Twenty for Tubman™
$20 – It can buy you a movie ticket and a small popcorn. Or four grande Starbucks beverages. Or an illegal sex act with a minor in some cities. It can pay for 100 hours for an indentured garment worker’s time in Bangladesh or for a portion of a survivor’s education and healing. I find it both ironic and appropriate that Harriett Tubman, escaped slave and heroine of the Underground Railroad, is replacing a slave owning president on the $20 bill, the same bill that can both fuel enslavement and assist in freedom of trafficked humans. Now I have nothing against President Jackson. I know very little of him except what I remember from high school (basically nothing) and what I have read in the news these past few weeks. I just think it’s time for a change, one that highlights the issue of modern slavery and how neglected women have been in the telling of our nation’s history. She will be the first woman on paper currency in over 100 years.
I have to pause for a moment because I am kind of blown away by those facts. I knew them, but seeing them together really bring home to me how much good (and not so good) $20 can do. I believe strongly that we are here to support each other, to collaborate and to lift each other up. I am choosing to focus on the good things that $20 can do. It is wonderfully fitting that a $20 bill with a former slave on it will be used to support freedom for those who are still enslaved. Until then, I will happily give up a few days of choices between a mocha frappuccino and a chai tea latte to make a difference in the life of someone who doesn’t have the ability to choose anything. And I will do it with a piece of currency that has a slave owner on it until the late 2020s. How perfectly ironic and satisfying. I will still enjoy my frappuccinos and my movies, but I will also enjoy the knowledge that each month, my “Twenty for Tubman™” (how I LOVE alliteration!) will be supporting survivors in their journey to becoming free. And that is something Harriet Tubman knew a lot about.