Introducing Micah Williams, Author of “Anything But America: The Just and Unjust Recomposition of Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America’”
Micah Williams (he/him) is a 21-year-old English and Philosophy major, with a minor in African American Studies, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. During his first year of college, he had an assignment for an English class that would eventually turn into his piece “Anything But America: The Just and Unjust Recomposition of Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America.’”
Early into his college career, Williams’s Honors English class taught the young scholar how rhetoric and discourses move throughout different ideas. Williams notes that he had always had special interests in African American literature and related topics. Still, this lesson sparked his interest in transformation and recomposition related to the 2018 hit song and social commentary “This Is America” by Childish Gambino. Williams’s research paper began with mere outlines and some drafting, but it quickly grew into a full-blown twelve-page article by the end of his first draft. He utilized what he calls “mixed media methods,” which combines rhetorical analysis and imagery with previous findings—and Tay Zonday’s “Chocolate Rain”—to develop the research. Williams explains how, in his second draft for the paper, he had to highlight additions and other edits to track how his piece developed. He also notes that the original, pre-edited version for his class assignment involved mixed media such as photographs. In total, Williams says that he spent approximately two months on research, but his process was spaced out over more time rather than working consecutively.
Thanks to some encouragement from his professor to enter his work into a scholarship competition, Williams became the 2020 Peggy Jolly Award recipient for Excellence in Composition. He then decided to take the paper a step further and submit it to Young Scholars in Writing. After all, he had received praise from not only his professors in the field but from the competition judge, who especially recommended that his work reach a wider audience. Although Williams always knew that he would eventually want to become a published author, he was nervous that his article “wasn’t good enough.” However, he explains that the “push” from those around him encouraged his next steps towards publication.
Williams describes his experience with Young Scholars in Writing as “an awesome process.” From his first look into the undergraduate journal, he was impressed by past articles and the blog’s “legit” look. He notes that it was very easy to submit his work, especially expressing his gratitude towards Savannah Connor, his Faculty Advisory Editor (FAE), for the journal that worked closely with him throughout the editorial process. As a college student swarmed with school projects and a busy schedule, Micah expresses his appreciation of YSW’s flexibility and willingness to work around all of the craziness, and he could not be more pleased with the result.
For other aspiring undergraduates hoping to get their research published, Williams says to listen to encouragement from professors and “don’t let doubts stop you” from trying to publish. He’s glad that his research will now be able to reach a wider audience through Young Scholars in Writing. Though Williams hopes that the article’s meaning, especially the social justice elements, will speak for itself, he wants most of all for it to make people think twice about the implications of recomposition.
Written by: Marilyn Damord and Catie Putnam, Professional Writing majors at York College of Pennsylvania
Edited by: Lexi Stewart, Professional Writing major at York College of Pennsylvania