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Keep Harriet Tubman – and all women – off the $20 bill - The Washington Post
"The Women on 20s campaign has declared that America needs the face of a woman on its currency and that woman should be abolitionist Harriet Tubman. The campaign petitioned the federal government this week after Tubman won an online poll that featured 15 historic women — including Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks and Susan B. Anthony — as candidates to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. As a feminist, I think this campaign is well-intentioned. Women are rarely acknowledged as important contributors to the creation and development of the United States, and Tubman especially is regularly overlooked. I even named her on my own list of candidates, initially. But I was hesitant to support Women on 20s’s goals from the beginning, and now that Tubman has been selected, I’m certain: There’s no place for women – especially women of color – on America’s currency today.

Harriet Tubman dedicated much of her life to subverting the system of forced labor and oppression that built America’s economy. Born Araminta “Minty” Ross, she spent her youth enslaved in Maryland. In one of her first of many acts of defiance, she changed her name to honor her mother, Harriet, after marrying a free black man. In doing so, she created her own identity outside of being a “slave.” Then, after escaping from a plantation to Philadelphia, she made numerous journeys back to the South to help liberate black people from the bondage of American chattel slavery. In a lesser known act of defiance, Tubman served as a spy during the Civil War, alerting the Union Army to slaves who would join its fight if rescued. Her information launched the Combahee Ferry raid that freed hundreds of people. Tubman was one of America’s first female war heroes and is known as the only woman to lead a raid for the Union Army.

On one hand, replacing the face of Andrew Jackson – a man whose wealth was made on the backs of enslaved black people – with Tubman’s image sounds like an idyllic reversal of fortune. But in examining Tubman’s life, it’s clear that putting her face on America’s currency would undermine her legacy. By escaping slavery and helping many others do the same, Tubman became historic for essentially stealing “property.” Her legacy is rooted in resisting the foundation of American capitalism. Tubman didn’t respect America’s economic system, so making her a symbol of it would be insulting.

American capitalism historically has been used to oppress and disenfranchise women and people of color. At various points in our nation’s history, women were forbidden from owning property, married women were forbidden from working, and black women were restricted to jobs as cooks and maids. Even today, economic injustice continues in the form of unequal pay, limiting women’s ability to reach their full economic potential. For every dollar a white man earns from his labor in the United States, white women earn 78 cents, black women earn 64 cents, and Hispanic women earn just 54 cents. This isn’t a result of a lack of effort to rise up. Even with a college degree, black women earn less than white men without one. Single black women have a median net worth of just $100.

America’s currency is viewed as a place to honor people of historic political influence. To suggest that black women are part of that club by putting Tubman’s face on the $20 simply would cover up our nation’s reality of historic and lingering disenfranchisement. Of the 104 women in the House of Representatives, only 18 are black, and only one black woman has sat in the U.S. Senate since the nation was founded. Of the 78 women in executive statewide offices, just one is a black woman. There’s no doubt that black women have a political representation problem in America. But putting the face of an admired black American heroine on currency won’t fix it – it will only mask it.

If having Harriet Tubman’s face on the $20 bill was going to improve women’s access to said bill, I’d be all for it. But instead, it only promises to distort Tubman’s legacy and distract from the economic issues that American women continue to face. While adding representation of women to an area historically dominated by men can be encouraging and boost women’s morale, the symbolism risks masking inequalities that are far more important.

Harriet Tubman did not fight for capitalism, free trade, or competitive markets. She repeatedly put herself in the line of fire to free people who were treated as currency themselves. 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,” were it actually bestowed upon her, of having her face on America’s money. And until the economic injustice against women in America ends, no woman should."
feministajones  harriettubman  2016  history  money  currency  capitalism  freetrade  economics 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Keep Harriet Tubman – and all women – off the $20 bill - The Washington Post
"Harriet Tubman dedicated much of her life to subverting the system of forced labor and oppression that built America’s economy. Born Araminta “Minty” Ross, she spent her youth enslaved in Maryland. In one of her first of many acts of defiance, she changed her name to honor her mother, Harriet, after marrying a free black man. In doing so, she created her own identity outside of being a “slave.” Then, after escaping from a plantation to Philadelphia, she made numerous journeys back to the South to help liberate black people from the bondage of American chattel slavery. In a lesser known act of defiance, Tubman served as a spy during the Civil War, alerting the Union Army to slaves who would join its fight if rescued. Her information launched the Combahee Ferry raid that freed hundreds of people. Tubman was one of America’s first female war heroes and is known as the only woman to lead a raid for the Union Army.

On one hand, replacing the face of Andrew Jackson – a man whose wealth was made on the backs of enslaved black people – with Tubman’s image sounds like an idyllic reversal of fortune. But in examining Tubman’s life, it’s clear that putting her face on America’s currency would undermine her legacy. By escaping slavery and helping many others do the same, Tubman became historic for essentially stealing “property.” Her legacy is rooted in resisting the foundation of American capitalism. Tubman didn’t respect America’s economic system, so making her a symbol of it would be insulting.

American capitalism historically has been used to oppress and disenfranchise women and people of color. At various points in our nation’s history, women were forbidden from owning property, married women were forbidden from working, and black women were restricted to jobs as cooks and maids. Even today, economic injustice continues in the form of unequal pay, limiting women’s ability to reach their full economic potential. For every dollar a white man earns from his labor in the United States, white women earn 78 cents, black women earn 64 cents, and Hispanic women earn just 54 cents. This isn’t a result of a lack of effort to rise up. Even with a college degree, black women earn less than white men without one. Single black women have a median net worth of just $100.

America’s currency is viewed as a place to honor people of historic political influence. To suggest that black women are part of that club by putting Tubman’s face on the $20 simply would cover up our nation’s reality of historic and lingering disenfranchisement. Of the 104 women in the House of Representatives, only 18 are black, and only one black woman has sat in the U.S. Senate since the nation was founded. Of the 78 women in executive statewide offices, just one is a black woman. There’s no doubt that black women have a political representation problem in America. But putting the face of an admired black American heroine on currency won’t fix it – it will only mask it.

If having Harriet Tubman’s face on the $20 bill was going to improve women’s access to said bill, I’d be all for it. But instead, it only promises to distort Tubman’s legacy and distract from the economic issues that American women continue to face. While adding representation of women to an area historically dominated by men can be encouraging and boost women’s morale, the symbolism risks masking inequalities that are far more important.

Harriet Tubman did not fight for capitalism, free trade, or competitive markets. She repeatedly put herself in the line of fire to free people who were treated as currency themselves. 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,” were it actually bestowed upon her, of having her face on America’s money. And until the economic injustice against women in America ends, no woman should."
harriettubman  capitalism  us  currency  history  2015  feministajones  oppression  economics  markets  race  politics  disenfranchisement  gender  women  resistance 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The Failed Attempt to Destroy GPS - The Atlantic
"An axe attack in the early 1990s damaged the same network of satellites that helps you map directions today."



"Acting in a tradition of civil disobedience established by the Plowshares movement while citing the leader of the Underground Railroad and the heroine of the Terminator series, the Brigade's target was the Navigation Satellite Timing And Ranging (NAVSTAR) Program and the Global Positioning System (GPS). Back then, GPS was still a fairly obscure and incomplete military technology, used in some civilian applications (the first civilian GPS device, the Magellan NAV 1000, came on the market in 1988) but far from a mainstream resource. Today, GPS feels almost more intimate than industrial or weaponized.

I tend to look at GPS mostly when I'm looking at myself. Or more precisely, for myself, rendered as a small blue dot on a map on my phone. Generally while doing this, I don't pause to consider how that blue dot on a screen is a function of at network of multi-million-dollar satellites in space sending signals to and receiving signals from my phone (yes, in addition to signals from local wi-fi devices and cell towers, but still: Giant machines in space talk to a tiny phone and that is totally normal and expected). It’s easy to take our machines of loving grace for granted when we experience them mostly as blue dots on tiny screens.

Twenty-three years ago, the Harriet Tubman-Sarah Connor Brigade was thinking about personal relationships to GPS, but more in the context of civilians killed by precision warfare and a population threatened by a growing first-strike nuclear capability. All of this is GPS' provenance. It’s a provenance easily forgotten given its far-reaching influence and impact—not just on navigation but on networks and on networked time. While the Brigade couldn't foresee GPS' temporal impact, their actions are a small but resonant moment in its history, and a reminder of how we neglect technology’s ambivalent histories at our own risk.

* * *

Peter Lumsdaine didn't express any regrets when I contacted him to learn more about the Brigade. He doesn't really share my sense of personal connection to GPS. Even if the technology has more and more civilian uses, Lumsdaine said, GPS remains “military in its origins, military in its goals, military in its development and [is still] controlled by the military.”"



"An accelerated age often appears to be a more anxious age—every now feels more now than ever, every crisis more urgent than the last. The Harriet Tubman-Sarah Connor Brigade offers a reminder that to some extent, our technological anxieties are the same as they ever were. States continue to build breathtaking killing machines, scrubbing the blood on their hands in the rhetorical lather of efficiency, of promising civilian applications. Resistance to these regimes is marked with ambivalence at the technologies, tactical instruments often mistaken for ideology manifest. Technologies and the power dynamics that shape their use become normalized. The accelerated age buries technological origin stories beneath endless piles of timestamped data.

When people lose sight of these origin stories, they do a disservice to our technologies and to ourselves. Forgetting that we live among dormant killing machines makes it easy to believe that they are merely machines of loving grace and not tools beholden to the power structures that control them, tools that paradoxically become inescapable as they grow more accessible. Recognizing and living with the ghosts in our machines is a precondition of using them honestly and, hopefully, responsibly.

When I asked Lumsdaine what he thought civil disobedience today might look like in lieu of taking axes to server racks he replied, "I think in a general way people need to look for those psychological, spiritual, cultural, logistical, technological weak points and leverage points and push hard there. It is so easy for all of us as human beings to take a deep breath and step aside and not face how very serious the situation is, because it's very unpleasant to look at the effort and potential consequences of challenging the powers that be. But the only thing higher than the cost of resistance is the cost of not resisting."

What Lumsdaine describes as resistance might be as easily called living with ethics, but ultimately the call to action for either term is, essentially, to take time. In the rush of a persistent accelerated now, interruptions and challenges to life in real-time are sometimes necessary in order to ask what kind of future we're building."
ingridburrington  ethics  gps  space  crime  2015  harriettubman  satellitles  maps  mapping  civildisobedience  military  keithkjoller  peterlumsdaine  harriettubman-sarahconnorbrigade  warfare  war  technology  government  resistance 
march 2015 by robertogreco

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