By BHT Staffer
The Atlantic, Smithsonian Magazine and the New Yorker call Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2016 musical Hamilton a “historical re-imagining” of the foundation of the united snakes of amerikkka.
The musical came to Disney+ during a liberal uproar to re-examine the cultural sensitivity of every industry in amerikkka after its colonial violence was laid bare during the lynchings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among countless others.
Apprently, Colonialism has been dealing with a “diversity problem”.
Setting the stage
Long ago, in 2015, #OscarsSoWhite became a Twitter statement before Hamilton even hit the stage, meanwhile police brutality brought the colonial question out into the open. Miranda’s answer to that question was to put on a minstrel show.
Miranda completely skirted the colonial question by casting the founding fathers as colonized Black and Indigenous actors. His reason being that the “cast looks like how amerikkka looks now, and that’s certainly intentional.” According to Miranda “telling the story of old, dead white men” using black faces “makes the story more immediate and…accessible to a contemporary audience.”
That the people on stage would have been enslaved by those same old, dead white men is a historical fact Miranda seems to have no shame in ignoring.
The same old, dead white men who slaughtered countless nations of Indigenous people, enslaving millions of Africans to work a stolen land until they died. Casting token actors to shuck and jive to that story isn’t anything but putting white power in black face.
While Hamilton took off on Broadway, the pigs were still openly committing genocide against African and colonized people. The musical’s casting and Miranda’s embarrassing attempts at Hip Hop are just an excuse to re-package the same ugly story for the same audience willing to laugh an applaud. To borrow a phrase, Hamilton was Miranda’s way to make america great again.
“Hamilton is a Broadway show… not a documentary.”
Smithsonian Magazine discusses the reputation of the musical for its non-white cast. They state that it allows amerikkkans to feel ownership of and a sense of belonging to the settler state and its history.
Historian Renee Romano of Oberlin College asks, “what does it mean to be raising a generation of kids from rural Ohio to think that George Washington could have been Black?”
Romano’s question is one that many history teachers across the country are asking, as they’ve been “inspired” by the musical. Let’s make one thing clear. We saw exactly what it would have been like if George Washington were a Black man. His name was Barack Hussein Obama, and that nigga was responsible for the massacre at Standing Rock, for the bombing of Somalia, for the re-emergence of chattel slavery in Libya, for mass deportations.
The colonial question didn’t change just because Miranda dressed up white power in black face.
The “New World” was the economic wet dream of wealthy English settlers who were willing to steal lush territory and cheap labor. With Colonialism’s immense hunger for new resources, these settlers packed up their belongings and booked a trip across the Atlantic.
The united snakkkes was forged in blood on Indigenous land, by African bodies, all of it stolen by the colonizer. Today, american media celebrates that legacy of rape and plunder, and calls it “diversity”. They look at an uppity, biracial sellout like Alexander Hamilton and see a hero.
White audiences applaud Hamilton for the lie. For teaching the slave to act like the slave master.
Let’s talk about fan reception.
In 2016, the musical was a magnet to white feminists on Tumblr. These groups of children proliferated many a slavery fanfiction. Backlash from Black fans, including minors, caused harassment from white adult fans.
Daveed Diggs, who played Thomas Jefferson in the musical, said in an interview that it was his job to make audiences fall in love with his character while Sally Hemings is on stage.
Audiences don’t think twice about historical violence within the racial capitalism of this country. The writing and direction were never meant to critique slave-owning men. They were meant to sweep all of that under the rug. To make america great again.
But let’s be real
This is amerikkka. Sadly, no one thinks too long when Black people are singing and dancing on a stage for their entertainment.
It’s exactly that brand of settler nostalgia that Disney was willing to pay for. How convenient that Hamilton started streaming on Disney+ at the peak of another summer of police lynchings and African-led rebellions. You, know, the kind of rebellion that the founding fathers would have rightfully called the Apocalypse?
It’s almost a shame that Lin Manuel Miranda is so uninterested in asking the colonial question, considering the Haitian Revolution was happening in the exact same time period as his musical. Then again, as Harvard history professor Annette Gordon-Reed said, Hamilton is “a Broadway show… not a documentary.”
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