Currency can say more than it’s worth on paper

Kyle Huizinga, Staff writer

The Bank of Canada has recently honored the life of Viola Desmond by placing her portrait alone on the new ten-dollar bill.

Desmond had to overcome many hurdles in life, partly because of her gender and partly because of her skin color. She was known in Canada as a civil rights activist and business women. Desmond was arrested and beaten in 1946 for sitting in a segregated movie theater and refusing to give up her seat as a black woman.

Her protest helped start the civil rights movement in Canada and she became an integral character in the push for ending racial discrimination.

This begs the question why hasn’t America updated its currency? The precious real-estate that is the design of currency is traditionally adorned with images of men who affected a country’s history positively.
However, there are alternatives to this system throughout the world. Countries such as England and China have their nobility represented on their currency.

After, the creation of the Euro, the images of major European countries were changed to represent places rather than people that are important to the continent of Europe and Japan has one of the few images of females on their 5000-yen note.

In America, our bills have remained the same for the last 90 years, according to the U.S. Currency Education Program.

The Boston Globe reported that the last major bill change happened in 1928 with the change of the twenty-dollar bill from Grover Cleveland to Andrew Jackson.

Though it may seem like all of our bills are dedicated to U.S. Presidents, this is a fallacy. Both Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin who adorn the 10 and 100-dollar bill never served as President.

Also, a limited run bill in 1861 hosted Salmon P. Chase an Ohio senator and governor.

There is space for non-presidents on our currency and with a history as rich an diverse as Americas a change is needed to represent that history.

An attempt was made in 2016 by then president Barrack Obama to put Harriet Tubman on the twenty-dollar bill, replacing one of the most tyrannical presidents in United States History: Andrew Jackson, according to the New York Times.

Jackson, a slave owner and historically known racist was responsible for the devastation of Native Americans and the trail of tears.

The L.A. Times wrote that President Donald J. Trump blocked this change as soon as he got into office and prevented the change from his favorite president.

This reaction is a perfect representation of America’s current politics, separated into two divergent groups.

Those who are brave enough to move forward and finally give credit and acceptance to those with genders, skin color, and sexual orientation not part of majority culture and those who fear change and progress and clutch onto the last vestige of the patriarchal control that has gripped this country for 242 years.

Updating currency has become common practice in many countries and should be adopted into American culture.

Giving people of color and other minorities the ability to see people who represent them on currency is a major statement from the government.

Linfield junior Antoine Johnson said, “Seeing someone of my culture on currency would be a big step in the right direction.” “Minorities who positively affected history are often left out of the dialogue of that history,” said Johnson.

Change happens in small steps that eventually add up to something great.

The value of changing our currency to represent the rest of history outside of the traditional white washed version is worth more than the currency in which its printed on.

A renaissance of social change and political action is flowing through America.

It is up to the people to step forward and declare that they want to change the things that seem common practice.

It is time that slave owners, racists and murders are treated as such, regardless of the positions they held and the good they might have done.

America is a melting pot, it must embrace its history and repair the damage done by a largely ethnocentric population.