controversy.

One of Donald's most recent creative pursuits is Swarm, which sparked debate on social media — not just for the poignant storyline, but because of the discussion it ignited about the treatment of Black women in the entertainment industry.

donald glover
Source: ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

US actor/singer Donald Glover attends GQ's Global Creativity Awards wearing a leather green coat.

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In an interview with Vulture discussing the project, Dominique Fishback, — who plays the leading lady in Swarm — revealed that she got very little direction for her role in the show.

Instead, he said: "You don’t have to find the humanity in your character. That’s the audience’s job. Think of it more like an animal and less like a person.”

Unsurprisingly, the comment rubbed people the wrong way, and the internet went to work dissecting his words and what he could have possibly meant.

The controversy surrounding the project was not an isolated incident — but rather a reflection of a broader issue.

But wait, there's more.

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Donald Glover was previously accused of underpaying black women, too.

On his 2016 album, Awaken, My Love!, Donald featured a model named Giannina Otero on the electric cover. However, Giannina came out later and claimed that Donald had underpaid her for the project.

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“We received low pay but were promised residuals but never received anything,” Giannina said. “The only person who received residuals was a white woman who created the headpiece even though she was not on set to work on this (but she also deserves it.)”

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Giannina also went on to say that she had attempted to contact Donald via her legal team but to no avail.

“After years of lies and silence, then finding out the statute of limitation complications… it’s been an exhausting, emotional, and overall sad thing to deal with,” Giannina wrote in a since-deleted post on social media (via HotNewHipHop.)

“So it took so much from me especially the fact that we all worked on it with so much love and being proud to represent Black artists. All of my lawyers’ communications have been ignored by the artist and his team," she added.

Donald has not responded to the allegations.

Many fans may find it hard to reconcile the fact that Donald, who released the viral "This Is America" anthem in 2018, would have even the most remote affinity for misogynoir.

The only problem with that ideology, though, is that even the most blatant expressions of pro-Blackness often exclude the Black woman.

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