Why Some Black Activists Say Plan To Put Harriet Tubman On $20 Bill Is An Insult To Her Legacy

This week, the Biden administration announced that it would resume efforts to put the image of Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, a move first championed by the Obama administration in 2016. Biden press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that the Treasury Department is “exploring ways to speed up” the process to ensure the 19th century freedom fighter is recognized.

“It’s important that our notes, our money — if people don’t know what a note is — reflect the history and diversity of our country,” Psaki said during a White House press briefing. “Harriet Tubman’s image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that.”

Many initially praised the move put forth by Obama-era Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to highlight the American abolitionist. To supporters, the idea of having Tubman, herself an ex-slave, replace former President Andrew Jackson, a slave owner, is a bold rebuke to an ugly era in American history.

But some Black activists say putting Tubman on the $20 bill is an uneasy fit with her legacy.

“Harriet Tubman did not fight for capitalism, free trade or competitive markets,” Feminista Jones, an activist, author and advocate, wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post in 2015.

“She repeatedly put herself in the line of fire to free people who were treated as currency themselves,” Jones added. “She risked her life to ensure that enslaved Black people would know they were worth more than the blood money that exchanged hands to buy and sell them. I do not believe Tubman, who died impoverished in 1913, would accept the ‘honor.’”

Tubman, born into slavery around 1822, was the fourth of nine children, and grew up working in cotton fields in Dorchester County, Md. In 1849, Tubman escaped her plantation under the cover of darkness, following the North Star to Philadelphia, and at 27 years old began working as a maid. After saving enough money the following year, she returned to the South to liberate her sister’s family. Over the next 10 years, Tubman helped more than 700 slaves escape to freedom, becoming the most well known of the Underground Railroad’s “conductors.”

Jones, in an interview with Yahoo News this week, questioned why putting Tubman on a bill would honor her legacy.

“Why would we want to put somebody who fought for freedom from this kind of capitalist oppression?” Jones asked. “Why would we want to take her image and then make her the face of this thing that so many people lack access to?”

“I’ve studied Harriet Tubman extensively,” she added. “If there’s one thing that I understand, is that she did not get recognized for all of the amazing things that she did. She died a pauper, and she was a U.S. veteran. The [country] should have honored her as a veteran. She was the only woman to lead a raid for the Union Army. That in itself is just an amazing accomplishment for the all-women crowd. So why not acknowledge that?”

Instead of putting a Black woman, or any woman of color, on a note, Jones says Black women merely want to be valued equitably in society.

“When it comes to representation, I’ll be quite honest, I don’t care much about it,” Jones said. “Representation without action, without policy change, without improvement of daily life means nothing to me.”

Historically, Black women have made a fraction of what white men and women make, despite being the most educated population in the country. For every dollar a white man earns for work in the United States, a white woman earns 79 cents and a Black woman earns just 62 cents, according to a 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

The median net worth of Black women in America paints an even grimmer picture. Single Black women ages 20 to 39 with children but without a bachelor’s degree have a median net worth of $0, according to a 2017 report from the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity. Single Black women ages 20 to 39 with a bachelor’s degree fare even worse, having a median net worth range of -$11,000 to $0. White women, on the other hand, fare considerably better. Single white women ages 20 to 39 with a bachelor’s degree have a median net worth range of $3,400 to $7,500.

The push to have Tubman on the $20 bill was initially set to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the women’s suffrage movement in 2020. But the year came and went without any revision to the $20 bill.

The plan to put Tubman on the $20 bill stalled under the Trump administration. Donald Trump, while still a candidate in 2016, called the push to replace Jackson with Tubman “pure political correctness.” He hailed Jackson as his political hero and installed a portrait of the former president in the Oval Office amid criticism from some historians and activists who noted that Jackson, in addition to being a slave owner, committed genocide against Native Americans.

However, not everyone is so supportive of the move. Ashley Stevens, a Black Twitter user with a substantial following, said she thinks “there’s some sort of perversion” in putting Tubman on the bill.

“A woman who was traded as capital becoming the face of capital doesn’t sit right with my spirit,” Stevens said Monday in a tweet that went viral. “If you wanna honor Tubman there are much better ways to do so that would change the material benefits of people’s lives. Build schools, parks, a historical center, etc in her name. Putting her face on the 20 dollar bill isn’t even a feel good. It’s giving me the yucks.”

Source: Yahoo

Racism Decimated Chinatown In New York, San Francisco And Seattle – Anti-Asian Sentiment Grew Over Fears Of COVID-19 Pandemic, After First Reported Outbreak In China

In New York, Seattle and San Francisco, where businesses and restaurants have suffered for months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Chinatown is marking a year since it first started feeling the effects of the global outbreak.

In the early days on the pandemic, as fear grew that the virus first reported in China would spread to the United States, growing anti-Chinese sentiment caused people to avoid the district, causing harm to the communities’ economies even before the first American case of COVID-19 was confirmed.

The impact worsened as President Trump continuously branded COVID-19 the ‘China plague’.

Asian American small businesses have been among the hardest hit by the economic downturn during the pandemic. 

While there was a 22 percent decline in all small business-owner activity nationwide from February to April, Asian American business-owner activity dropped by 26 percent, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. 

A year on, as the Chinese New Year on February 12 approaches, the normal 16-day celebrations are being abandoned for online events and the oldest Chinatown districts in San Francisco, New York and Seattle remain ghost towns.

Despite the younger generations coming to the communities’ aid, the promise of a faster vaccine rollout, and the aid of donations and loans, Chinatown businesses are still daunted by the uphill battling facing them in surviving 2021.

Source: Daily Mail

Photographer Nate Gowdy Captured Images Of The Chaos Outside The Capital – ‘Still Processing What I Witnessed’

Photographer Nate Gowdy has documented close to 30 official Trump rallies since 2016, so he thought he knew what to expect when he arrived in Washington, D.C. after leaving Atlanta this week.

“My flight from Atlanta to Baltimore the night before should’ve prepared me for what would be one of the most surreal scenes I’ve documented,” he explains. “I’d never been aboard a plane where the dichotomy of people’s views was so starkly apparent, with people donning red hats and Trump merch side by side with people just getting from one place to the other.”

A chant of “Four More Years” began and was booed by others on the plane, which then resulted in someone shouting: “Go back to Venezuela!”

After the events of January 6th, when a mob of Trump supporters breached the Capitol and swarmed for hours until they were ejected from the government building, Gowdy states: “I’m still processing what I witnessed yesterday. We all are. It’s difficult to know what people are thinking when they’re breaching security barriers, attacking law enforcement, threatening members of the media, flaunting pandemic safety protocols, and bashing down the doors and windows to Congress, feeling enabled by the words they’ve just heard uttered from their ringleader, the President of the United States, who tells them that they are fighting the good fight. Throughout the afternoon, I heard countless individuals quipping how it was the best day of their life, and that it was one for the history books. How do you capture something so unprecedented, particularly when you don’t believe the ‘truths’ they do?”

Source: Rolling Stone

Elaine Chao’s White House Resignation Falls Short – Despite Her Background As An Asian-American Immigrant, Activists Say She Leaves A Legacy Of Complicity With Anti-Immigrant, Racist Policies As A Loyal Trump Official

Some Asian American community leaders say Elaine Chao’s resignation as transportation secretary after the riot at the U.S. Capitol is inadequate after years of harm to marginalized groups and the immigrant community — of which she is a part.

Chao, who officially left her role Monday, is one of the few Asian American immigrants to have ascended to such heights in government. But activists say she leaves behind a legacy of complicity with anti-immigrant, racist policies as a loyal Trump administration official.

Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the social services nonprofit Asian American Federation, said that at this point, regardless of her exit, “damage has been done” to her reputation and credibility.

“Elaine Chao was complicit in creating a politics of toxicity and cynicism. Her decision can only be seen in that context,” Yoo said. “Her dissent was needed when Trump degraded, ostracized and isolated the Asian American community with his Covid-19 misinformation and outright racism or in any of the instances when Trump sought to hurt immigrants like herself.”

Chao, who said in her resignation statement that the violence at the Capitol last week had “deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside,” previously made history as the first Asian American woman to hold a Cabinet position. She hasn’t been afraid of opening up about her immigrant roots and her difficult early years in America. Chao, 67, came to the U.S. from Taiwan when she was 8 years old, speaking no English.

“I think you will understand when I say that our initial years in America were very challenging,” Chao, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told the newly naturalized citizens. “We didn’t speak English, had no family or friends here, couldn’t get used to the food nor understand the customs here.”

Her rise from her immigrant roots has made her a role model for some Asian American families. In an interview with CNN in 2017, Chao said that those from the community would show up anywhere, from public events to the airport, to greet her and that she would feel an “instant bond.” Activists say her actions have proven anything but supportive to immigrant communities.

Chao came under fire several times during Trump’s tenure for staying silent as he tried to institute hard-line immigration policies. In 2017, several Asian American organizations called on Chao to oppose Trump’s termination of the Temporary Protected Status programs for several countries, including Sudan, Nicaragua and Haiti. Temporary Protected Status is typically given to countries where conditions prevent nationals from returning.

They also demanded that she speak out against Trump’s attempts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that year.

While the majority of so-called Dreamers hail from Latin America, about 16,000 undocumented Asian youths are protected under the act. And Asian Americans are the fastest-growing demographic of undocumented immigrants, their population tripling from 2000 to 2015. Chao, however, was mum about the subject.

She also remained silent about Trump’s public charge rule, which denies immigrants residency if they are deemed likely to need public assistance, among other controversial policies. More than 941,000 recent green card holders would have fallen under the rule had it been in effect when they applied, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a nonprofit policy organization. Of those, 300,000 are from Asian countries.

But Chao possibly drew the most criticism for migrant family separation. While she did not comment on her stance, she did fire back at protesters at Georgetown University who confronted her and McConnell about the policy in 2018 and asked, “Why are you separating families?”

Chao shouted back, “Leave my husband alone,” winning praise among conservatives.

“She effectively colluded with the Trump administration in increasing the separation of our families and rescinding of the DACA program, denying access to public benefits and much more,” said Becky Belcore, executive director of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium, an advocacy organization that was among the groups that previously called on Chao to speak out against the immigration crackdowns.

“Chao was in a position of power that she could have leveraged to support the most marginalized members of our community,” Belcore said. “Instead, she was often seen standing next to Trump as he signed anti-immigrant policies into law.”

Advocates also said that in a particularly damning moment, Chao, a woman of color, stood by Trump at a news conference at Trump Tower in New York City as he neglected to call out hate groups and claimed that there were “very fine people on both sides” after white supremacists descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

While her husband, McConnell, had been feuding with Trump at the time, Chao told reporters at the news conference that she stood “by my man — both of them.” While it’s unclear whether Chao actively supported Trump or was required to do so in the moment as a Cabinet member, John C. Yang, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, said he believes her inaction had consequences.

“President Trump’s statement following the events in Charlottesville were reprehensible,” Yang said. “It is clear that his remarks were building to the insurrection we saw on Wednesday, and the failure of those around him to call out his behavior emboldened him. It is irresponsible and unconscionable for a sitting president of the United States to not only condone but to incite the behavior of people who are only concerned with holding on to white supremacist power.”

Belcore said she felt that Chao, who also served in a Cabinet position as labor secretary under former President George W. Bush, did not sufficiently protect vulnerable workers, including immigrants. But Yang said he felt that Trump’s “racism and xenophobia is toxic and dangerous, at a level not seen in recent presidencies,” taking more precedence compared to the Bush administration. He said that while immigrants and people of color were “under constant attack in dangerous ways” during Trump’s tenure, Chao was in a position in which she could have stood up more for marginalized people. He said it was “disappointing that she did not do so publicly.”

Yang acknowledged that Chao’s ascendance to a Cabinet position as an Asian American, a member of a community that continues to struggle with representation in the political sphere, was an accomplishment, but he said that doesn’t mean her conduct represented the community well. He said, moreover, that as Chao painted herself as a hard-working immigrant while supporting the administration’s anti-immigrant policies, she fed into the “good immigrant versus bad immigrant” myth.

Source: NBC News

Delaware Politician Lauren Witzke Has Meltdown Over ‘Third World’ Refugees and Muslims After Losing Election, Attacks Author Viet Thanh Nguyen Who Doesn’t Play Grateful Refugee Card

Twitter tirade: The former GOP senatorial candidate took to Twitter to attack author Viet Thanh Nguyen after her loss to Democratic Senator Chris Coons during the Senate election in Delaware on Tuesday.

  • Witzke began her attack after Nguyen tagged her in a tweet showing Coons receiving a total vote count of 290,996 (59.5%), while the Republican candidate received 185,442 (37.9%).
  • Nguyen also added a link to Witzke’s previous tweet where she urged for Western Europe to begin the mass deportation of Muslims in the region.
  • “It would be a shame if President Trump revoked your refugee status and sent you back to the third world where you belong,” Witzke said in her response to Nguyen.
  • Witzke assumed Nguyen was not a legal voter in her follow-up response, and doubled down on her remarks, calling him an “ungrateful refugee.”
  • The former GOP candidate then included the Democratic Party into their conversation and accused them of voter fraud.
  • “I don’t play the grateful refugee,” Nguyen said in his post. “That’s just a way of being silenced and being patted on the head. We can be grateful for the opportunities we’ve gotten in this country while recognizing its racist and white supremacist origins and reality.”
  • “This racism sometimes benefits those of us who are Vietnamese or Asian or refugees or immigrants, and this racism sometimes targets us. That’s how racism works. It makes you afraid to be the target so you shut up and hope you just reap some of the benefits. That’s what people like Lauren Witzke want. Compliant minorities who know their place.”
  • Witzke later blocked Nguyen on Twitter on Thursday night.

Source: NextShark

CNN Reporter Amara Walker Endures Three Anti-Asian Racist Encounters Within An Hour At Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport

Throughout the U.S. presidential campaign, Donald Trump has been deflecting criticism of his handling of COVID-19 by blaming China.

But the relentless linking of the pandemic to China has had negative consequences for Asian Americans, including CNN correspondent Amara Walker.

She recently described experiencing three anti-Asian racist incidents within an hour while traveling through Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

Following these events, Walker described what happened in a lengthy Twitter thread.

Amara Walker was trying to catch a flight back home when “a man of color” suddenly approached her and said, “Ni Hao. Ching Chong,” according to her Twitter and Instagram posts last Thursday.

The journalist confronted the man about his actions earlier, but he denied the incident and walked away.

Minutes after her first encounter, while Walker was explaining to her producer what happened, a young man without a mask approached them and asked her if she spoke English.

The unnamed man mumbled incoherently and allegedly started throwing obscenities at Walker. At this point, her producer and the other people nearby demanded the man to leave her alone.

Walker’s producer called airport security, but the officer who arrived angrily denied that what the young man did was racist.

“That was not racist! Ok? Asking if she speaks English is not racist, ok? Do you understand me?” the officer allegedly said.

“Asian Americans across the country deal with this on a regular basis and we’re not talking about it,” she said. “Many Asian Americans don’t raise our voices, including myself. I’ve probably wouldn’t have written about this if this wasn’t so egregious.”

Source: NextShark, Straight

Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans Are at an ‘Alarming Level’, UN Says

Experts from the United Nations (UN) formally expressed concerns about the growing number of attacks against Asian Americans amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the alleged lack of measures from authorities to combat them.

The experts, appointed by the Human Rights Council (HRC), serve as rapporteurs on (1) contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; (2) human rights of migrants; and (3) discrimination against women and girls.

“Racially motivated violence and other incidents against Asian-Americans have reached an alarming level across the United States since the outbreak of COVID19,” experts continued.

These included vandalism, verbal harassment, physical attacks, and refusal of service and access.

Verbal harassment comprised the majority of the incidents. Victims reportedly heard profanities such as “f**ing Chinese,” “die ch*nk die,” “yellow n*****” and “go back to China, b**ch!”

The group also cited the alleged link between President Donald Trump’s anti-China rhetoric and the surge in hate incidents. They noted that his actions have been “seemingly legitimizing” the phenomenon.

Trump has used controversial terms to refer to COVID-19, including “Chinese Virus,” “China Virus,” “China Plague,” “Wuhan Virus,” “Kung Flu.” The World Health Organization (WHO), a specialized agency of the UN, has long opposed the use of such terms.

“Don’t attach locations or ethnicity to the disease, this is not a ‘Wuhan Virus,’ ‘Chinese Virus’ or ‘Asian Virus.’ The official name for the disease [COVID-19] was deliberately chosen to avoid stigmatization,” the agency said in March.

Congress has since introduced bills (House of RepresentativesSenate) condemning all forms of anti-Asian sentiment. The House passed its version by Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) last month, which led to attacks against the official herself.