Let our next greatest achievement be realizing the dream of full equality for all of us ...

- Human Rights Campaign President, Alphonso David, as reported by Maiysha Kai -

Advertisement

Harriet Tubman On The $20 Is, Officially, The Blackest Thing That Will Ever Happen

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

I was going to create of a list of things Blacker than the face of Harriet Tubman — perhaps the fiercest and baddest person to ever plant a foot on American soil — replacing Andrew Jackson's on the 20. This list would have included things like a spades game between Nat Turner, Shirley Chisholm, Nikki Giovanni, and Jesus. A spades game between Nat Turner, Shirley Chisholm, Nikki Giovanni, and Jesus in Youngstown, Ohio. A spades game between Nat Turner, Shirley Chisholm, Nikki Giovanni, and Jesus in Youngstown, Ohio where they stopped between hands to sample potato salad made by Marvin Gaye. A spades game between Nat Turner, Shirley Chisholm, Nikki Giovanni, and Jesus in Youngstown, Ohio where they stopped between hands to sample potato salad made by Marvin Gaye and listen to an "Inner City Blues" remake featuring Gaye, Nina Simone, Billie Holliday, and Sasha Obama.

Advertisement

But I decided not to. Because nothing I could possibly cite or conjure would be Blacker than this woman — this American who lived as a fearless, relentless, and unambiguous challenge of America; her very existence both an indictment of our nation and the fullest and beautifulest paean to the kidnapped Africans living within it — existing on our currency. The same currency she could have been purchased for 170 years ago. The Blackness scale has officially been broken. Obliterated. Decimated.

And all I know is that I will never break a 20 dollar bill again.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

panamajackson-disqus1
panamajackson

I'm definitely curious how this will be received by white women who fought for a woman on denomination of money. Not that I care necessarily. But I am curious if they view it as a win. Or is it one of those things where at the meetings they'll say, "we got a woman on the 20 dollar bill…but…"

Call it a morbid curiosity, but I would love to hear those convos.

Meanwhile, in 2030, when I'm soundly 50, a thug is gon' frame him a $20 bill.