Diary of a Mad Americanized Puerto Rican Woman Vol. 2: Hamilton
I’m not cancelling Hamilton.
Lin-Manuel Miranda is a Puerto Rican composer and playwright who took piece of colonial history and made it his story.
He filled Black and brown voices in a space that would have otherwise been white. Hamilton takes a magnified platform and showcases a different and extremely neccesary point of view.
As a Puerto Rican woman who studied musical theater I often felt alienated with the mainstream musical casts and even the musical conpositions. Leslie Odom Jr. who magnificentally plays Aaron Burr says, "I'd never in my life seen 4 men of color sitting on stage singing about friendship and brotherhood....and to me the image of that was the revolution." Finally, Black and brown children can watch a Broadway musical and say look it's me.
Broadway like every other industry in America is centered on whiteness. I won’t cancel Lin-Manuel or Hamilton because it deeply resonates with me. While, yes, it does ignore the historic sadistic oppression inflicted by America’s “founding fathers,” it simultaneously uplifts the community these men were oppressing in real time.
Hamilton’s character is not glorified in my opinion. It’s made fun of and poked at, almost every character in the play is. It peels back the layers within each character. Hamilton is shown as both - a revolutionary and adulterer. I’m learning more and more there can be and often are multiple truths. And I think that applies to Hamilton. I think these men are rolling over in their grave knowing that people of color are playing them. Colonizer roles being depicted by the ancestors of those they colonized. That’s pretty fucking genius!
Taking power back by telling "the story of America then told by America now, people of color are the future of this country, they are the present they are the future,” says Lin-Manuel. At the end of the day he mentions it was a hip hop musical. It would’ve been a disservice to cast white people.
On one hand, I think the musical may have even secured it’s spot on B-way due to being a palatable American topic of our “founding fathers” shows the racism in America. Whereas other hip hoperas like Holler if Ya Hear Me closed only after one month supposedly due to financial burdens of being on Broadway. The popularity of Hamilton is obviously due to the incredibly talented cast along with Lin-Manuel’s writing, composition and acting. With that said one could assert that the topics of musicals play a large part in their ultimate success.
“You took an afrocentric-themed play and placed it on a eurocentric stage. The problems you’ll face are larger than you think.” Harry Belafonte to Saul Williams, star of Holler If Ya Hear Me.
Also, let’s pay attention to context clues and subliminal messaging. Almost every character dies in Hamilton at the hands of gun violence, a very real problem in America today. "History has its eyes on you." The sentiment of what can I do runs throughout the show, a demonstration of active citizen participation.
As Ava DuVernay says, “Slavery is not central, for sure. But he didn’t deny or ignore it either. He made his choices about it. I greatly enjoyed the work and was wildly curious after watching. I wouldn’t have studied any of those “founders” like I did if it wasn’t for #Hamilton and Lin-Manuel.”
I’m glad it’s being scrutinized from a racial lens as everything should be at this point in America. It shows the progress we’ve made in being honest with ourselves from just a few years ago when the show hit the stage. When we know that it’s a lens that will be looked at and analyzed we will be forced to do better. We shine a light on the problematic messages our media and society sends to us and our children.
As Lin-Manuel Miranda explains he made a musical (not a historical document) out of a 6-year story and fit it into 2.5 hours. He showcases the founders pride, greed and hunger for power.
Also, he literally says criticisms are valid and that he didn’t understand the complexities and tonalities of these people he couldn’t get. That’s humility. And just because his show wasn’t "perfect" in terms of lifting the veil on these vile founding fathers it was brilliant in it’s talent and purpose. Hamilton was a supremely entertaining musical that magnified and represented Black and brown voices on the worlds biggest and most renowned stage, Broadway. Also, ain’t none of these corrupt slave owners or their ancestors are getting paid from this musical.
In Hamilton In Depth with Kelley Carter, Miranda mentions wanting to get on the board in musical theater and provide respresentation. Us, meaning Black and brown people, “telling the story about these flawed people who created a flawed country whose ideals were worth chasing but have fallen short over the course of 200 or so years.”
He identifies with Hamilton because he came from the Caribbean and eventually became an "American success." Much like Lin-Manuel’s father did at age 18. Hamilton was the "proto" immigrant of America’s "founding fathers." Providing a vehicle for Miranda to tap into and share America’s history from an unseen lense.
I’m all about canceling Alexander Hamilton and our “founding fathers.” But when we cancel Hamilton, the musical and Lin-Manuel what are we actually canceling? Black and brown people once the fuck again. Not to mention incredibly fucking talented artists and creators.
So sorry but nah I’m not going to cancel Hamilton. Even though my Puerto Rican brother made some artistic choices in negating key factors (that I don’t neccesarily agree with). He owns them and in every other area the musical does not fail to do what it set out to do.