The Delay on Harriet Tubman’s $20: Do We Need Black People On Our Currency?
When it was officially announced that famed abolitionist and Underground Railroad leader Harriet Tubman would be the face of the new $20 bill, Black people rejoiced. Now the production and circulation of the bill has been delayed and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wants to know why, reported USA Today.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced last month that the bill’s redesign would not be ready for the planned 2020 rollout. Schumer wants the Department of Treasury to “ensure that political considerations have not been allowed to infect the process for designing American currency.”
In short, Schumer wants to know if the Trump Administration is keeping Tubman’s $20 out of circulation to appease it’s racist base. This latest development brings up a valid question asked by British columnist Afua Hirsch recently in The Guardian.
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“Is it really progressive to cast those who rebelled against the US’s enslavement of Africans – a device to industrialise the black body in a depraved pursuit of profit – on the currency that symbolises that very system?”
In other words, Hirsch wonders not if Black people deserve to be on currency, but rather if currency deserves to be graced with the regal presence of individuals who fought against racism, white supremacy and the capitalistic society that sought to keep them enslaved for economic gain.
After giving this question much thought, Hirsch arrived at the conclusion that many others have. Black people’s contributions have been overlooked and whitewashed for so long throughout history that such an acknowledgement is long overdue.
While printing Tubman’s $20 will not dissolve America’s inherent racism that has Schumer calling for an investigation in the first place, it is a step in the right direction.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined her colleague in condemning the delay, calling it “an insult to the hopes of millions.” As America has shown all too often, in some cases, delayed does mean denied.