Wednesday, 20 April 2016

No Pleasing Some People

from The Guardian

To African Americans, Harriet Tubman was our Moses, guiding the enslaved to freedom by faith and the light of the North Star. Why cheapen her by putting her on the face on the 20 dollar bill – the very symbol of the racialized capitalism she was fleeing?

When I first heard about Women on $20s, the unofficial contest to get a woman’s face on a $20 bill, I thought it sounded great: dudes have occupied greenbacks for centuries in the US. The female visages of Sacagawea and Susan B Anthony have been relegated to dollar coins no one gives two cents about.

But now that Harriet Tubman has won the unofficial vote for which woman should replace Andrew Jackson, I am less thrilled. I don’t want to see an abolitionist icon as the face of American money. I am quite content with my mental image of her conducting the Underground Railroad, that secret antebellum network of other former slaves and abolitionists who risked their lives to smuggle slaves out of the United States and into Canada.

We had weeks, or was it months of #OscarsSoWhite. The Guardian will give Lenny Henry every opportunity to talk about how underrepresented black people are at the BBC (he might have a point, but I'd like less Lenny Henry). And here it is, a black woman gets put on a bank note, and well deserved in the case of Harriet Tubman, replacing some very historic white dudes and now the Graun can't just find the good in it. It's like they just like being pissed off and have to find a way to be so.



Rich Tee said...

This is the age old phenomenon of something being more attractive when it is illicit and counter-cultural, and losing its appeal when it is adopted by the mainstream which is seen as "selling out".

Mark Wadsworth said...

"It's like they just like being pissed off and have to find a way to be so."

Exactly, that is the whole point of the G.