It’s pretty much common knowledge how much I love Hamilton. Just scroll through my Twitter timeline and I’ve probably mastered the art of replying to friends in form of Hamilton gifs.
Even though I solely enjoyed the musical through its soundtrack, my love is rooted from the simple fact I am convinced that Alexander Hamilton is the ultimate immigrant’s story told by this generation’s ultimate son of an immigrant. Powered by the most hip-hop I’ve ever experienced in a musical, Hamilton is the PoC love letter to the White Man that we needed.
I can go on and on about the music and dissect all of my favorite songs, but I only really want to talk about one. “My Shot” has many iconic lines, but one part runs through my mind whenever I wonder what the hell I’m doing with my life.
Every action’s an act of creation
I’m laughing’ in the face of casualties and sorrow
For the first time, I’m thinkin’ past tomorrow
See, if your American history is muggy like mine, I have completely forgotten that Alexander Hamilton is actually our immigrant Founding Father. Born in the West Indies and a child out of wedlock, Hamilton sailed to colonial New York with the same vision that our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents saw: to create their own lasting legacy and to give their descendants a life better than their own.
“You have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story.”
As a Filipina immigrant who is going against the grain being a young creative, every creation I’ve done has been for the sake of declaring my voice that is constantly being drowned out. While I may not be the loudest or the most extroverted, I've found my voice through photography and through writing. As I’ve gotten older, every photograph and every piece of writing have both become a call to action of sorts that I am here, I am ready to tell my story, listen to me roar.
If you don’t, watch me roar louder.
I may not be showing my activism through being out on the picket lines, or through profound posts on the Internet. I've come to realize that through my creations and my choices in what to delve into creatively, I am protesting against what the world--particularly the media--have decided I can only be. Hamilton has encouraged me to feel is that I can be anything. That someone like me can be in a hit-Broadway play, or even beyond that. Hamilton shows me that I can be part of the retelling of someone's story.
People of color in the media have become continually polarized and prevented to tell their story. In the sea of #OscarsSoWhite and #WhiteWashedOut, Hamilton is a refreshing and not-so-gentle reminder that there is loads of space for the rest of us in mainstream media, and we’re not going to be silent anymore. Representation is not just in television, but in all forms of art and media, Broadway included. I wholeheartedly agreed that Hamilton is a world-wide phenomenon, a piece of art that is definitely the first of its kind.
However, I don’t think we're just experiencing history in the making with the creation of Hamilton. I believe that we’re watching a creation of a new conversation for people of color to show what we have been capable of for so long. We’re all people waiting to tell our story, and if you keep preventing us from doing so, we will only come back stronger and louder.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s interpretation of Alexander Hamilton is something that I’ve come to resonate with myself: someone who feels like they are quickly running out of time. Someone that wants to utilize their gifts not just for glory, but to prove something. A sense of self-worth that can only be achieved once you get where you want to be. So you keep going, and you keep going as fast as you can.
There is still so much to be done in my life in order for me to feel like I'm on the right track. To become a good daughter, sister, friend, loved one. Hell, even just a functioning human being in a society and a system that may not be on my side. That feeling, I realize, will never go away. Because as a child of immigrant parents, we are part of the immigrant narrative. A narrative that is filled with joy, fear, sacrifices and a huge sense of urgency to succeed. Alexander Hamilton knew it, and now I know it too.
I can say so much about Alexander Hamilton. I can say so much about Lin Manuel Miranda, who has given the world this amazing gift.
But I’m running out of time.