In the Heights Is Cultural Erasure, Not Celebration

Melissa Barrera and Anthony Ramos in Into the Heights. (Macall Polay/Warner Bros. Entertainment) A goose-stepping, hive-mind musical for these progressive times

The worst cultural appropriation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights comes from the maestro himself. Altering lyrics from the song “96,000,” he reflects the current Obama-style imperiousness. Miranda had originally composed a Black Latino striver’s cheer: “I’ll be a businessman man richer than Nina’s Daddy / Donald Trump and I own the links and he’s my caddy”

Now Miranda rewrites it as “Tiger Woods and I own the links.” This update weakens the social and economic punch. It prevents In The Heights from celebrating triumphant American aspiration; now it’s simply about cultural erasure and self-delusion. Miranda’s Hamilton wasn’t a great show, but it epitomized the Obama era of political power worship through bizarre racial patronization. Now Miranda proves it was all in exchange for pettiness and Soviet-style dishonesty.

Miranda composed his 2008 show about New York City’s Dominican Republic enclave in Washington Heights as if he was putting its non-white immigrant community on display. It’s the same local-color concept handed down from Porgy and Bess, West Side Story, Zoot Suit, and Do the Right

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