The New York Times has obtained an introductory design for the $20 bill, featuring abolitionist Harriet Tubman. The note has been delayed by the Trump administration for six years, and quite possibly may never see the light of day. While this has been distressing news for many Americans, who wished to see the first African-American represented on currency, it is incredibly ironic that Tubman, of all people, was chosen to be on the tool that keeps people both mentally and physically enslaved today.
Surely, the woman who preached of freedom and equality wouldn’t dare wish to be represented on a tool that divides us all. “Still can’t help but feel that Tubman would not want her face on the very economic engine that drove slavery to begin with,” wrote Twitter user @ramos_ravenna. Of course, money serves as a wonderful tool when placed in the right hands. It saves lives and creates monumental change–but it also has the exact opposite effect when one lacks financial resources. The power and greed that is present within our nation due to the love and obsession with currency is everything that Tubman certainly wouldn’t stand for today.
I’m all for representation, and I can understand the sentiment behind having an African-American woman as the face of the twenty-dollar note. However, we can create inclusion in more meaningful ways which will evoke emotion and encourage productive conversations, such as through the arts. Personally, I don’t see the point of having anyone represented on money. During the rare occasion that I use cash during a transaction, it makes absolutely no difference to me which deceased president or statesman is staring back at me. As we know, paper money is rapidly becoming a matter of the past. And in six years time, when the note could potentially be released, the rise of digital currency methods will perhaps cause this controversy to be, quite frankly, irrelevant.