Living here in China, I have been somewhat out of the loop when it comes to news occurring back home in the States. One thing that caught my eye, however, is the changes that will be made to the $20, $10, and $5 bill. Rather than featuring the “Dead Presidents” of years past, these new pieces of currency will feature women’s rights and Black civil rights icons such as Harriet Tubman, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, and Eleanor Roosevelt.
On one hand, I suppose that it is nice to see diversity of representation on the currency of my native land, especially since we are supposedly a melting pot. Image is a huge factor in the Game of Power, and the inclusion of Black imagery ingrained in Americana certainly sounds appealing, especially in an age where it seems that there are fewer and fewer positive images of Black people in the world.
On the other hand, I see that most of this is feel-good rhetoric (at least in the case of Black folks; I will not be addressing the feminist aspect of the change, no pun intended). No matter how many Black faces are printed on currency, our wallets are still likely to be empty. If a [half] Black President didn’t do much to make things better for us as a people, then I just don’t see how having Harriet Tubman printed on currency is going to make the world a less hostile place for us. Any positive images of Black people seem to come too little, too late. The days of the Eighties, Nineties, and early-2000’s are over, as is the global promotion of “Black Culture” (at least that featuring Black people) as “cool.” This should have been expected because we were not the ones doing the promotion.
Just as the nickel once featured a Native American chief, I believe that the way things are going, the modern currency of the United States will feature Black people as relics of the past.
Without real image and networks, or “Face” as it would be called here in China, economic and social opportunities seem to be few and far in between, especially compared to other racial groups who are on the ascent. It seems that all other ethnicities are forming up and consolidating their power, creating barriers which we cannot pass. “People of Color” coalitions never existed, especially in a world where it is beneficial to be on the White side. Black people that still tout the PoC line have either failed to, or have refused to learn that people do what is beneficial to them, not what is “morally correct.”
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I hate to brood and sound negative, but I have to be real with you, dear readers. This is the way I see things going, at least on a macro racial level. If Black people do not take the lessons learned from the story of Harriet Tubman and get real work done and attain real power instead of begging for crumbs, then we are going right back to the cotton patches (figuratively, since immigrants and robots have that covered).
Let me end this on a positive note.
The doors are indeed closing on us as a People, and our candle is flickering away into the night, but for the time being, I am happy knowing that I make a bit of money here in China just like the Chinese make in the Hood selling weaves and fucked up food. I’m grateful that I am eating good, healthy Chinese food prepared for me by my beautiful Ms. Changsha. I am happy that I will learn recipes, and appropriate aspects of Chinese culture for my profit, monetary or otherwise, just as it has been done to Blacks. I might not have a $20 bill with Harriet Tubman printed on it, but I am happy to be stacking Maos, at least for the time being.
Let’s try to find what few opportunities still exist for us, and develop them into methods of attaining real power, income, and security, if these things are possibilities. Let us exercise the power that we do have in order to better our lives and defend ourselves. Let us try to enjoy life a little, but have something to truly enjoy.