Quote of the Week: "I Gotta Holler Just to be Heard"
Okay, okay, I know that Hamilton isn’t actually Disney, but, Hamilton the Musical did just premiere on Disney+ this weekend, so it’s totally fair game as far as I’m concerned! (I also just finished watching it for about the 10th time this weekend, so it’s all I’ve got going on in my head right now.)
Hamilton is rife with quotable lines and moving moments, and it’s not just because Lin-Manuel is a masterful writer who crafts words with such elegance. It’s because a lot of what he’s trying to convey, and a lot of what’s showcased in our history, was true in the past and still rings true today. One of the most salient points of the entire story is that Alexander Hamilton was an immigrant. One of our founding fathers was an immigrant. And yet that part of our history fails to be taught in school, that part gets but a glance if at all. And it’s probably because he was an immigrant that this is the case. Because our society inherently and unequivocally prefers the Euro-American-centered story, people like Alexander Hamilton, don’t get the recognition they deserve, at least not until now. I’m not exactly defending Hamilton; I don’t necessarily think he’s a “good person” and I don’t think that’s what the musical is trying to convey either. I think the whole point of the story is that he helped build our country and turn it into the subjective success that it is today, morals be damned. (Of course, I don't mean that; morals are extremely important and should not be ignored. But his contribution to our current society is pretty undeniable. And let’s face it, all of our founding fathers were problematic in one way or another).
So why did I pick this quote out of the many many important, inspiring, and moving lines in the show? Because this is where we are as a country right now. This is what the Black Lives Movement and the push for anti-racism is really all about. We, the marginalized communities in this country, have to holler just to be heard. It’s not enough to put our heads down and “work hard” in the hopes that those who have power over us will notice us and give us more. No. That’s not how society, hierarchy, and oppression work. Is it fair that this is what’s necessary to make waves in our country? I don’t think so. But, as many people these days have been pointing out, it’s what our country was built off of. Our country started because of protests, our colored communities and other marginalized people gained rights because of protests. The only way to enact the change that is necessary for our country to grow and becoming a more welcoming place to all people, a true “melting pot”, is for us to holler in order for us to be heard.
Growing up within an Asian culture, I was always taught to keep quiet and work hard. I was taught that this is what will pay off in the future. I was taught that if I make a fuss, if I cause discomfort, if I step outside of my pre-ordained line, I’m a troublemaker and I am shameful. So yes, I am soft-spoken; I do keep most thoughts to myself; and I don’t always step out when I think I should. This way of life has been inculcated in me since I was a child, so it’s a tough shell to break out of. Because I know that these lessons are no longer true. It’s just simply not enough. To pull another truism from Hamilton, “you get nothing if you wait for it.” Because it’s those “troublemakers” who wrangled the rights that I get to enjoy today. I get to be a citizen, I get to own property, I get to vote. And I didn’t do a single thing to earn that. I was just lucky enough to be born after that work was done. But there’s still more to do, because this country is not equal. And now it’s my turn to step up as well. It’s my turn to enable kids like me and kids not like me to enjoy their rights to the fullest extent.
So let’s band together. Let’s holler at the top of our lungs, so that we can no longer be ignored.