The New Musical Hamilton Challenges us to Rise Up and Empower the People

You might think a new musical about the Founding Fathers would be a conservative, patriotic tribute telling us the same white-washed story we often hear, but you would be in for quite a surprise. The new musical Hamilton at the Public Theater in NY is progressive and timely, using the style and message of hip hop to revisit the creation of this nation. Creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda (who also created and starred in In the Heights several years ago) reminds us that hip hop originated when those who were traditionally marginalized raised their voices. We see this concept run throughout the show, as it asks: Who tells your story? Whose story is told? Who has a voice? Who is silenced? The show explicitly highlights the hypocrisy and contradiction at the heart of our country’s democracy, a democracy whose freedom depended on slavery. We see Alexander Hamilton as a struggling immigrant, and we see a multiracial cast playing Hamilton, Washington, Madison, Jefferson, Burr, and more. We see them struggle and debate, through brilliant rap battles, about slavery, states’ rights, federalism, and taxes. This show is a call to reclaim what democracy really means, a society where the people are empowered, where freedom and justice are not just ideals written down on old parchment but embodied in the lived experiences of the people. We need to rise up once again, demand justice, and shout, “I am not throwing away my shot.”

New Year’s Updates

Happy New Year! I’ve taken some time to create a new Recommended Resources page here. I’ve also been adding to the scroll of blogs and social justice organizations. I’ve also been making some changes to the other pages as I shift the focus of my book project, which is now titled “Dismantling Divide and Conquer: A Racial Justice Handbook for the 21st Century.” While I still maintain a focus on the divide and conquer mentality, my approach is less of a purely scholarly analysis of three stereotypes and more of a handbook or manual that can serve as a basic introduction to how the divide and conquer mentality impedes racial justice. I will post more plans in the coming months and ask for your feedback.

Welcome!

Hello! Welcome to my first blog. I’ve been thinking about starting this for a while, and after attending Netroots Nation with a Democracy for America scholarship that many of you helped me get (thanks!) and meeting many progressive bloggers and activists, here I am! My goals may be lofty, but you have to start somewhere. I want to raise awareness about stereotypes that divide and conquer us and prevent us from working together. If we can dismantle those, then we can build coalitions around common goals and interests, which will allow us to challenge the status quo and end systemic racism and economic inequality. I’ll be posting original commentary weekly as well sharing articles that I think contribute to this discussion. I’ll try to keep my blogs fairly short (and rein myself in!), so if you want additional context, plus look at the full website, which has pages about the divide and conquer ideas I’m exploring: https://dividednolonger.com/

The recent events in Ferguson, Missouri have just reinforced to me why we need to understand systemic racism and inequality with a new perspective now more than ever. Systemic racism means that racism is embedded in the system, in our institutions, and in our culture. The all too pervasive stereotype that black men are “thugs” is one of the most visible examples of systemic racism, and we see its deadly effects every day. Black men are portrayed as criminals and treated as such at the same time as the police are militarized across the country. Legal scholar Michelle Alexander has done an exceptional job of explaining this in her book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

No justice, no peace. Know justice, know peace.