Why Is The $20 Harriet Tubman Bill Being Delayed? Racism and 'Deep-Seated Misogyny,' Critics Say

Critics have slammed the Trump administration over a delay in plans to redesign the $20 bill to feature anti-slavery activist Harriet Tubman, dismissing officials' claims that a push for "security" improvements was behind the slowdown.

After he was asked whether the Trump administration was still on track to meet the $20 bill's 2020 redesign deadline, which was established under the Obama administration, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Representative Ayanna Pressley that the new bill was unlikely to come out until 2028, citing "security features" around U.S. currency.

"The primary reason we've looked at redesigning the currency is for counterfeiting issues. Based upon this, the $20 bill will now not come out until 2028," Mnuchin said, before adding that the $10 and $50 bill would likely come out before then.

While Mnuchin maintained the delay in the $20 bill that would celebrate Tubman, who helped free dozens of slaves through the Underground Railroad, came down to "security" issues, many have dismissed that justification as an excuse for what they say is a combination of racism and "deep-seated misogyny" at play.

"The white supremacists running this country are not about to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill to have y'all contemplating racism and resistance every time y'all go to the ATM," said artist Bree Newsome Bass, who weighed in on Twitter.

"Y'all gonna get that good ol' agent of genocide Andrew Jackson," Newsome Bass said, referring to the seventh U.S. president, who is currently on the $20 bill.

Others agreed, arguing that the Trump administration was simply pandering to "white supremacy" by stalling on the redesign.

"Make no mistake: the decision to cancel the unveiling of Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill is purely to pander to white supremacy. Period," Charlotte Clymer, a communications representative for the Human Rights Campaign, tweeted. "Being 'delayed until 2028' is a goddamn lie. This is an attempt to make fragile white people comfortable."

"Honestly, who is surprised by this?" author Soraya Chemaly, who wrote Rage Becomes Her, a book on the power of women's anger, said. "Its easy enough to blame on the Trump administration, but, in fact, no administration seemed to understand why it matters. It's deep-seated misogyny."

As Pressley pushed Mnuchin to answer whether he supported plans to redesign the $20 bill to honor Tubman, Mnuchin said he had "made no decision as it relates to that."

President Donald Trump, however, was more forthcoming on the Tubman $20 bill, calling the redesign effort "pure political correctness" in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

While on the 2016 campaign trail, Trump said "Harriet Tubman is fantastic" but that he would "love to leave Andrew Jackson [on the $20 bill] and see if we maybe could come up with another denomination" for Tubman.

"Maybe we do the $2 bill or we do another bill... I think it would be more appropriate," he said.

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A recently-found photograph of Harriet Tubman that was acquired by the Smithsonian is displayed before a hearing of the House Administration Committee in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill June 17, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The Trump administration has said that plans to redesign the $20 note to celebrate Tubman's life and legacy have been delayed. Chip Somodevilla/Getty
Why Is The $20 Harriet Tubman Bill Being Delayed? Racism and 'Deep-Seated Misogyny,' Critics Say | U.S.