April 20th of every year is always a controversial day. Usually, the controversy stems (pin intended) from advocates for marijuana use celebrating the day by smoking the illicit weed, talking openly about medical and scientific studies about the plant, and cracking “Four Twenty” jokes at 4:20 pm.
But this year, the day was more mired in controversy than usual, though not about marijuana. The focus was just on half of the “Four Twenty” holiday. The twenty half to be exact.
Or should I say, $20?
On April 20, 2016, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, announced plans for Harriet Tubman, former slave and suffragette, to replace 7th United States President Andrew Jackson, on the front of the twenty-dollar bill. The design is scheduled to be officially announced in 2020, likely again on 4/20.
But while the portrait of Tubman will grace the front of the $20 bill, Andrew Jackson will take over the back of the bill.
It goes without saying that this is a historic move for many reasons. The obvious of course is that this will be the very first African American on United States currency, and the first woman to grace a dollar bill, rather than just a coin. But this will also be the very first time two historical figures will occupy both the front and the back of the bill, and Jackson's role is stirring up controversy.
For starters, it is demeaning that the only time a Black woman gets to be on U.S. currency, her image has to be “chaperoned” by a White President. Some see this as a slap in the face, while others are just happy anybody of color is finally on paper currency. Okay, fine.
But let's not sugar-coat the actual problem.
Andrew Jackson was sworn into office in 1829. At the time, Harriet Tubman was seven years old, eating daily beatings while playing as housemaid and nanny to her then owner's baby. During Jackson's tenure in office from 1829 to 1837, he signed over 70 treaties with several different nations of Native Americans, only to go back on his word, setting off a chain of reactions that led to the Trail of Tears and the Second Seminole War, the first Seminole War Jackson had a big role in the creation of, just a few short years before he was sworn into office. His reckless behavior and choice of friends and eventually cabinet members, also sparked the Black Hawk and Second Creek wars respectively, leading to the blatant extermination and annexation of more than a dozen nations. It was all part of his Indian Removal plan, His double-crossing practice of signing a treaty only to send an army after the heads of those he signed with, leads to the joke of him being on a now two-faced bill.
During those same, blood soaked years, Jackson not only upheld slavery, but he tried to dismantle the First Amendment in doing so. How you ask? Simple.
Between 1835 and 1836, a number of abolitionists began sending petitions, letters and pamphlets through the mail, denouncing slavery and asking that Americans urge their congressmen and the president to abolish slavery. When word broke out about the tracts, pro-slavery terrorists began storming post offices throughout the country, destroying the tracts and obstructing the mail. Jackson not only supported the notion, he also demanded that the name of every abolitionist be posted publicly, along with their home addresses. He would later sign into law restrictions on what could be sent through the mail, to the point where only subscribers could receive the tracts, and postal workers who agreed with slavery, did not have to do their job to mail that which offended them.
A second slight came in the form of Texas becoming a state. Jackson had originally tried to purchase Texas from Mexico to the tune of $5000, but Mexico initially refused. But by 1836, pro-slavery supporters had made up their own band and had pretty much taken over Texas. Though Jackson tried to deny recognition of the state at first, a political game he played with friend and cabinet member Martin Van Buren. Once he was assured Van Buren ~ a man he later admitted to choosing because he needed “someone to control” ~ he not only acknowledged Texas as a state, he also voiced his support of their pro-slavery stance.
On the flip-side of the $20 bill, we have Harriet Tubman. Former slave who not only fought against everything Jackson's party seemed to support in regard to minorities, but a suffragette, who spent the last decades of her life fighting for a woman's right to vote, while also providing shelter and care for the sick and elderly.
Even in Christianity, the two couldn't possibly be more opposite. While Andrew Jackson would preach about his idea of good virtues learned from the Bible, he used the Presbyterian church for political matters and for saving face in his post-presidential years, while moonlighting as a Freemason, Harriet Tubman helped to grow the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, but only on the condition that a parcel of the land be used as a shelter for the elderly and those who were poor.
While it was no surprise to see Jackson's face on banknotes in 1869, today is a different day, in need of a more positive face on our currency, one that is not mired in controversy and race-based war mongering.
The choice of Harriet Tubman for the $20 bill is a positive first start in bringing equality to our currency, and as a historical icon, she is a great role model and perfect choice for the modern era. But to have her image chaperoned by the president who kept her enslaved as a child is at best an absurd oversight, and at worst, mean-spirited, supporting the ideology that you can't have a strong, Black woman, without having her being controlled.
Koriander Bullard is an author, cartoonist and human rights advocate. Keep up with her on Facebook!
There is no greater threat to this nation than that of church-based hatred. We see it every day on the news, and in the streets, from large cities to rural backwoods, there's no escaping intolerance in the name of the Christian God.
SB180 is a new bill of evil that was just passed in the state of Kentucky, and may very soon become a law. In short, SB180 would allow business owners to refuse business to not just people of the LBGTQ community, which has seen no end to the senseless attacks against them, but to interracial couples and to those who are of mixed-race heritage as well.
But here's the stickler. Let's say you enter the local McDonald's, and are refused business either because of who you married, who you are dating, or just how you were born. Not only is that McDonald's allowed do kick you out without granting you access to a Happy Meal, but under the law, you would be banned from ever suing the establishment. You would not be allowed to obtain a lawyer to fight it, and phoning a police officer for help will grant you a night in jail for Religious Discrimination.
In short, the bill, which is sponsored by several churches and has been paid for by a highly Christian based GOP, would ask you to lie down, take it and like it. You would be raped of your rights, and expected to be grateful for it. Similar bills have been on the table in most of the southern states. In certain areas of Tennessee, it's still considered to be perfectly fine to deny service to interracial couples and the LBGTQ community, with no sign of slowing down.
Aside from this nonsense being a blatant slap in the face to basic, American rights, the constitution, which the Christian based GOP only favors when they want to buy unnecessary guns after every school shooting, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and to supporters of Love vs. the State of Virginia, the bill has set me off on a personal level.
I am mixed-race am in an interracial marriage. I am White, Black, Cherokee, Chippewa, Iroquois and up the line, Lebanese and Chinese. I also have Jewish blood. Since the majority of my DNA is White and Black, I am predominantly a Quadroon, the product of a Mulatto mother and a White father. My husband is White and Lakota, but most just pass him as White.
It's enough when you have had a lifetime of strangers ~ all adults ~ questioning you. I am frequently amused by the disgusted stares after I answer my favorite question "WHAT are you?" implying that because I'm not 100% White or Black, I must be an animal. Most people like to place everyone they meet inside of a cubby hole, a category that comes with an easy to type tag on a Facebook photo. But when you are Mixed, you don't have that luxury. Depending on your ability to pass for White, you are either forced into a cubby tag that only describes a fraction of your DNA, or you check the box that reads "other" and watch in frustration as potential employers shred your application, because they can't figure out how to address you without feeling safe behind a tag they can label you.
But it's more interesting being in an interracial marriage. You will always have friends and co-workers giving you a half-sad, very weak smile, while they ask "so… what's it like for you two to be… YOU KNOW… because you're not really… well… you're different from him…" it's like they can't just say "is it any different from marrying your OWN kind?" so they try to find a more politically correct term, and in doing so, offend you more, because now you're not even a human being in love, you're a science experiment.
"Well what if you have kids? Won't they be… CONFUSED?? It's for the best to only be with your own kind." Funny, I am Mixed race, and yet I've never once been confused about my identity. In fact, I embrace being this way. I'm not the one who is insecure.
And yes, the straight up attacks are more plentiful when you marry outside of your race.
My husband used to be a wrestling promoter. One of our ex-employees would pretend to be like a sister to me on Facebook, but to her friends and in interviews, I was referred to as a "Fro Fro Side Piece" in reference to my "bushy, nappy" hair. My husband's ex-girlfriend texted him "I hop u dye in a care crash u stupied niger luvr" message, after she realized we were an item. And on a daily basis, I've noticed that certain female co-workers will talk to us both when he's in the room, but as soon as he leaves, I return to being the Invisible Woman. The dismissed housewife that people can talk about behind her back… only … in front of her face… because even though eyes are locked on me and I'm within arm's reach, they don't see me as being "there" in the physical world. So maybe, just the day to day intolerance has me steamed at SB180, which with careful re-wording, might just grant people like these the Congressional Medal of Honor in intolerance, In God We Trust.
Or maybe another reason why SB180 is angering me, is because I realize that in 2016, I just picked up my grandfather's fight.
Growing up, my grandfather told me horror stories about living in the 1960's. Perhaps one of the worst ones took place shortly after the Civil Rights Act was signed into law.
He said that one day, he opened the shutters to his apartment to find a riot in the streets. Blacks and Whites were in a fisticuffs with police officers, as the local "Bible Thumpers" were outside, screaming that blending the races was against their God's plan. The fact that both sides had a week earlier been to the same churches with the same copies of the same Bible didn't even phase the rowdy crowd. And yes, children were caught in the crossfires.
Realizing that some of the people below knew he is Black, knew where he lived and knew he was at the time, married to my grandmother ~ an immigrant from Germany who grew up in the Jewish Garment district of Berlin and had narrowly escaped capture by the S.S. ~ and that they were raising their Mulatto daughter, he panicked. And in fear, he locked my mother inside a kitchen cabinet, and stuffed my grandmother cramped inside a taller cabinet, and told them both to stay quiet until the fights were over. But more disturbing than hearing my grandfather having to pull an Anne Frank on his own wife and child, was hearing that this was a common occurrence for them. That even years after they broke up, both of my grandparents had to endure racial violence, just because they had my mother. That in 1974, my grandfather had to wait for the State of Indiana to approve a mixed marriage when they blocked him from wedding his second wife, because she was White.
And at every turn, the riots, the fighting in the streets, all of it started with a Bible. And here we are, some fifty two years past the Civil Rights Act becoming a law, and we still have a Christian based government, trying to pass clear and obvious discrimination laws against interracial couples, based off of religious ideology, rather than from the standpoint of basic human rights. The phrase "Love Thy Neighbor" no longer means acceptance, as Jesus Christ might have preached, considering the Middle-Eastern Jew had a litany of friends, including alleged "whores" and leapers, but now the "Love Thy" hashtag means that you show your "love" for people, by stripping them of their human rights, ridiculing them in the streets and taking an eraser to any American privilege that might offer them the chance at a wholly normal life.
SB180 mimics another problem my grandfather had to face. Jim Crow laws, the very same that segregated everything from boxing arenas to bathrooms and public water fountains. SB180 not only would re-open segregation laws, but would grant you a pat on the back for the use thereof.
Let's be clear. SB180 like Jim Crow, is an act of terror. It's not here to "protect" your right to pray to a sky God, it's here to terrorize everyday Americans and divide The Great Melting Pot of our nation. And if this is where we are heading in society, then we are no better than the terrorists on 9/11, who committed their heinous acts in the name of a sky God, and expected a reward for it.
Koriander Bullard is an author, cartoonist and human rights advocate. Keep up with her on Facebook!
As primary season is now upon us, people are currently deciding who to vote for when it comes to filling several important political positions in the United States of America. What alarms me is how ill-informed many voters remain when it comes to choosing a candidate at the voting booth. Six years ago, I conceived of a voter handbook comprised of simple common sense rules that should be applied by all potential voters. Now the need has arisen for an upgraded voter handbook, so here at last is that revised document. Print, clip and save!
DON’T vote for a candidate simply because Mom, Dad and all your friends are. That is never a good reason to vote for someone.
DO be your own person and vote for the candidate whom YOU think is the right one!
DON’T believe everything you read and barely half of what you hear. Politicians will lie through their teeth in order to gain votes and the mass media has a vested interest in supporting only candidates that will cater to their own biases and financial interests.
DON’T vote for any candidate simply because your clergyman demands it. God could care less about who occupies the Oval Office, the Capital or any political offices come January 2017.
And while we’re on the subject of God, here are a few more things to keep in mind. DON'T vote for any candidate who claims that God personally gave them the go-ahead to run for public office. If he exists, God has better things to do than appear before such clearly insane morons.
DON’T vote for any candidate that hides behind the Bible to justify their evil actions and laws. The Bible is the most abused book in the history of literature, as any passage is often twisted to support someone’s political agenda.
DON’T believe any candidate who claims that our founding fathers intended for America to be a Christian nation. This is a big fat lie constantly espoused by conservative Christian scumbags who use God and religion to push their evil agendas.
DON’T vote for any candidate who wishes to deny basic civil rights to people who aren’t white, Christian and male. Do you really believe that God would be okay with this? No he wouldn’t!
DON'T vote for someone because he or she is the same race and/or faith as you are. This is how cretins like Ted Cruz gain power while corrupt scumbags like Sheldon Silver and Charlie Rangel managed to stay in power for far too long despite their blatant criminality and disregard for ethics and rules.
DON'T vote for a particular party or family name simply because it's a family tradition to do so. This is how we end up with more Kennedys, Clintons and Bushes in power than any country needs.
DO vote for someone because they're smart and fully qualified, not because they play on fear and spew phony rhetoric and wild lies. DO remember this: candidates will say ANYTHING to get elected.
DO pay close attention to what candidates say in their speeches. Many love to use empty words and muddy rhetoric that sounds good to those who don’t bother reading between the lines. Always look for substance and some legitimate link to reality, not fantasy.
DO take a good look at a candidate’s history, both personal and professional. Far too many people fail to do this before exercising their vote, resulting in some of the most corrupt, incompetent and disastrous politicians to ever be elected in this great country.
While you’re doing our research, DO take a good look at the donor list of a candidate. If you notice tons of corporate sponsors or industry leaders on the donor roll, you can rest assured that this candidate has sold out to the special interests.
Continuing research, DO take a good look at the backgrounds of those who endorse a major candidate.
DON’T vote for someone because experts claim that he or she is the inevitable candidate. As Rocky Balboa once said, “it ain’t over until it’s over”. Translated to politics, it means until the last primary or the last candidate is left standing, NO ONE is inevitable.
DON'T believe that change is going to come quickly. It never does. The two-party establishment doesn’t want change since it wouldn’t benefit the bottom line of these greedy, corrupt buggers.
DON’T vote for someone simply because doing so would make history.
DON’T vote for anyone whose primary desire is to disenfranchise or belittle entire races of people and segments of society.
DON'T vote for anyone who promises to lower taxes. Whenever a politician talks about lowering taxes, it's solely for their rich brethren and never for those who desperately need it, such as the poor or middle class.
While we're on the subject of taxes, DON'T vote for anyone who promises to abolish taxes. GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz has gone on and on about abolishing the IRS. Taxes are necessary to run the country. Without them, how the hell will anything get paid for or accomplished?
DON'T vote for any candidate who resorts to insulting the child of his or her opponent. Minor children have nothing to do with a candidate’s fitness for political office. This also extends to grandchildren, as Hillary Clinton has belittled and insulted Bernie Sanders because he proudly acknowledges the progeny of his stepchildren as his grandkids.
DON'T vote for any candidate that resorts to belittling the physical looks of another candidate's spouse. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz AND Hillary Clinton have all been guilty of this heinous and deplorable campaign tactic.
DON'T believe 99.9% of candidates that claim that they aren’t beholden to the special interests. Unless their names are Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, they are beholden to these opportunists who have no qualms about buying candidates!
DON'T vote for any candidate who is in serious denial about the theory of evolution, climate change or any form of scientific fact.
DON'T vote for any candidate who lies about serving in Vietnam or any major war. If he is lying about that, who knows what else he's fabricating.
DO remember: power can corrupt even the most idealistic individual. For example, Senator Cory Booker has transformed from the earnest and painfully honest mayor of Newark into the corrupted Democratic Senator who takes the most money from the special interests and lobbyists.
DON'T vote for anyone who has a bad hairdo. If they can't get something as simple as hair down pat, how can you expect him or her to run the government?
If you DO follow all of the tips you have just read, you won't be like the millions who often regret voting for the person that they did come Election Day.