Orphan Immigrant Founding Father

Hamilton was the musical I never knew I needed.

 

My 14-year-old niece kept singing the song “Nonstop” from this musical during our 4th of July picnic, so of course, I had to see if the soundtrack was on Spotify.

Check.

Then the lyrics touched the part of me I don’t often think about.

“…bastard orphan… the ten-dollar founding father without a father…inside he was longing for something to be a part of… get your education, don’t forget from whence you came…  see him now as he stands on the bow of a ship headed to a new land. In New York you can be a new man… do they know what you overcame…another immigrant coming up from the bottom…”

I realized Alexander Hamilton’s story, the way it was presented in this musical, parallels my adoption story. I came from nothing, I lost legal ties to my biological family and was sent to America to become a new person. I am an immigrant and my mom remind me that I overcame health problems and extreme deprivation to go on to graduate from college and eventually land the career I have today.

Hamilton was the musical I didn’t know I needed because I can use it to tell my story in a unique way. Like our ten-dollar Founding Father, the trauma of my past, as well as my accomplishments in spite of my circumstances, shape the decisions I have made.

The cast members of this musical were the narrators of American History I didn’t realize I had lacked. During my schooling and when my mom and I would watch documentaries, history lessons came from white professors, teachers, scholars, and family members. Watching people of color narrate events of the Revolutionary War connected me to my roots as an Asian immigrant.

I have a lot of thoughts floating around that have been slowly solidifying since July when I first heard the soundtrack to this musical. They will come out in these next few posts, because this unique narrative of American history has made me explore and embrace my own history in a new way.

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