On the bill

Getting some diversity on the 20-spot is great, but how about some real change?

White men’s hearts really are in the right place sometimes. United States Secretary Treasurer Jacob J. Lew recently announced the final decision to pay homage to bygone abolitionists and suffragettes by putting their portraits on our money, meaning in the coming years we are going to see lots of women’s faces — and even Martin Luther King, Jr. — on our $5s, $10s and $20s. That’s really cool. Truly.

But meaning well by honoring what suffragettes fought hard for in the early 1900s doesn’t close the wage gap any more than naming a road Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. closes the education gap.

Even with trailblazing women and abolitionists like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and Sojourner Truth on the back of the $10 bill, we’ll still have misogyny. 

Even with African-American singer Marian Anderson, Eleanor Roosevelt and MLK Jr. on the back of the $5 bill we’ll still have racism, and Harriet Tubman replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill probably won’t make any white nationalists say, “Yeah, you know, that Harriet had a lot of lady-balls, which I respect, and the ongoing ripple effect of slavery and the cyclical plight of poor African Americans are real issues so I’m going to stop being a judgy, racist dick now.” 

If only it were that easy. 

I’m not saying that putting these people on paper money doesn’t matter. It’s a big acknowledgement of those who changed the landscape of American culture for women and African Americans. I love that girls and black kids will grow up seeing people who look like them exalted to a place that has, up until now, been a white-guy-only club. 

But even with the accolades for these late activists who did so much to try to level the playing field, the gaps in fairness still have a long way to go. According to the White House, in 2014 women still only made 79 cents to a man’s dollar.

There’s a certain irony to honoring pioneering women’s rights activists by putting their portraits on money, while today’s women are still often not paid equally even when doing the same work as a man. 

Susan B. Anthony said, “It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union.” Amen sister! And it’s still we, the whole people, who are keeping this thing together. Yet disparities are pesky little bastards who continue to proliferate regardless of all of our politically correct jargon and actions. 

The reality is that no amount of suffragettes on a ten-note will make a stripper or her patron pause to think about anything but getting paid and and getting laid, respectively. 

One step forward, two steps back. It’s just how we roll. 

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