Harriet Tubman On The $20 Just Might Be The Most Elaborate Troll For White Tears Ever


The list of "things that tickle the fuck out of me" is a living and breathing one. Which is necessary because I occasionally find more things to tickle me. And, occasionally, things that tickled me before no longer do.


Included on this list are things such as my daughter's laugh, the last hour of Akeelah and the Bee (the single ticklingest movie ever), finding money in pockets and car dashboards, unexpected bacon, and Vimeo twerk compilations. (Conspicuously absent? Actually being tickled. Because tickling is torture.)

And after the news of Harriet Tubman's face replacing Andrew Jackson's on the 20 dollar bill, I had to make a new addition to this list. It's a scenario that'll take place several years from now.

A man will enter some type of establishment. A bar maybe. A bank perhaps. Maybe even a bookstore. In my scenario this man is in his mid-forties. And possesses a slight stubble. He's wearing chinos, a blue shirt, and brown shoes. He's not a particularly handsome man, but not particularly unhandsome either. Think Nicholas Cage. Not that he looks like Nicholas Cage. But he's on the Nicholas Cage handsome level. Anyway, a transaction will occur. Perhaps he will buy something. A latte. A bagel. A garden hose. Mints. Or maybe he will ask for change.

And then it will happen. He will be handed a 20. And this will be the first 20 he's physically held with Harriet Tubman's face on it. He knew this was going to happen. He remembers being dismayed by the news about it in 2016, and he also watched a couple recent news stories reminding people the Tubman twenties would be in circulation soon. But he just..forgot. He just didn't realize it would be so soon. So sudden. So present. And when that 20 touches his hand for the first time, he recoils in horror. And makes a face like he was handed a bag of wet cat poop. But it's a surreal horror, because although that 20 dollar bill has her damn fucking face on it, it's still $20. And $20 is still $20. So he grudgingly and painfully puts it in his wallet. Making sure to separate it from the other bills. Because his wallet will stay segregated. It's the least he can do. The only tiny victory he can muster. And, as he walks out — day ruined — he angrily gulps his latte. But he forgets the latte is hot and burns his throat. And he leaves the store yelping "Damn you, Harriet! Damn you to the Hell you came from!"

And then he finishes his shift at Office Max.

The thought of this happening — and yes, this is totally going to happen one day — tickles the fuck out of me. I'm beyond elated and past verklempt at the White Tears this has already brought and will continue to bring to the yard. It tickles me even more than the thought of the people upset when Barack Obama was elected president. Because while I was tickled by that happening, the tickling was accompanied by a dread of something bad happening to him. But no such dread here. Because you can't assassinate a 20 dollar bill.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



I can't believe I'm actually going to have to frame a 20 dollar bill. I can't believe it will have a picture of a woman once portrayed by Cicely Tyson on it. I can believe that I will one day put one such bill in the undergarments of a stripper.