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Support Ham4Change & Smile A Bit – or My Ode to Oak

Support Ham4Change & Smile A Bit – or My Ode to Oak

It is no secret that I fell for Hamilton hard when I saw it on its debut day on Disney+. I’m not sure if my soul just needed something to hold on to in this time of weirdness for our country, or if I was just so freaking tired of being sad and mad at the loss of a second sibling, that ANYTHING with a good beat and talented folks would make me happy. Hamilton did.

Specifically, Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules Mulligan. Now, Oak has captured my eye with his work with Ham4Change and I’m all in.

Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules Mulligan – from the Hamilton Book

I REALLY like this picture y’all. This screams city swag.

The last time I wrote this intensely about a musical was back when we could still go to movie theaters and I was on my fourth viewing of The Greatest Showman. Hamilton goes harder in the paint. I cried the first time I saw it, and I wasn’t even 30 minutes into the musical. The sheer fact that everyone on that stage was PURPOSELY a person of color and they were using HIP-HOP to tell the story of a bunch of white guys who weren’t really sure ALL men were created equal was refreshing. And yes, I KNOW that there are issues. We ain’t talking about that today.

Now, let me say something is going to cause a bit of confusion for a moment, but stay with me here. Onaodowan, or Oak as he introduces himself to others, but y’all know how I feel about names, and using them properly, plays two characters in the almost 3-hour long musical. Hercules Mulligan in the first act, and the quiet and mousy James Madison in the second. I’m all over Hercules. Like, he’s the MAN in Act 1. He’s the Trevor George Smith Jr. – Busta Rhymes for those who don’t know – of his motley crew, and he’s all about swag and brunt force. He’s the guy that you want on your team when you have to tussle with the other neighborhood crew. He’s the character that REALLY drew me in, and I can’t quite place why outside of him being the most Chicago out of the men even though they were all from New England, and felt like home. What can I say?

Ham4Change - Daveed Diggs, Okieriete Onaodowan, Anthony Ramos
photo credit: Cosmopolitan

However, Oak in his true form, when he isn’t acting reminds me so much of my brothers Gabriel and Daniel. Yep. Both of them. He’s the right type of goofy, and if today’s antics were any indication, he uses sound effects just enough to almost make you want to sweep his legs, but you don’t because you know that your mother will pull a switch on you. The best kind of sibling. And I can resolve the fact that he’s created a character who I’m quite enthralled with, with the fact that he literally is a person who could have grown up with me.

Last week – or two weeks ago, what is time these days? – Oak tweeted that he and the original cast from Hamilton were coming together to do something good to combat all of the crapola that’s going on in the world. And they were going to offer those of us who donated something awesome. And they delivered. Big time.

Ham4Change – The Fundraiser for Everyone


During a Ham4Change Fundraiser, I got to tell him that I’m proud of him. That he reminds me a lot of my brother, and that I think it’s pretty awesome to live in a world where he’s around. Which is weird, because I typically keep my celebrity deep thoughts to folks I know that I will never be able to meet in real life. However, after watching Hamilton for the first time I told everyone that I was going to meet Oak before the year was over, and that happened today. NOW, I’m putting it in the air that I will interview him for the blog, and we’ll get into more of his acting background and all that good stuff. Y’all cross your fingers for me. I’m still kind of salty that I didn’t get a photo with him, but maybe next time? Apparently, I was too calm for the girls, so I’ll try to geek out a bit more the next time we speak.

ANYWAY – they’ve been having these fundraisers over the last couple of weekends, and I wanted to share it with you all. For $25 you can participate in a live stream with the original cast where they share behind the scenes information, and just catch up with each other, and allow us to hang with them. For an extra charge, you can snag a 1:1 private video chat with some of the cast members. Be forewarned, it’s only a minute, so make the most of it!

Last week’s live stream went to benefit When We All Vote, LEAP – Law Enforcement Accountability Project, & BEAM – Black Emotional And Mental Health Collective

Today’s live stream went on to benefit Until Freedom, Dance 4 Hope, and Color Of Change all great organizations and ones that I have put on my donation list for the rest of the year.

You can get your tickets for the August 15th live stream >>HERE<< and they go on sale first thing in the morning! 10 am PST to be exact. This week’s live stream will benefit Know Your Rights Camp, Black Aids Institute (BAI), and the African American Policy Forum.

Now would be a great time to get to know these organizations and others in your area who are doing the hard work to break down systemic racism, and support intersectionality as well as marginalized groups in and around the United States of America and the world. You don’t have to limit your donations to the live streams either. You can donate any time, and continue to do so at your discretion.

Usually, an article like this would come because it’s sponsored, but I felt deeply moved this year because of *gestures wildly in the air* Y’all. The country is failing us badly, and I wanted badly to feel like I’m doing something about it.

So I did. More than I’ve ever done. We’ve gotten loud about the We Sow We Grow Project. We’ve cleaned up spaces in our neighborhood. I’ve started speaking out more on platforms other than my personal ones. I’m willing to put my income at risk for righting the wrongs of this world. It’s weird that I saw all of the Hamilton projects over the years but it took me actually seeing the production to connect just how much they care about the world we live in. Ham4Change may continue for years, I don’t know, but I love that I was able to be part of it in 2020.

In a time where lip service is prevalent – just take a look at companies no longer touting Black Lives Matter all across your email blasts any longer – I want to walk the walk to the point where people will never have to wonder where I stand.

Good trouble is being thrown around a lot too. Apparently, I’ve been in good trouble quite often in my life, it just wasn’t labeled that at the time. Now I can look back and know that I was walking among giants.

Rise up.

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