I wrote this blog a year ago, before COVID-19, before the Black Lives Matter movement gained ground, before the staggering abuse of power from one of the most self-interested presidents we have had went full on “tear gas peaceful protesters so they don’t get in the shot of my photo op” crazy.
In the original version I was careful to try and not alienate readers with use of politics. Re-reading it now, after what we’ve all been through this year, I’m resubmitting it with more balls. (I never understood why “having balls” was equated with being tough. We all know those things can’t even withstand a little nut tap without shriveling into a vomit inducing pity party. They should really say “grow a vagina” or “have a uterus” those things can, as Betty White once said, “take a pounding”. Anyway—on to the point.)
Independence in our country used to mean the freedom to pursue our dreams. But now we’re finally opening our eyes to the fact that not everyone has the same opportunities for this pursuit. Discrimination based on race, the disparity between economic status, and various other homophobic, misogynistic, and white-power-driven stereotypes were collars that kept a majority of this nation underfoot and away from an “American Dream” that was really just a concept reserved for the continuation of power for those already in possession of it.
This week, “Hamilton” will be available for the general public’s viewing and I hope you and everyone you love has a chance to watch it. Here’s what I had to say last year, adapted to call out the injustice I should have been brave enough to speak against before.
For the last few weeks I’ve been listening to the “Hamilton” soundtrack, catering to my daughters’ obsession of the rhythmic and addictive lyrics. I realize there’s some language in it that many would deem inappropriate. But being a lover of all language and knowing my kids’ ability to differentiate between words used for flavoring and appropriate alternatives for mixed company, I don’t shy away from it. Because more important than a few f-bombs is the fact that they love it, and by loving it are learning from it.
I love it too. I love that this amazingly talented writer and performer (hats off to you, Lin-Manuel Miranda), took an overlooked story and breathed life and passion into for a new generation with quick-witted writing that tied the past with present day issues including but not limited to the fact that this country wasn’t built by white landowners but on the backs of the slaves they held captive for generations.
Suddenly, not just my family but the entire country will be witness to this snapshot of history and remember the grit it took for our country to break free of tyranny. If ever there was a time to break free of the tyranny in our government and economic systems, this is it.
We should all strive to remember the past. When we don’t, we stop being on guard for the behaviors and situations that can lead to tragic ends in our own country.
For the last three years we’ve been idle as a nation, allowing forgiveness for “jokes” that weren’t funny, policies that bullied our allies, and the practice of placating dictators who held their own people beneath their boots.
Some of you rolled our eyes. Some of you applauded. Some of you tried to justify his inability to understand complex foreign policy and economic issues by saying he was an outsider. (That’s like saying the intern you hired was given a roomful of mentors and material to study up on for the job and then shrugging when he runs the skid steer into a pile of propane tanks while smoking and jerking off, sans a mask while he’s at it, and shouting “I don’t need you idiots! I know exactly what I’m doing!”)
We are living beneath a dissonant administration that has sought to divide us as a nation. and WE NEED TO REALIZE THAT WHEN ONE PERSON IN POWER DISENFRANCHISES ENTIRE GROUPS BASED ON THEIR GENDER, RACE, RELIGION, OR ECONOMIC STATUS IT SETS US BACK AS A NATION AND BURNS TO THE GROUND ANY FALSE CLAIM WE HOLD THAT ALL PEOPLE ARE CREATED EQUAL IN OUR ‘GREAT’ NATION.
On this day, I want you to consider what it means to you to have independence.
Look to the people standing six feet away at the grocery story, in the parking lot, grabbing food to go. Look at them, their skin, their difference, SEE RACE AND UNDERSTAND THAT IT HAS KEPT YOUR FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS FROM BEING TREATED FAIRLY AND OWN THAT YOU’VE NOT HAD TO SUFFER THE SAME FATE BECAUSE YOU WERE BORN WITH DIFFERENT SKIN COLOR.
There are cries from the opposing side that all lives matter, failing to grasp the concept that if all lives truly mattered you’d stop imprisoning, persecuting, discriminating against, and killing people of color and see that its an unbalanced scale. It’s like having two kids; one you’ve put in the best schools, fed nutritious meals, spent quality time with, and gave adequate medical care to, the other you’ve neglected, forced into hard labor for no pay, sent to an over-taxed inner city school, given no medical care, and barely fed. Can you truly claim that they both matter equally to you? Actions and results of where we are on the path towards the American Dream speak louder than those words. So until balance is achieved, their lives matter more.
Watch “Hamilton” if you can. Think about this country. Think about what makes you proud of it (if there’s anything anymore.)
We were a bunch of ragtag rebels once. Who burned things and refused to be taxed without representation. Who stood up to an upper ruling class who didn’t give two shits about us. Our country was built on the riots of people who had had enough of injustice. That’s why the FIRST amendment of our constitution guarantees the right to protest. Because for all the stupid ways those first founders screwed up, at least they recognized that a country full of free and empowered people is stronger than those kept under the shiny shoe of a narcissistic dictator.
Revolutions rarely take a day. They are years in the making, with sacrifices of blood and lives. Revolutions are not free. There is a cost to rise up against the powers that seek to tie us, bind us, use our one precious lifetime for their own gain.
I could tell you to sit back, relax, enjoy the barbecues and hot dogs, slather your standard American body down with potato salad and jump into a kiddie pool filled with Bud Light while waving sparklers from every available appendage…but I won’t.
Today I’m going to tell you to remember the past, remember the fight. Remember there are things worth standing up for and things don’t change unless you rise up and change them.
Free yourself from the fear, trepidation, and self-doubt that keeps you from standing up for the rights of every man, woman, non-binary, and child in this country. We are Americans and we stand together against the forces that seek to keep any one of us down.
Don’t give away your shot.
Be young, scrappy, and hungry, and take back your life, your country, and the principles that sparked revolution and never give up the fight to win freedom for all of us to pursue happiness.