Here’s a guaranteed controversial topic:
Should we remove President Andrew Jackson from the face of the $20 Federal Reserve note and replace him with someone else not so white, someone who didn’t initiate the Trail of Tears and maybe is even a woman?
Jackson is the perennial favorite among the men depicted on U.S. paper money as ripe for replacement. Opponents cite his efforts in the forced relocation of thousands of Native Americans in what is called the Trail of Tears as prominent among the reasons he is undeserving of being depicted on federal notes.
Jackson was first depicted on federal paper money in 1863, on the $10,000 gold certificate. Jackson would also appear on many denominations, series and types of federal paper money, most prominently on every one of the billions of $20 Federal Reserve notes issued since Series 1928.
And that ubiquitousness is the problem in the eyes of some.
The fact that every person depicted on a small-size note is a white male is troubling, according to Huffington Post blogger Soraya Chemaly, who in a March 9 blog wrote, “Money designed in 1929 doesn’t meet the needs of today’s pluralistic society.”
Chemaly added: “Visible currency is part of daily life. Children see it, use it, need it, play with it, earn it, save it, spend it, worry about it and hear adults talk about it. The erasure of women from this media is one of the ways that we cultivate visual gender biases that make it possible for the absence of women in the public sphere to be ‘normal.’ ”
She added: “Money, like statues, holidays and postage stamps, is a form of public media that speaks particularly to what we, as a culture, think is important to note and admire. As is the case with most media, women and their contributions remain either hugely underrepresented or, in the case of paper money, totally erased.”
Chemaly was writing in March about the Women on 20s campaign, now just closed. The sponsors provided a list of 15 candidates to choose from, all women who made a difference in a particular way. Candidates included women’s vote advocates Alice Paul and Susan B. Anthony; anti-slavery leaders Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth; and Eleanor Roosevelt (the only woman depicted on federal paper money, in portrait form, is another first lady, Martha Washington); among several others.