As Black individuals, our ancestors have been trafficked and thought of lower than human so slavery might domesticate America’s economic system and assist it develop into a superpower. So, no, I don’t need to see a Harriet “Moses” Tubman debit card.
I don’t care that the financial institution is Black-owned. When is the final time you used your debit card or money and actually inspected whose face was on it, and cared sufficient to be taught extra about their life, and who they have been? Is that this actually homage in any respect?
4 years in the past, when the US Treasury introduced the $20 invoice can be redesigned with Tubman’s portrait on the entrance and Andrew Jackson on the again, I used to be confused. It simply didn’t really feel proper. And the since-stalled plan nonetheless stinks.
A slave proprietor who constructed his wealth on the backs of Black people nonetheless will get to sit down on the $20? She simply joins him? This isn’t my model of justice or fairness. The objective is to not be part of the oppressors. That’s not fairness.
I consider in representational justice. I need to see Harriet Tubman correctly celebrated in American historical past, in Black historical past, in feminist historical past. However I can’t perceive how shopping for companies and merchandise is respectful to her legacy. I can’t fathom how debit playing cards and straight money, the very issues nonetheless used in the present day to purchase people, lifts the legacy of Tubman.
Black individuals constructed this nation. But we have been denied humanity, and, as soon as we have been free (a few of our ancestors needed to buy their freedom), we have been denied alternative. Banks performed a giant position in disenfranchising us. Keep in mind redlining? Banking had a job in financing cotton crops. Banks owned slaves. Banks nonetheless have racist mortgage practices. And Wall Avenue is financing non-public prisons. So, no, these days aren’t over. OneUnited is Black owned and never a part of that historical past, however financial injustice continues to be one in all our nation’s main issues, dividing and debasing individuals.
I’ve not forgotten the place I reside, in Boston, the place the median internet price for non-immigrant African-American households within the better area is $8, in keeping with “The Shade of Wealth in Boston.” The 2015 report by the Federal Reserve Financial institution of Boston, Duke College, and the New Faculty didn’t get the numbers fallacious: $8, not even sufficient to make it to the Tubman $20.
On common, Black girls within the US are paid 39 % lower than white males and 21 % lower than white girls. And the hole widens the extra educated and profitable we’re. I don’t desire a Black individual, particularly not a Black girl, and by no means Harriet Tubman on cash.
Turning Tubman into forex, the very factor she escaped being, isn’t how we pay our respects. Memorials, murals, monuments? I’ll take them. Let’s see some motion on the Honoring Harriet Tubman Act, the bipartisan laws launched by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, a New York Democrat, final summer time to position a statue of Tubman within the US Capitol.
Tune in to “Harriet,” the movie that took greater than 25 years to make from the time Gregory Allen Howard was employed to write down the screenplay — you already know the movie a Hollywood exec as soon as thought Julia Roberts ought to star in as Tubman?
However placing Tubman’s face on cash received’t repair that sort of ignorance or systemic racism.
We have to do higher by Tubman. Honor her by honoring humanity, by standing up for others, by actually celebrating her legacy. However our faces on cash? That’s not our North Star to freedom.
Correction: An earlier model of this story incorrectly referred to the kind of card with Harriet Tubman’s picture. It’s a debit card. The Globe regrets the error.
Jeneé Osterheldt will be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @sincerelyjenee