Dear Mr. Trump, My Gender is Not a Political Statement

Dear Mr. Trump,

If I had put my own life on the line to free several hundreds of slaves from southern gentry as an abolitionist, worked as a nurse to aid wounded soldiers during my country's Civil War, and spent my remaining days raising funds for a charity home, only to find out someone didn't want to put me on U.S. currency because it was jumping on a "politically correct" bandwagon, I would be really, really upset.

But still not upset enough to start the Trail of Tears, because that was President Jackson.

However, this article is not about what Andrew Jackson – current face of the $20 bill – did wrong, or how you probably would have hurt Harriet Tubman’s feelings. This is solely about the statement you made to NBC’s “Today Show” this morning about why Harriet Tubman should not replace President Jackson on U.S. currency.

I would completely understand if you were suggesting another American hero to interchange her. I was personally rooting for Susan B. Anthony for spearheading the women’s rights movement, or Eleanor Roosevelt, the first lady who was terrifically influential for her humanitarian work and youth advocacy. Unfortunately, you were not suggesting a different candidate, but rather Tubman be moved to a separate bill entirely.

And the reason? You told NBC adding Tubman to the $20 bill was, “… pure political correctness.”

After I saw your interview, I was confused. Being politically correct assumes the statement is being made to cater to a certain minority or interest group. And since slavery in the U.S. has been abolished since 1865 through the 13th amendment (and in part by Tubman’s personal efforts), it couldn’t have been towards slaves.

Oh no! Say it ain’t so!

Mr. Trump, were you suggesting that the reason incorporating an accomplished altruist such as Harriet Tubman could only come with the hidden agenda of appealing towards the female gender? Are you saying that despite all of her great efforts towards this country, one of America’s greatest advocates against HUMAN ENSLAVEMENT would only be given recognition to keep women happy?

My head was spinning. I’m not some man-hating, technology-obsessed, socialism-advocating millennial who spends all day vowing to move to Canada if you are voted in to office. In fact, I’m a Republican who harbors several controversially conservative views. And even though as a Journalism major I’ve tried to ignore you telling a reporter she wouldn’t have her job if she wasn’t pretty, or that a contestant on your television show would be a “pretty picture” on her knees, I couldn’t ignore this comment. I couldn’t disregard you insinuating my gender making strides in being represented was a political statement.

And now I’d like to tell you why.

1. Harriet Tubman has contributed immense humanitarian work

If you attended fourth grade, you learned about slavery in early America. It started during the conception of the original thirteen colonies, but flourished during the turn of the eighteenth century. A commercial transformation called the market revolution created virtually a new economy. Its catalyst was a series of innovations in transportation and communication that accelerated development already underway in the colonial era. However, inventions such as the cotton gin created the rise of the Cotton Kingdom, and the surge of cotton production required an increase of slave labor.

Harriet Tubman, a fugitive slave, conducted a series of secret routes and safe houses called the Underground Railroad. The network was run by fellow abolitionists to help runaway slaves escape to freedom. Additionally, Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad never lost a single person along the way.

Tubman’s lesser known work includes being a Union spy during the Civil War, as well as a nurse for wounded soldiers. She spent her remaining days saving up funds for a charity house for the poor.

There is not a single action Tubman contributed to the U.S. that disqualifies her for being on a form of currency.

2. Andrew Jackson IS NOT BEING REPLACED – nor would he even want to be on paper money

Despite what you may have read in the headlines of online articles, Jackson is not even being removed from the $20 bill. When the new design is released in 2020, Jackson is simply being bumped to the back of the dollar. According to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, Jackson’s face isn’t being completely removed, and will share the currency with Tubman – just on the other side.

However, I do not believe Jackson would have wanted either of that. Jackson only trusted gold and silver as currency and shut down the Second Bank of the United States in part because of its ability to manipulate paper money.

It isn’t like the seventh president hasn’t had enough face time on currency anyways. Jackson not only appears on the $20 bill, but his portrait in the past has also appeared on $5, $10, $50 and $10,000 denominations in addition to the Confederate $1,000 bill.

3. The female gender is not a political statement

I remember when Star Wars: Rogue One had a trailer released, and the comments solely focused on the fact that the main character seemed to be a woman. Many viewers were frustrated because Star Wars: The Force Awakens featured Rey; a female protagonist. The most common argument against the trailer was that Disney was creating female leads as a political statement to appeal to feminists.

Once again, Mr. Trump, I was confused.

Star Wars could pump out the same young white male character trope (Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Anakin Skywalker, Obi Wan Kenobi, etc.) for six movies, but introducing women main characters for two could only be described as catering towards a political agenda.

Women are not a minority. According to the 2010 U.S. census, women actually make up 50.8% of the population – a majority.

Mr. Trump, the accomplishments of people should not be rewarded or penalized based on their gender. Celebrating humanitarian work memorializes heroes and encourages ordinary people to act out against injustice. So when you called adding Harriet Tubman to the $20 bill giving in to “political correctness,” you expressed the notion that adding a national hero was less of a memorialization and more about suggesting a woman could only be praised for her accomplishments for the sake of catering to an interest group.

I’m glad we could have this talk. Not only is Harriet Tubman more than qualified to be on the $20 bill, but Andrew Jackson has been on his fair share of currency, and denounced paper money anyways.

Though I try my best to avoid political arguments and stay as unbiased as possible, this was a comment I had to educate you on. I know that an overwhelming amount of citizens will vote for you in to office anyways, but no matter how much you whine, they’ll be paying for their gas to the polling booths with the same abolitionist you denounced.

Besides, in my personal opinion, a man who has filed bankruptcy four times should have no say in any fiscal decisions.

 

Photo credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Sources:

A., S. J. "Major Accomplishments and Awards." Biography of Harriet Tubman. Hyperlink, n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.

Dougherty, Michael Brendan. "Andrew Jackson Was America's Worst 'great' President." The Week: Opinion. The Week, 16 Feb. 2015. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.

Forner, Eric. An American History: Give Me Liberty! 4th ed. Vol. 1. New York: W.W. North, 2014. Print.

Li, David K. "Donald Trump: It's Wrong to Put Harriet Tubman on the $20 Bill." New York Post: News. New York Post, 21 Apr. 2016. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.

Smith, Candace. "Donald Trump Wants Harriet Tubman on $2 Bill." ABC News. ABC News Network, 21 Apr. 2016. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.

Vox, Lisa. "How Did Harriet Tubman Find the Courage to Lead the Underground Railroad?" About.com Education. About, 7 Apr. 2016. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.