"Winter in America" is a stop-motion animation video that recreates the events leading up to the robbing and murder of Hank Willis Thomas’s cousin, Songha, in February 2000 outside a club in Philadelphia. Basing the narrative on eye-witness accounts, the artists use G.I. Joe action figures, similar to those they played with during childhood, to tell the story. The video examines a culture in which young boys are encouraged to act out such violent scenarios before they can even read. More generally, it is critical of the United States’ unquenchable thirst for material goods.

At the beginning of the video, a billboard with the image of a Nike swoosh scarred into a man’s head reproduces a photograph by Thomas to comment on the representation and consumption of the Black American body. Just before Songha is shot, one of the murderers ironically repeats the Nike slogan, “just do it.” As the camera pans out we hear soul artist Gil Scott-Heron’s 1974 song "Winter in America."


  • Title: Winter in America
  • Creator: Hank Willis Thomas and Kambui Olujimi
  • Creator Birth Place: Plainfield, New Jersey
  • Date Created: 2005
  • Location: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
  • Physical Dimensions: 4:05 minutes
  • Type: Video
  • Publisher: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
  • Rights: © Hank Willis Thomas and Kambui Olujimi
  • Medium: Video (color, sound), edition 6/6
  • Art Form: Video
  • Credit Line: Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Museum purchase with additional funds provided by William and Ruth True. Courtesy of the artists and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

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