Is Replacing White Supremacist Andrew Jackson with Former Slave Harriet Tubman on the $20 Bill a Sign of Change?

Is Replacing White Supremacist Andrew Jackson with Former Slave Harriet Tubman on the $20 Bill a Sign of Change?

Electing the country’s first bi-racial president, Barack Obama, in 2008 revealed that little unity between the races has transpired since the most oppressive eras in history. And now, in 2016, Donald Trump has incited more hate and division between the peoples of this country with his racist antics performed throughout his 2016 presidential campaign, supporting the fact that not much has changed to our racial social structure since Jim Crow and the Civil Rights movement. But amazingly, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew’s proposal to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman seem to have brought some form of agreement within the people, just not the type that one would wish for of a nation.

Both black and white people disprove of the replacement, however, their reasons for contempt is indicative of just how far from oneness we are as a country. Many blacks argue that replacing Tubman with Jackson on the twenty dollar bill is the country’s method to “silence” black people by creating the “illusion” of racial progress towards equality. On the other hand, the following Facebook post is exemplary of how many whites view the replacement:


First of all, let me say that Harriet Tubman couldn’t have been a better selection for honorary purposes as a result of her abolitionist and humanitarian efforts made during the Civil War. An escaped slave herself, Tubman refused to allow her own plight to prevent her from performing the now legendary and heroic acts of risking her recapture to help other slaves escape to freedom. She became famous as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad during the turbulent 1850s. Tubman’s accomplishments reveal a greater message that should resonate with people of all races, that:

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.

-Harriet Tubman

However there is nothing honorary about putting Tubman on U.S. currency. “Ms. Tubman was a victim of racism and chattel slave under the same exact capitalist white supremacy system that we are currently under. She, as well as other victims of racism and chattel slavery were bought and sold with the same ‘American’ currency we used today. Ms. Tubman didn’t fight for free trade, but for freedom. Not for competitive markets, but to destroy competitive markets that placed black slaves upon its’ auction blocks,” perfectly articulated by Michael Moore on a Facebook post.

Still, many disagree and believe that the replacement of former president Jackson with Tubman is an injustice to Jackson. Ben Carson, stated:

I think Andrew Jackson was a tremendous president. Andrew Jackson was the last president who actually balanced the federal budget where we had no national debt…. and in honor of that we kick him off of the money…but we could find another way to honor her [Harriet Tubman], maybe a $2 bill.

If Harriet Tubman were alive to witness Ben Carson say something so asinine, I think she would have said, “I freed a thousand slaves, I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.

For Carson to praise Jackson’s financial record while ignoring the devastation that he caused to the nation through a series of violations to state rights, his disastrous economic policies that lead to economic recession, and his complete contempt for non-whites only shows Carson’s ignorance and just how out of touch he is with his own blackness. Furthermore, for those who support Carson’s distorted position, and who marginalize Tubman’s humanitarian contributions and compare them to those of a criminal because they were “illegal” during that era is nothing but white supremacist ideology.

Their unsubstantiated stance does a major disservice to the American constitution: it is morally wrong to ignore the fact that there is true criminality and hypocrisy in a nation writing in its supreme law of the land that all people are created equal, and yet own slaves. Moreover, it is criminal to minimize Tubman’s achievements, compare them to those of serial killers and rapists, and then praise the “illegal actions” against mankind perpetrated by those that founded this nation.

I grew up like a neglected weed – ignorant of liberty, having no experience

-Harriet Tubman

Recently, I’ve witnessed CNN commentators suggest that Tubman should replace Jackson–an aggressive white supremacist who contributed to the Native American genocide and removal, and was a slave owner who vehemently fought against slave abolition–on the front of the twenty-dollar bill, but add Jackson to the back of the bill. To be candid, it’s a slap to the face to Tubman to claim a “partial replacement” with a man of Jackson’s stature on currency as honorary because it is a contradiction to her endeavors for human rights, and a hypocrisy to the supposed intentions of “capturing a historical moment for a multicultural, multiethnic and multiracial nation moving contentiously through the early years of a new century.

If anything, a partial replacement on the bill, in my opinion, is an exemplification of America’s ability to use an iconic minority as a figure head to create an illusion of “value,” especially to pacify those aiming for pervasive change in this oppressive and imbalanced society. It symbolizes the narrow and deceptive nationalism in using a respected member of an oppressed group as a front to render new “value” to all races, while white supremacists remain in the background, maintaining plutocracy and overall positions of superiority.

In general, although it’s great to replace someone of Andrew Jackson’s stature with an American hero like Harriet Tubman, I don’t believe that the gesture represents the start of any form of radical transformation in society, especially to the current racial social structure. Quite frankly, although the replacement of Jackson is phenomenal, it is a fact that most people neither recognize who is on each denomination of currency nor what their contributions are to the nation. Therefore, I believe to add Tubman’s face is merely the masses way of pacifying the current climate against racial inequality in hopes of silencing the revolution altogether.

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