The new face on the $20 bill


It’s going to be…

Harriet-Tubman

HARRIET TUBMAN!

Excellent choice. It’ll piss off both the MRAs and the racists.

Comments

  1. says

    The change to the $20 should also piss off the conservatives who don’t like what Hamilton did while he was in charge of the Treasury.

  2. buddhabuck says

    “…will announce…”. So it isn’t officially a done deal yet? And keep in mind that the previous plan was to replace Hamilton. Who’s to say that a musical about Old Hickory won’t sway the Treasurer before this is implemented?

    My preference is for Hamilton (founder of the Bank of the US, first Treasurer of the US) to stay and Jackson (enemy of the banking system, génocidaire, judicial contemptor) to go. But until it’s more concrete, I’m not getting my hopes up.

    Of course, this is fueled by my general dislike of “…will announce…” news stories. I’d love to see a written press release by a company or government official that says something like “Since the news of our upcoming announcement has already been printed in the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, and reddit.com, the scheduled press conference has been canceled as unnecessary.”

  3. themadtapper says

    I saw this on Reddit first, and while most of the comments were either “good choice” or “yeah, this will piss off misogynists/racists”, there were also plenty of predictable comments by said misogynists and racists. Naturally lots of insistence that it was all about “political correctness”, or snide shit like “when are we going to get a transsexual illegal immigrant on a bill?”. But the best one was a guy harping about how Levi Coffin did so much more for the underground railroad, and therefore deserved the spot more, and that putting Harriet Tubman instead was basically “applying affirmative action to history”. I tried to go back and double check to make sure I wasn’t misquoting, but it would appear that he has deleted his comments from the thread due to backlash.

  4. fernando says

    Good choice: an heroine in the fight against slavery, a woman that helped to free alot of enslaved people. Enraging racists, misogynists and other unsavory people is only a bonus…
    Now… when you erase “in God we trust” from your money?
    “E pluribus unum” is enough and a much better symbol of the USA.

  5. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    cervantes,

    Yes, wouldn’t she look nicer is she smiled?
    /sarcasm

    See many conversations about women being expected to smile and look pleasant, and having their “resting face” commented on, for explanation on why the sarcasm.
    She doesn’t really seem like the smiling type, at least from the photos I googled. Frankly, if they pasted a smile on her for the bill portrait, it would be insulting. Take her as she is or just leave her alone.

  6. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    She doesn’t really seem like the smiling type, at least from the photos I googled.

    Back then no one smiled for the camera. That’s a fairly recent trend, and it seems Kodak is to blame.

  7. says

    Cervantes:

    Hopefully she’ll look a bit happier in her portrait.

    Oh FFS. Really, this is coming from you? I’m all kinds of disappointed.

  8. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    [OT]
    What a Maroon,
    So I’m not a total freak because I find it difficult to smile naturally for the camera? Good to know.

    Does anyone have a book recommendation for a good biography of Harriet Tubman? Or about black abolitionists in general?

  9. JohnnieCanuck says

    I’m looking forward to a national dialogue about how women are expected to keep a pleasant and attractive expression on their faces at all times, the better for men to fantasize about them.

    It will work best to that end, if they do use her natural expression in the artwork.

  10. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    Beatrice,

    I can’t comment on your freakiness, but difficulty in smiling isn’t a symptom.

    And to get this back on topic, I think the photo above would look excellent on the 20.

  11. says

    I’m just saying that nowadays, the convention is that we look happy to be portrayed. I said explicitly that it’s fine with me that she has that expression.

    Sheesh.

  12. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    cervantes,

    OK, I don’t want to argue, but

    Hopefully she’ll look a bit happier in her portrait.

    is not the same or even similar to

    I’m just saying that nowadays, the convention is that we look happy to be portrayed.

    It’s like, two completely different statements, only related to each other by both of them mentioning “looking happy”.

    And sheesh right back at you.

  13. numerobis says

    None of the other faces on the bills in my pocket are smiling. Hamilton is the cheeriest, QEII is second-cheeriest. Laurier looks stoned.

  14. Usernames! (╯°□°)╯︵ ʎuʎbosıɯ says

    FTFA:

    On the flip side of the $5 bill, the Lincoln Memorial would remain, but as the backdrop for the 1939 performance there of Marian Anderson, the African-American opera star, after she was barred from singing at the segregated Constitution Hall nearby.

    That’s… FANtastic!!! w00t!

  15. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Love the choice of a black women opposed to slavery, and for equal rights, including voting, for women. That it pisses off the bigots and misogynists is just a bonus.
    And as long as the cashiers and automated tellers accept it, great. Gotta keep feeding the Redhead or she gets cranky.

  16. erichoug says

    When I was a kid, I thought she was the angriest looking woman I had ever seen. Then I read some more about her life and her work to free slaves and I realized she was probably slightly less angry than she should have been.

  17. brett says

    I just realized that moving Andrew Jackson to the back of the bill works on multiple levels. It keeps him on the paper bank-note of the spiritual descendant of the Second Bank of the United States, which he would have loathed. It makes him play second-string to a black anti-slavery activist, which would also have made him angry.

  18. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    brett,

    Hell, he would’ve dropped dead of apoplexy when he learned that his party got a black man elected President.

  19. numerobis says

    My FB feed includes an FoaF saying:

    hamilton is staying only because of the ridiculous racist anti white broadway show

  20. numerobis says

    What a Maroon: he’d probably have invaded Canada when it named a first nations chief as justice minister. (Or for no particular justification.)

  21. flange says

    You rarely see anyone smiling in photos taken before 1900. Photo emulsions could require 1 or 2-minute exposure times. Try holding a smile for 90 seconds.

  22. says

    RawStory already has a piece up featuring nasty Twitter responses to the announcement, including idiots babbling about white genocide.

  23. Ragutis says

    Oh great, a future of scratching out racist crap on my money.

    Good thing I’m poor.

  24. tomh says

    Plenty of time for the whackos to get used to it, since the earliest the new bills will appear is 2030.

  25. treefrogdundee says

    She was my choice, too. And now to turn it over to the “Damn Obummer white-hating commie Muslim!” wing-nuts. Your tears of impotent rage are always delicious.

  26. Hoosier X says

    I was rooting for Ida B. Wells.
    Read Ida: A Sword Among Lions by Paula J. Giddings.
    She was a black female journalist who crusaded against lynching from the 1890s to 1920 or so. She moved away from Memphis when her newspaper was fire-bombed.
    She did research on lynchings and called b.s. on white Southern rationalizations that lynchings were necessary to protect white women. Less than a third of the lynchings she researched involved black men accused of raping a white woman. (And this is of course completely independent of how many of the victims in those lynchings had committed a rape, or even if there had been any rape at all.)
    She really upset the Southern White Power Structure when she started talking about how often white women were actually interested in black men. And how often white men abused black women with no consequences. And how disappointed she was that so many black men attacked her because of how much they loved their comfortable positions in the Gilded Age.

  27. cartomancer says

    I didn’t know much about the faces you put on US banknotes, so I looked them up. Apparently this is neither the first woman, nor the first member of an ethnic minority on your money (though she is the first black person, and given how long the other two were on them, she might as well be). Apparently Martha Washington was featured on one dollar notes from1886-96, while a Sioux leader called Tȟatȟóka Íŋyaŋke was featured on five dollar notes in 1899.

    So that’s two centuries odd and just over a decade with anything but wall to wall old white men. Most of whom were politicians. Not exactly a record to shout about.

    We’re a little bit better in the UK, on gender at least. We’ve only had anyone but the reigning monarch on our money since 1970, and in those four and a half decades there have been sixteen characters depicted, three of whom are women (that’s including the forthcoming Jane Austen £10 note and Winston Churchill £5, the other two women being Elizabeth Fry and Florence Nightingale). We did have something of an internet hoo-hah for about five minutes when Austen was proposed for the ten, but it didn’t cause rucktions. It was more that she was nudging Charles Darwin off the note than that she was a woman, leaving no scientists at all since James Watt took over from Isaac Newton on the £50. When these two are in circulation we’ll be left with a novellist, an economist, an engineer and a chubby old racist who gets far too much praise.

  28. themadtapper says

    Oh great, a future of scratching out racist crap on my money.

    Crap, I didn’t even think about that. Yeah, here in the deep south we’ll end up with lots of defaced Tubman bills. And my father will have quite a laugh every time he sees such defacement, and then with a totally straight face insist that it’s absolutely not because he’s racist, but because he just loves to see people “sticking it to those pesky PCs that play the race card all the time”. He’ll be insufferable enough as it is when November doesn’t go his way. At least, as tomh pointed out, it is going to be awhile before we get the new bills, so it will be a few years before I have to deal with that.

  29. drken says

    Well, I was on team Jeanette Rankin , but I never get what I want. First female congressperson. Elected to represent Montana as their at-large representative in 1919. Montana had already given women the right to vote, but she was unable to vote for herself for federal office. She was a pacifist who voted against entering both world wars. I though the fact that she was a Republican would get some on the right to push for her (and I’m sure some did), but it’s not to be.

  30. cartomancer says

    I don’t know what it says about our respective countries, but thinking further on this, I note that the vast majority of people on US notes are political people – presidents, senators, ministers and state governors, with a smattering of generals. In Britain we tend to use cultural and intellectual figures of note (indeed, Churchill will be one of only two primarily political or military figures we’ve ever used – the other being the Duke of Wellington). Obviously ours also feature the king or queen, who is technically our head of state and thus represents the political side of things.

    Tubman seems cast from a very different cloth to the usual suspects. Which is good. Perhaps this marks the beginning of a new outlook.

  31. says

    Oh dear.
    This development is not going over well.
    No no no no no.
    The shitpistons of the world (i.e. racists and misogynists) are not liking this at all.
    Some don’t know who Tubman is (lolwut?).
    Some don’t like her bc she ::ahem:: stole property (that would be black people they are referring to as property) and was a criminal (bc slavery being law was somehow something worth upholding).
    Others don’t like her because they think she was a terrorist.

    But they can rest somewhat easy, since Jackson will be on the back of the bill, bc apparently Tubman isn’t good enough to carry the entire damn bill by herself.

    (and no she doesn’t “need to smile”)

  32. archangelospumoni says

    AS we hear plenty often, some folks are mad about the President’s executive orders, which are actually BELOW AVERAGE in number, but that is not the story. As part of the President’s last year, aka “the unblackening” of the White House, I think he should do as many as his little heart desires. DOZENS EACH MONTH if he wants. He has been far too civilized the whole time in my book. Has sat there and taken abuse and has NOT been the angry black man.

    Moving on . . . HOORAY for Tubman on the currency. . . So the President writes an executive order that JANIS JOPLIN goes on the back of one of the bills–maybe the same $20–with Tubman on the front–combination of Joplin and Tubman entirely appropriate IMHO:

    “FREEDOM” in big letters over Janis Joplin’s portrait and “Just another word for nothin’ left to lose” right below in smaller print. In that nice curved, arched printing setup. A nice portrait of Janis–not a ratty-looking one but a medium one. Maybe the one with the great big eyeglasses . . . .

    Now THAT would be my kind of executive order!!! Listen to the righties SQUEAL.

    The treasury should rotate folks on bills just like all the changes to the coinage. Get busy, Treasury Department.

  33. chrislawson says

    If they were dead against putting lawbreakers on money regardless of how unfair the laws were, then there should be no Americans from the War of Independence on any bills or coins now, should there?

  34. anchor says

    I see resolve and dignity in her face.

    Its just fine.

    Are there any men smiling on U.S. currency? I can’t think of any.

  35. numerobis says

    Tony@36: that’s annoying me as well. Basically, Tubman is only getting 3/5ths of the bill.

  36. Bob Foster says

    Can I get her face on my debit card? That’s all I use anymore.

    I confess. I’ve fallen for the Big Banks cashless ploy. The only time I use cash anymore is when I go to the local farmers’ market. I guess if pot gets legalized here in Virginia I’ll be running to the ATM more often.

  37. thebookofdave says

    Stick with Tubman’s stern face. Her sincerity is satisfying. I can remember the best $20 I have ever spent. Now I’m looking forward to the best $20 to share.

  38. says

    An excellent choice, but why stop at one? Who’s next? Put Grace Hopper on the ten both to represent STEM and because it looks like a binary number.

    A significant detail not mentioned above in the comments is that this is the regularly used twenty, not the less-used ten as some were advocating. Putting Tubman on the ten would have repeated history, demoting her to a second class historical figure.

  39. dianne says

    Jackson isn’t exactly sunshine, smiles, and unicorn farts in his currency portrait either and he had far less reason to be pissed off at the world.

    @Tony 36: Well, crap. Just when I was getting to think that the US was getting (one of) its genocidal maniac(s) off its money. Having Jackson on the $20 is like having Hitler on the 20 Euro note would be. Just…bad in so many ways.

  40. carlie says

    I’m already seeing bigots complaining about how she’s displacing a founding father.

    Founding Father.

    Born in 1767. 9 years old when the Revolutionary War started.

    Sure. “Founding Father”.

  41. Gregory Greenwood says

    Harriet Tubman is an excellent choice to appear on the twenty dollar note. It is only a small recognition given the vital importance of her life and work, but it is long overdue.

    While the embittered tears of misogynists and racists over this decision are on one level amusing, it is simultaneously depressing that there are still so many people in the modern US (and the broader world) who rail against the inclusion of an important historical figure who fought bravely against the abomination of slavery simply because she was Black and a woman.

    Every time I see some bigoted idiot drone on about how this is ‘the victory of cultural Marxism’ or some similar drivel, I find their wilful ignorance comedic right up until I remember how many people will be nodding along gravely as if this racist blather makes total sense. And if Trump does somehow become the next President (still a possibility, lest anyone forget), people like that will be in charge.

  42. dianne says

    I’m already seeing bigots complaining about how she’s displacing a founding father.

    Wha? Are they confused and still thinking she’s going to be on the $10 or are they just, um, not very good at US history? Not that I wouldn’t mind it if the infamous slave holder and only semi-competent general on the $1 were replaced.

  43. Hoosier X says

    Other suggestions for a white male on the currency:
    Charles Sumner
    Jello Biafra
    Albion Tourgee
    William Lloyd Garrison
    John Quincy Adams
    Cassius Clay (1810 to 1903)

  44. says

    @50 I’m a big fan of Garrison as far as it goes. Aside from Adams, I’m ashamed to be unfamiliar with the others you mentioned, so I’ll remedy that immediately.

  45. drst says

    @left0ver1under @ 44 – they’re not stopped at just one. Women will now be on the backs of several other bills including the $10 and $5. You might want to read the linked article.

  46. anbheal says

    The absolutely pathetic melt-down in the Right-o-sphere (and Fox) was predictable, to be sure. The vitriol in this instance is particularly revealing, in that it will have zero effect on anybody’s life, and the Right has been lobbying for Reagan to appear on a bill or a coin for decades, so it’s not as if they’ve ever considered changing a face to be heresy until now. Truly, virulent racism is the only uniting theme behind the four strains of modern conservatism (robber barons, theocrats, angry under-employed white men, and gun-totin’ Libertarians).

    What’s funny is that Mexico is so breezily creative with their bills. They have an artist on one (Diego Rivera), a communist who committed adultery with Trotsky on another (Frida Kahlo, of course), a tiny full-blooded Nahuatl who was one of the hemisphere’s most important people ever (Juarez), Moctezuma, a runaway American slave (Morelos), a sheriff’s wife who defied him and climbed out on the roof to yell a warning tothe rebels (La Corregidora), a priest (Hidalgo), a bandit (Villa), and if they decided to put Selena’s image on the 20, nobody would give a rat’s ass. They could probably even get away with Subcomandante Marcos. It still buys the same amount of food.

  47. blf says

    I wouldn’t mind it if the infamous slave holder and only semi-competent general on the $1 were replaced.

    I’d like to see George Washington Carver on the 1USD — which really should exist only as a coin, and not a note, but that’s a different issue — partly, admittedly, so the eejits wouldn’t be able to say “Geo. Washington” was being replaced… Professor Carver has numerous merits and makes a viable candidate, in addition to not being yet another dead rich white male politician / scoundrel.

  48. dianne says

    Seen on Facebook, but I don’t remember who said it (sorry, person I’m failing to give credit to!): Poor Andrew Jackson! Forced by the federal government to relocate. It must be awful for him.

  49. DLC says

    Some bonehead already put about the idea that “only Presidents should be on US currency!” — totally ignoring the fact that neither Franklin nor Hamilton were President of the United States. For that matter, neither was Salmon P. Chase, of the now out-of-circulation $10,000 bill.

  50. DLC says

    Oh… and. . . extra post. Yes, I think Harriet Tubman is a brilliant choice for the $20.00 bill. Jackson shouldn’t be on any — aside from his misdeeds during his career, he hated paper money and was against there even being a Federal Reserve Bank.

  51. Crimson Clupeidae says

    I can’t wait until some redneck buys his confederate flag with one of these…..