Thursday, 21 April 2016

Keep Harriet Tubman – and all women – off the $20 bill

Feminista Jones is a mental health social worker and feminist writer from New York City.

Harriet Tubman did not fight for capitalism, free trade or competitive markets.

The Women on 20s campaign has declared that America needs the face of a woman on its currency and that woman should be abolitionist Harriet Tubman. The campaign petitioned the federal government this week after Tubman won an online poll that featured 15 historic women — including Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks and Susan B. Anthony — as candidates to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. As a feminist, I think this campaign is well-intentioned. Women are rarely acknowledged as important contributors to the creation and development of the United States, and Tubman especially is regularly overlooked. I even named her on my own list of candidates, initially. But I was hesitant to support Women on 20s’s goals from the beginning, and now that Tubman has been selected, I’m certain: There’s no place for women – especially women of color – on America’s currency today.
Harriet Tubman dedicated much of her life to subverting the system of forced labor and oppression that built America’s economy. Born Araminta “Minty” Ross, she spent her youth enslaved in Maryland. In one of her first of many acts of defiance, she changed her name to honor her mother, Harriet, after marrying a free black man. In doing so, she created her own identity outside of being a “slave.” Then, after escaping from a plantation to Philadelphia, she made numerous journeys back to the South to help liberate black people from the bondage of American chattel slavery. In a lesser known act of defiance, Tubman served as a spy during the Civil War, alerting the Union Army to slaves who would join its fight if rescued. Her information launched the Combahee Ferry raid that freed hundreds of people. Tubman was one of America’s first female war heroes and is known as the only woman to lead a raid for the Union Army.

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