Lin-Manuel Miranda has recently been held as the new king of musical theatre with Hamilton UK winning the record number of Olivier Awards this year. Not only is Hamilton an amazing show with the catchiest lyrics ever (of which I know all of them), it also combines two very interesting ideas the birth of America and Rap. In doing this Miranda has risen the issue: “In a country founded by immigrants, "immigrant" has somehow become a bad word.
The director of the video talked to Buzzfeed News about its back story. Whitmore said “Within the political climate and all the xenophobia that’s persisting within the conversation, it felt like a really unique opportunity to give a voice to the immigrant narrative, and to shine a spotlight on, as the song says, ‘America’s ghost writers’ — a lot of people that make this country great and that we don’t often get to see in mainstream media,”. In an era where the president of the United States wants to build a wall separating the north America from the rapists and murderers of Mexico and Latin America this message could not be any more appropriate. If you are familiar with Hamilton you will know that Alexander Hamilton who fought against the British for independence, defended the ne US constitution and was the first secretary of treasury, was in fact an immigrant “dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean”. Throughout out the musical Hamilton climbs the ranks of the American government and creates a financial system which would help the United States establish credit with other nations. His role in creating the America we know today was integral as James Maddison says, “he doesn't get enough credit for all the credit he gave us”.
So, the question still stands, why in a country founded by immigrants is “immigrant” a bad word. The song illustrates the life of an immigrant in the US not as the life promoted but as a life of hard work, disrespect and endangerment. Everyday newspapers are plastered with the faces of Syrian children in agonising pain after crossing the ocean to be greeted by the cold faces of people who see them as alien, the ‘other’. It makes me who has the heart to see these graphic images and still turn the way, it seems so unfair.
I got 1 job, 2 job, 3 when I need them I got 5 roommates in this one studio, but I never really see them And we all came America trying to get a lap dance from Lady Freedom But now Lady Liberty is acting like Hilary Banks with a pre-nup…
Many Americans see the statue of Liberty as a symbol of freedom and democracy. It’s the first thing new arrivals see as the travel to the so-called land of the free however, rapper K’aan subverts this sexualised image of freedom to something exclusive and discriminatory.
The next rapper Snow raps in both Spanish and English, I think this is significant because I feel that now more than ever the focus is on Hispanic immigrants, they are seen as dirty, dangerous and job stealing. However, Snow points out immigrants only seem to “steal” jobs because they are willing to work ten times as hard for a fraction of the pay. The use of the popular nursery rhyme if peter piper is rather haunting, it makes the whole thing seem so innocent yet much like the children’s story inherent immorality is hidden.
I been scoping ya dudes, ya’ll ain't been working like I do
I'll outwork you, it hurts you You claim I’m stealing jobs though Peter Piper claimed he picked them, he just underpaid Pablo
It is easy to see Britain as exempt from the immigration problem however, this is no the case, Riz MC the only British rapper on the track rather comically compares the British Empire to Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. This idea of Britain striking back against immigrants is especially prevalent as talks of Brexit and the impending immigration question flood the news. Immigration and refugees were the leave campaigns main selling point. Nevertheless, it has become clear the Theresa May might not be able to deliver on false promises made by Brexiteers.
Immigration has always been a problem from the beginning of the modern world. Even though we don’t seephysical attacks that were so normal in the 20th century, it is naïve to pretend that this doesn’t affect everyone. In my opinion, which I think is highlighted in the song, the problem lies in societies’ view of immigrants because ultimately, they do so much especially in countries like America. In my opinion, people like Donald trump are scared and sceptical about the idea of the ‘other’ their nation some use the excuse of national security as a front for their timid isolation tactic or maybe, as Thomas Jefferson says, it’s because “this immigrant it is keeping us all on our toes”. I commend Miranda for using his rare stance as the son of a Puerto Rican immigrant to air the issues that so many immigrants face yet go unnoticed by the public.
“It’s Americas ghost writers, a credit is only borrowed” is such an amazing lyric, it encompasses the message at hand. We read about figures like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, but there are so many stories that go untold as Eliza Hamilton sings in the finale number “Every other founding father's story gets told”. This message is still relevant today in a world of ‘fake news’ and tabloids, and it makes me wonder whose stories will be rewritten out of our history?