I love Hamilton, but something about the way white fans engage with the musical really bothers me: a lot of them are posting in the tag about the actual, historical revolutionaries and founding fathers in a way that makes them seem like funny, sweet, good people. They weren’t. I don’t just mean “Jefferson was a piece of shit”: none of them were good. Every one of their asses saw black people as inferior, even if not all of them supported slavery. All of them participated in genocidal policy against indigenous peoples. If you’re watching/listening to Hamilton and then going out and romanticizing the real founding fathers/American revolutionaries, you’re missing the entire point.
Hamilton is not really about the founding fathers. It’s not really about the American Revolution. The revolution, and Hamilton’s life are the narrative subject, but its purpose is not to romanticize real American history: rather, it is to reclaim the narrative of America for people of colour.
Don’t romanticize the founding fathers and the revolution. They’re already romanticized. It’s been done. Your history books have already propagated those lies. The revolution is romanticized as an American narrative because it was a revolution lead by and for white men. Their story is the narrative of the nation and it is a narrative from which people of colour are utterly obliterated.
Do you understand what it’s like to live in a nation where you are made marginal and inconsequential in the historical narrative that you are taught from your first day of school? In the Americas, to be a person of colour is to be made utterly inconsequential to the nation’s history. If you are black, your history begins with slavery, and your agency is denied; they don’t teach about slave rebellions or black revolutionaries. You learn about yourself as entirely shaped by outside forces: white people owned you, then some white people decided to free you and wasn’t that nice of them? and then you’re gone until the civil rights movement. That is the narrative they teach; in which you had no consequence, no value, no impact until less than a century ago. If you are indigenous, you are represented as disappeared, dead, already gone: you do not get to exist, you are already swallowed by history. If you are any other race, you are likely not present at all. To live in a land whose history is not your own, to live in a story in which you are not a character, is a soul-destroying experience.
In Hamilton, Eliza talks, in turn, of “taking herself out of the narrative” and “putting herself back in the narrative.” That’s what Hamilton is about: it’s about putting ourselves in the narrative. It puts people of colour in the centre of the damn narrative of the nation that subjugates them; it takes a story that by all accounts has been constructed to valourize the deeds of white men, and redefines it all.
Why was the American Revolution a revolution? Why were slave revolts revolts? Why do we consider the founding fathers revolutionaries and not the Black Panthers or the Brown Berets or any number of other anti-racist revolutionary organizations? Whose rebellion is valued? Who is allowed to be heroic through defiance? By making the founding fathers people of colour, Hamilton puts people of colour into the American narrative, while simultaneously applying that narrative to the present. Right now, across the United States, across the damn world, people are chanting “black lives matter.” Black people are shutting down malls and highways, demanding justice for the lives stolen by police, by white supremacy. And all across the world, indigenous people are saying “Idle No More,” blockading pipelines, demanding their sovereignty. And “No One is Illegal” is chanting loud enough to shake down the walls at the border; people are demanding the end of refugee detention centres, demanding an end to the violence perpetuated by anti-immigration policies. People of colour are rising up.
…And white people are angry about it. White people are saying “if blacks don’t want to get shot by the police they shouldn’t sag their pants”; saying “get over it” about anti-indigenous policies of assimilation and cultural genocide and land theft; Jennicet Gutiérrez was heckled by white gay men for demanding that president Obama end the detention of undocumented trans women of colour. White people see people of colour rising up and they tell us to sit down. Shut up. Stop making things difficult. The American Revolution was a bunch of white men who didn’t want to be taxed, so white history sees their revolutionary efforts as just; they killed for their emancipation from England; they were militant. That, to white people is acceptable. But those same white people talk shit about Malcolm X for being too violent–a man who never started an uprising against the government leading to bloodshed. Violence is only acceptable in the hands of white people; revolution is only okay when the people leading the charge are white.
Hamilton makes those people brown and black; Hamilton depicts the revolution of which America is proud as one led by people of colour against a white ruling body; there’s a reason King George is the only character who is depicted by a white man. The function of the visual in Hamilton is to challenge a present in which people of colour standing up against oppression are seen as violent and dangerous by the same people who proudly declare allegiance to the flag. It forces white people to see themselves not as the American Revolutionaries, but as the British oppressors. History is happening, and they’re on its bad side.
So don’t listen to or watch Hamilton and then come out of that to romanticize the founding fathers. Don’t let that be what you take away from this show. They’re the vehicle for the narrative, and a tool for conveying the ideologies of the show, but they are not the point. Don’t romanticize the past; fight for the future.
poster anti-olympique et anti-gentrification, Sydney, fin des années 1990.
Anti-Olympics/anti-gentrification poster from Sydney in the late 90′s. The
Sydney 2000 Olympics ushered in an intensification of rent-hikes,
social cleansing of inner-city suburbs, and the further militarisation
of the NSW police force.
no, no, no. Racial prejudice can be directed at white people (like making fun of their obsessive need to nay nay and dab) but racism is intertwined with power relations and privilege. You can’t be racist to white people because they sit at the top of the systematic racial hierarchy. Many white people call black power such as black lives matter racist against white people, however, rebellion, and even anger, is a legitimate response to oppression - if a group of oppressed people fear or slander white people for the oppression carried out in their ‘whiteness’ it’s not racist, it’s fighting for justice in the face of systematic abuse which would otherwise go unnoticed. Bottom line: Racism requires privilege and power, both of which are held by the white population after hundreds upon hundreds of years of genocide and abuse against POC. White people are not oppressed.
Ugh white ppl who say “cultures were meant to be shared, appropriation isnt real”….
My god its not that hard to google the difference between appreaciation vs appropriation. Wow. Cultures were not actually inherently meant to be shared with outsiders, but created for their own people.
They can still be shared, but when you (a white person in a racially dominant position of historical power) whine about “sjws” and get all pissy at the mention of cultural appropriation….what ur actually wanting to do is take from a historically marginalized group without permission, under the guise of “sharing”. Thus, you perpetuate what white people have done for hundreds of years–erase someone’s culture in the public conciousness, cheapen it, distort its meaning, not even knowing the real original meaning in the first place.
If anything, these vulnerable groups are STILL facing extreme institutionalized racism (created by white people and their power structures) and they see their culture being further diluted…Its so disrespectful. Its salt on an open wound.
Real APPRECIATION is the showing of respect. Not cherry picking stuff that “looks cool” while completely misundersranding what the item/practice even means, while also demonizing the people of color who use the item or engage in said practice.
No one is saying you cant EVER use or do something that originated from oitside your group. What PoC would like is to just….have some respect. And dont take sacred, spiritual culturally significant stuff that was designed solely for them. White ppl love to take poc’s sacred items and turn them into commercialized commodities.
Dread locks started off as a spiritual thing, then evolved to unite black people as a rebellion against white oppression (black people were pressured and even forced to straighten their hair. Black hair is a politicized thing for them, maybe dont have dreads if ur white because the whole point of them is lost on u)
One of the best examples of appropriation is how Native Americans were forced to assimilate into white culture, and lost much of theirs. Then, they see some white chick at a concert giving a peace sign with duck lips, as she is wearing one of their sacred headdreases, and the whole significance is cheapened.
Halloween costumes are one of the best examples too. You cant just use a living, marginalized people as a costume….
It’s all salt in the open would when marginalized, discriminated against people suddenly see the oppressors using their shit like TOYS.
Would u wear a yamaca even though ur not Jewish? Or a turban if ur not sikh? No u wouldnt.
That is not appreciation nor the sharing of culture. That is….being tone deaf….that is appropriation.
However, if a Native American was selling hand made mocassins or jewelry to people outside his/her native group, that is an in invitation, and yes white people can wear them. That is respect, and that is appreciation, that is sharing.
You can watch anime despite not being Japanese. You can have art in ur house made from outside of white communities. You can eat food from different cultures. This is true sharing, becsuse poc have invited u guys to do that stuff. That’s all ok and none of us “sjws” are saying you cant.
What we are really saying is….just know what it is you want poc to “share” with you…..and, dont demand it…. because you’re not entitled to it and u sound like a selfish child….understand some things are ok to be used….but other things are OFF LIMITS.
Also, it absolutely does not work the other way around, PoC and historically oppressed people cannot appropriate white dominant culture–appropriation involves power dynamics. Forced assimilation for survival is NOTthe same as appropriation.
There is no easy generalized answer for what is or isnt appropriation. It is a case by case thing.
Also, google is ur best friend. If ur ever unsure, dont make whiney posts blaming the victims of colonialism….because someone called u out on ur racist halloween costume or whatever. Chances are, someone already wrote up an in depth mini-essay on whether or not the thing ur doing is appropriation vs appreciation.
That’s the difference. Treat marginalized people with respect.
Learn some self awareness. We do not live in a vaccuum. We will ALWAYS be tied to history and our own cultures/race, EVEN IF we dont want that to be the case. We will NEVER just be individuals.