Hamilton and Advocacy
Ok, so to start with, I am still learning about racial issues and understanding the nuances of them. I stand for equality of all peoples. At the same time, expressing that can be tricky. If anyone reads this and finds anything in it offensive, please let me know so I can adjust it. It is our JOB to change the world into a higher place, and sometimes we need guidance. I recognize that, and honor the people who stand up and help me and teach me to understand and express the critical issues around race.
I LOVE the musical Hamilton. I've seen it tons of times (on Disney...someday live I hope) and the take-aways for me are intense. This pic is of Jonathon Groff who played King George. Because the story of Hamilton focuses on the man, Hamilton, in a time where the rules were set up by the ruling class (the King first)...and then followed by the ones benefitting from those rules. Notice that - rules are ENFORCED by the people who are benefitting from them. That's why if you want to change a rule and get people to buy into it, they need to benefit from it. Slaves didn't benefit from slavery, so they were given no choices on the matter. Owners of slaves certainly benefitted, so they set up laws to support that ownership.
So why does Hamilton matter? Because it breaks racial boundaries, and I want you to see that, and be inspired to do the same.
If you look at cast diversity on Broadway before Hamilton, there was very little. People of color (POC) were in shows ABOUT people of color. What Hamilton did was to cast POC in historically white roles. Miranda (originator on all fronts of Hamilton) knew that skin color did not need to be consistent in portraying someone, and he cast to the best fitting actor, rather than to the racial look-alike. He set a precedent, and I'm happy to report that a LOT more shows are following that as a result.
How is this advocacy? Because it's another example of how people consciously choose (or not choose) how race should be regarded. When you are casting a show and choosing a special racial group for a role because their skin color is matching the actual person portrayed, you are saying that someone is who they are because of their race. That's not true. People are who they are because of their experiences. There's a fine line to honoring history and being racist in portraying that history. So yes, a black man can portray George Washington...so why can't a white man portray a slave? Because George Washington is represented as a man who led a country. Something anyone can do. A slave was a slave because they were black, and that is not something a white person can not honor.
As we move forward in my country, the USA, and the planet, we are being offered an opportunity to advocate for equality, respect and honor of all peoples. Taking that opportunity is important because it's time we recognize equality as a priority and insist on it as a universal philosophy. Every second of every minute of every hour of every day. Always. And until we do that, people, we are less than.