There was a moment yesterday when the deep funk(Post Trump Stress) that I’ve been drowning in shifted. Minutes after leaving an online meeting with a few friends, I sat down to write what I can only describe as the most morbidly piece of depressive words that I’ve ever put in black and white. I knew that I was struggling as my withdrawal from 90% of online connectivity was enough proof but I had no idea just how bad it was until I started reading back my own thoughts.[clicks Move to Trash]
So, I retreated to my happy place…blasting the Hamilton Soundtrack so loud that its echos masked my terrible singing/rapping throughout the room. This act of proper sound defiance is how I have managed to cope since 11/9 and to my surprise, joining me in song was my nephew…no network news, cabinet appointments, racist epitaphs, ignorant tweets…just the simultaneous sounds of…
I am not throwing away my shot!
I am not throwing away my shot!
Hey yo, I’m just like my country
I’m young, scrappy and hungry
And I’m not throwing away my shot!
Through Hamilton, my nephew asked questions which led to deeper dialogue…
“What does it mean to cart slaves? What does that have to do with Alexander Hamilton?”
“What does Hamilton look like? When I google it, I just get the people from the musical. They’re taking over I think.”
“Do you have $10? Can you give me $10?”
Raise a glass to freedom
Something they can never take away
No matter what they tell you
Raise a glass to the four of us
Tomorrow there’ll be more of us
Nephew: “Well, there goes our freedom now that Trump is President.”
Braeden is 11 this is where his thoughts were after exposure to the political process and the adults who have felt the sting of this journey around him. Through Hamilton, we were able to talk about how our country started, checks and balances, slavery (of course) and resilience. People can still “rise up” to create change in the face of adversity.
We are a nation of people who have done this time and again and a great deal of that work happens right here at home in our communities and schools. This statement has never been more clear than when watching my nephew as he researched and formed his own opinions between stanzas and dialogue.
I know that we can win
I know that greatness lies in you!
But remember from here on in
History has its eyes on you.
At one moment, my nephew made the statement that the president didn’t affect him. He was still going to do great things regardless and to some degree, this was true but this conversation around what affects us and doesn’t is one that I hope more families are having. This is where we learn to open our eyes beyond our own “privilege” and understand how policies may impact those with different cultures, beliefs and experiences.
Even when we think that we may not be impacted, we most certainly are.
Truthfully speaking, I hope that years from now when 2016 is a part of a less watered down history lesson in schools, we’ll not just see that somehow we as a society elected a spineless demagogue for president but we will also see an uprising in community/state/national activism and that in this odd yet not new time in history…we the people managed to use our collective power to refuse returning to a time of beliefs against the diverse humanity forming the melting pot that makes us a strong nation of believers, thinkers, movers and shakers.
Tomorrow, I’ll return to my job with a new lens on life and an even stronger desire to continue to fight for those without a voice for themselves. It’s even more important that we continue to engage and learn beyond this election, utilizing our voices through interacting with our elected officials to demand that they do the work of the people…for all of the people.
It’s important that we continue to fight for each other…especially for public education…one that isn’t watered down by the often inaccurate words of textbooks but truly open so that kids can learn, debate and grow in a system where their beliefs are not just included but valued.
…and as my nephew uses his device beyond the creativity that has driven him thus far but for immediate accessibility to dig deeper into our world, it is also quite obvious that as the tone of our country has shifted…so should the tone of our conversations about purposeful learning and what accessibility to such truly empowers.
As we succumbed to the end of the soundtrack of Hamilton…through giggles, mispronounced phrases and a renewed spirit of self-resilience…
I was reminded (at a time when I desperately needed it) that just as self-care is about understanding our personal breaking points and willfully stepping away…it is also about finding it within ourselves to step back into the ring and fight again.
…sometimes that renewed spirit arrives at the drop of a beat…the sound of a musical that you’ve never seen and a precocious 11 year old trying to find meanings of phrases…of tunes stuck in his head because the same songs that have become your safety net are now his pathways to understanding that his story will too be defined by his inability to give on up on dreams and the fight to create the world that he envisions…in spite of the barriers created along the way.
In case you missed it…I needed this.
One more thing…
Thank you Lin-Manuel Miranda for creating this masterpiece that has inspired me to learn much more about history and government than I ever did in school. Thank you also for sharing it in such a way that even for families who haven’t yet had the privilege of witnessing this live, can find commonality in re-envisioning our nation as one that includes us all.