My fifteen-year old granddaughter and her BFF cousin spent last week with us (such joy) and entertained us by singing most of the songs from the musical Hamilton. They did a wonderful rap, introducing us to the work of actor, director, and visionary, Lin-Manuel Miranda. I’m smitten (I know I’m terribly late to the party, but out here on America’s West Coast we’re thousands of miles from Broadway!). For anyone who wants to see a great example of theatrical storytelling: watch Miranda’s rap for Obama’s 2009 Poetry slam at the White House (and long for better days!). I like it so much that I’ve watched it without sound just to enjoy the energy and charisma Miranda brings to his performance, even without his terrific lyrics.
The other reason I’m smitten is because Miranda is using his fame to focus attention on immigration by supporting the Immigrants: We Get the Job Done Coalition with some personal, Hamilton-inspired fundraising. He just released a video that riffs on the line from Hamilton: “Immigrants (We Get The Job Done).” The rappers K’naan, Residente, Riz MC and Snow Tha Product combine forces to show how vital immigrants and refugees are to America, addressing both their contributions and sufferings. With gritty clips of dark subway cars filled with the frightened faces of immigrants going to yet another of their many jobs, dirt-smeared workers doing work no one else wants to do, and hostile police raids, it’s not a light video to watch. But it’s worth seeing and I’ve seen it now multiple times.
I pray that Miranda does for immigration what his play Hamilton did for American history: get people interested.
As we celebrate Independence Day in the United States, we can think of George Washington’s response in Hamilton to the question “Does this mean freedom?” with two apt words: “Not yet.”
Freedom. Not to be taken for granted. Let’s get the job done.