Minting Blood Money

Woke culture has decided to put Harriet Tubman on the soon-to-appear, twenty-dollar note, surely a most undignified place for her to rest.

Slaves were bought and sold for cash, and now Tubman will be forever imprisoned in an instrument entirely dedicated to facilitate the act of buying and selling.  She will never rest in peace.

As a slave who became a fierce abolitionist and the savior of many others like her, she pulled off repeated escapes to continue her resistance. Someone of such strength and compassion would not have taken kindly to being commodified and forever tied to the US Dollar — quite literally blood money to her.

From my perspective, Harriet Tubman is being used to feed the commerce of trendy cultural perceptions, at the pleasure of self-satisfied glitterati short on depth and long on opinion.  I see no art or intelligence in this choice.  It was low-hanging fruit for influencers.

I’m all for banning “old hickory” Jackson from our current twenty-dollar bill. The man was responsible for coordinating the pursuit and savage killing of many Indigenous People. But that didn’t mean hand-cuffing Harriet Tubman to the marketplace, just so we can have a Kumbaya moment of “honoring” a slave of exceptional grandeur.  She never would have seen freedom in that, because there isn’t any.  And neither should we imagine we’ve advanced freedom from racism with this new minting of blood money. Not even close.

With the new twenty-dollar bill we will not be honoring Harriet Tubman, quite the opposite: We’ll continue to worship at the altar of the Thirteenth Amendment in the Constitution, which to this day still condemns to slavery felons behind bars.

So much for the culture of woke and PC, where some intolerant people make a living selling fake tolerance. They could focus instead on changing actionable discourse in the Constitution and elsewhere.  Hard work, yes, but the kind that actually helps people live better lives.  Harriet Tubman lived to free other slaves so they could live better lives.

There are American thinkers and scientists, philosophers and artists, explorers and inventors, legislators and humanists, and indeed many other notable men and women whose contributions have helped people live better lives. Any of them would have been a sensible choice to grace this new bank note, because none among them was ever bought or sold at a slave auction.