Tubman’s take-over the $20 is toxic


We use $20 bills all the time. Whether paying for dinner, a shirt at your favorite store, or even gas, we are often trading the Andrew Jackson-covered, Federal Reserve-stamped slip of paper.

By 2020, the $20 bill will look very different as Harriet Tubman graces the front of this currency instead of Andrew Jackson.

This money remodel has been widely debated and, while many feminists are thrilled about the swap, I don’t think Harriet Tubman being on $20 bill is beneficial.

Before continuing with my opinion, I should disclose that I’m an avid feminist. As President of Staples’ Women’s Advocacy Club, I’ve often been referred to as my class’s “resident feminist” and my friends’ “token feminist friend.”

I always want to support the increase in exposure for strong women like Tubman. However, this money remodel is simply a conciliatory, symbolic government action that doesn’t actually address the real problem with money in this country: the wage gap.

I can’t deny that Tubman on the bill will spread awareness for this deserving woman and be a step forward for better representation of women in our society.

However, Tubman becoming the face of the $20 bill doesn’t actually change anything about the status of women in the United States. Will the new $20 bill address the growing number of attacks on reproductive rights? Gender inequality in the workplace? Poor political representation for females?

No, the new $20 bill doesn’t actually make a difference in crucial gender matters, most importantly wage equality; it simply makes a symbolic statement. The symbolism of the new currency is a nice gesture, but it can often also mask the truth of our current situation.

According to a survey conducted by Pew Research in April, white women earn 78 cents to a white man’s dollar and black women earn 64 cents to a white man’s dollar. There have only been 18 black female Representatives and only one black female senator.

This economic and representational injustice is absolutely unacceptable and anything to mask the issues that still exist is not worth the minimal exposure the new bill would create.

As we prepare for 8.5 billion $20 Tubman-printed bills to go into circulation, we must remember her social justice legacy, not to rest on our merits, but to continue furthering equality in America.