Black Lives Matter and the $20 Bill – an Awful American Travesty

Tagline: What happened to the plans to place Harriett Tubman on the US $20 bill?

A previously unreleased conceptual design of a new $20 note that was produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and obtained by The New York Times depicts Harriet Tubman in a dark coat with a wide collar and a white scarf. This preliminary design was completed in late 2016.

Yes, I am a diversity and career development consultant. Yes, I am a competitive adult figure skater. My newsletter subscribers, clients and friends know this about me. But I am also a numismatist. What is a numismatist? A collector of money … not in the sense of hoarding it away, but appreciating the beauty, history and aesthetics of coins and paper money.

So how does this tie to my work as a diversity consultant and all the current focus on racism and “Black Lives Matter” during the recent weeks? Yes, there is actually a very recent sad story of sexism and racism as it relates to our US currency.

First, think about who is all the coins and paper money you see in circulation. All white men! Yes, a long time ago we had the mythical and beautiful “Lady Liberty” from the initial coinage of 1792 until the early 1900s. We also had the Indian head pennies and Buffalo nickels featuring stereotypical American Indian profiles glamorizing the days the “old west,” but denying the injustice of the horrible genocide of Native Americans at the hands of the white settlers. And the American oppression of the native population still continues.

Before featuring only US Presidents on coins, they included the mythical American Indian and Lady Liberty

But these were all replaced with US white male presidents.

So what is this little-known American sexist racist travesty involving the American $20 bill? As an American Numismatic Association Member for almost 40 years and an avid reader of their “The Numismatist” Magazine, I was informed of this tragedy… the derailment of plans to place African-American abolitionist Harriett Tubman on the $20 bill.

The background: Discussions began as early 2013 within the US treasury department on redesign of some of our paper money. At first, the $10 bill was being considered for redesign, but that shifted to the $20 due to the popularity of the Broadway musical “Hamilton.” (Alexander Hamilton is on the $10 bill.) Then a campaign called “Women on 20s” was started to advocate for placing a woman on the $20 bill in 2020 to mark 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment to the US Constitution granting women the right to vote.

After an online voting process, African-American abolitionist Harriett Tubman beat out second-place vote getter former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. President Obama’s Treasury Secretary Jack Lew then announced plans for Harriett Tubman to replace Andrew Jackson on the US $20 bill in 2020.

So then what happened? During the 2016 Presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump did make this one of his campaign issues, calling the decision to place Ms. Tubman on the $20 as “pure political correctness” while valorizing the current occupant of the $20 bill, seventh president Andrew Jackson.

Then on May 22, 2019, current Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the pushing back of the $20 bill until 2028, citing the need to prioritize money printing processes to further deter counterfeiting. Many believe (including this blogger) that this was a phony excuse from a sexist and racist administration. There really is no reason why the $20 bill redesign could not occur concurrently with anti-counterfeiting design measures.

Where do we go from here? Back in March, 2019, Senator Jeanne Shaheen introduced a bill to the US Senate to require the Treasury to place Harriett Tubman’s portrait on all $20 bills printed after December 31, 2020, but the bill has yet to receive a vote.

Hopefully a new President will appoint a new Treasury Secretary who can quickly reconsider this and drastically improve on this obscene 2028 timetable. Meanwhile let’s continue a grass roots efforts to fight all forms of racism and sexism in our society, including our failure to recognize the outstanding contributions of women and people of color by not placing them on our money.

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Blog author Stan Kimer is a diversity consultant and trainer who handles all areas of workplace diversity and with a deep expertise in LGBT diversity strategy and training, Unconscious Bias and Employee Resource Groups. Please explore the rest of my website and never hesitate to contact me to discuss diversity training for your organization, or pass my name onto your HR department.  [email protected]


COVID-19 Blog 5: Ingenious Ways to Upkeep and Elevate Your Business During the Pandemic

Added in 2024 – Minority-owned businesses were impacted much more by the COVID pandemic – one great way to support the Black community is to patronize Black-owned businesses.  Here is an article that lists over 150 Black-owned businesses. 


Minority-owned small businesses are being particularly hard hit by the COVID-19

From time to time, I post guest-written blogs, and my 5th Covid-19 pandemic blog is provided by previous 3-time blog contributor Marissa Perez. Marissa Perez, co-founder and head marketing writer at Business Pop, has spent the last 10 years honing her marketing skills, and now is sharing her small business / entrepreneurial expertise through this third guest blog she is providing.

This blog is quite relevant to my consulting area of diversity in that (1) Covid-19 is disproportionately hitting minority communities health wise and (2) small businesses impacted by the accompanying economic crisis are disproportionately owned by minorities or have minority employees. This “double impact” is truly having the most adverse effect on minority-owned businesses.

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If you’ve recently started a new business, you’ve probably noticed that life looks and feels different since the March declaration of the coronavirus pandemic. But just because things have changed does not mean that you should give up on your dreams. Keep reading for a few ideas to help you build and grow your livelihood while the world adjusts to a new normal.

Adapt Your Business Plan

You have a plan, and your plan was to stick with it. Unfortunately, the global situation changes from day to day, and it’s almost impossible to predict how this will affect your business. You need a contingency. Think ahead to many different scenarios to predict how they might influence the way you operate. ZenBusiness has a list of resources to help you do just that and also provides info on how to run things virtually and manage income streams and expenses.

Give Yourself Extra Space

While you may already have a room in your home that works as an office, as you continue to grow, it might make more sense to add an extra building to your property. A separate building will not only house your home-based business, but it will also help you keep it separate from your personal life. If you’re on a tight budget, a prefabricated metal building is a smart choice and one that will allow you to expedite construction so that you will experience few, if any, interruptions. Ask your building supplier about different layout options and pay close attention to style and design so that you don’t clash with the appearance of your neighborhood.

Dip Into Dropshipping

Dropshipping has been called, “one of the easiest ways to make money online in 2020.” But it is much more than that. A dropshipping business model can help you grow a current business. There are many benefits, but pertinent to today is that dropshipping eliminates the middleman. In other words, it reduces the number of hands that physically touch your customers’ orders. This can help lessen the chances of contamination, which, fortunately, according to Hackensack Meridian Health, are already low. It is possible, as the virus can live on cardboard for 24 hours.

Hire Remotely

Remote work used to be a novelty. That’s not the case today, and work-at-home opportunities have been popping up out of both necessity and convenience in light of the coronavirus pandemic. As a business owner, taking your company to a virtual workspace means that you have an unlimited pool of talent. But, you have to make sure that your communication is on point. Unitonomy stresses the importance of effective collaboration (using tools like Slack) and notes that to be successful, the people in your business have to feel connected to one another. Give each team access to shared information that’s specific to each project. You can also keep your teams on the same page by providing regular updates via a newsletter or recurrent blog.

There is little doubt that the coronavirus will continue to have a negative effect on small businesses across America. If you want to get ahead and continue to enjoy success, you have to get creative. This might mean looking for new revenue streams or adding extra space where you can run your business effectively and without distraction. One positive aspect of the pandemic is that remote work has become more available, and you should have no problem finding people who are ready, willing, and more than able to help you grow.