Hamilton’s Shoutout: On a Trope that Silences

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Miranda Brookshier


Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Grammy-winning musical, Hamilton, is praised for its integration of a diverse cast in the production of “a story about American then, told by America now.” This show is applauded for its use of contemporary rap and hip-hop music and its portrayal of Founding Fathers by men of color, thus allowing all viewers to revel in a shared, triumphant past. Despite Hamilton’s renown, critics have challenged the hypocrisy in Miranda’s casting, which allows people of color to portray the very white men who perpetuated a cycle of oppression through chattel slavery. While critics question the racialization of characters and the music, these historical analyses have failed to consider the lyrics’ influence in recapitulating a vision of the Revolutionary era as “whites only,” regardless of who is cast. In this essay, I argue that Hamilton’s success hinders on an incomplete view of the Founding Fathers, opting to memorialize their noble legacies and elide a troubling history with slavery. Through a close analysis of the show’s lyrics and a consideration into the intersections of race and gender, readers will see how this production ultimately centers white men and minimizes the experiences of enslavement for black women.

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