After years of complaining that America’s paper money featured only dead white guys, a lot of folks on the Left are in a snit that Harriet Tubman is going to replace Andrew Jackson on the face of the twenty-dollar bill. You can practically hear them: “We didn’t mean a gun-toting, Bible-believing Republican black woman! We meant Angela Davis!”
Take in someone who goes by the name “Feminista Jones” (described as a mental health social worker), who writes that “Tubman wouldn’t want to be on the $20 bill.”
I was hesitant to support Women on 20s’s goals from the beginning, and now that Tubman has been selected, I’m certain: There’s no place for women – especially women of color – on America’s currency today. . . replacing the face of Andrew Jackson – a man whose wealth was made on the backs of enslaved black people – with Tubman’s image sounds like an idyllic reversal of fortune. But in examining Tubman’s life, it’s clear that putting her face on America’s currency would undermine her legacy. By escaping slavery and helping many others do the same, Tubman became historic for essentially stealing “property.” Her legacy is rooted in resisting the foundation of American capitalism. Tubman didn’t respect America’s economic system, so making her a symbol of it would be insulting.
American capitalism historically has been used to oppress and disenfranchise women and people of color. . .
Ah, now we get down to it: What we really need is not to replace Jackson on the $20 bill—we need to replace the $20 bill itself. Maybe Feminista Jones would be happier with the Ruble?
Stephen Thrasher of The Guardian is similarly dyspeptic:
To African Americans, Harriet Tubman was our Moses, guiding the enslaved to freedom by faith and the light of the North Star. Why cheapen her by putting her on the face on the 20-dollar bill – the very symbol of the racialized capitalism she was fleeing?
But now that Harriet Tubman has won the unofficial vote for which woman should replace Andrew Jackson, I am less thrilled. I don’t want to see an abolitionist icon as the face of American money. . .
I don’t want to see Tubman commodified with a price, as she once was as a slave. I don’t need to see hers as the face of the US treasury, being passed in transactions to underpaid retail workers and appearing in print ads for transnational banks.
If these people were any whinier they would be kicked out of pre-school. Maybe we should just forget about the whole thing and keep Jackson. After all, he bashed big banks, didn’t he?
[Hat tip: SC in Colorado.]