Harriet Tubman will be the first woman of color to ever have her image on the front of United States paper currency. It’ll take a few years to happen, because nothing happens overnight. She will replace Andrew Jackson, a founding father and slave master, who will be moved to the back of $20 bill. And some people of color seem to be opposed to this change. Seriously. I’m not making this up. Harriet Tubman has a Wikipedia page but still we oppose her image being on currency.
People of color are so afraid of change in this country that we don’t know when to embrace even the smallest victory towards positive progress. Black lives matter…, but shouldn’t be depicted or honored on the money that black people work to earn and spend? I’m confused by that. You mean to tell me that you don’t mind working hard, trapping and hustling to get lots of $20 bills with the face of a slave master looking back at you, but you’re in your feelings about that same currency having the image of a black woman, whose sacrifices made it possible for you to earn lots of $20 bills, in that slave master’s place? Clearly the United States government values Harriet Tubman’s contributions to our country more than some people of color do. And that’s sad.
White men have been considered the standard of wealth and more valuable than women throughout our American history, hence how these particular founding fathers all ended up on our paper currency in the first place. Women have only been on limited circulation coins, reiterating that women are worth “less” than men, in many ways. That mindset carries over into wage and gender inequality as well as women’s reproductive rights. We live in one of the oldest Democratic countries that has yet to have a female President. Several countries worldwide have a long history of female heads of state and have women on their paper currency as well. San Marino, Italy leads the race and has had 17 female heads of state. Syria has Queen Zenobia on their currency. If you don’t believe me, Google it for yourself. Some of the very countries who pay homage to the women who are and have been instrumental to their history are considered less progressive than the good ol’ USA.
It’s important to begin to honor women, and particularly women of color, more, from not only a socioeconomic level but also globally. We can’t expect to be valued and respected by others when we fail to honor our own. If we have Harriet Tubman on a $20 bill maybe it’ll become worth its actual value in the paychecks of women working for it as well.