Though I never really hopped on the That's So Raven train like everyone else, I always loved Raven-Symoné as Olivia in The Cosby Show. As a tiny tot, she was always full of sass and knowledge, and I took pleasure in watching her put the Huxtables in their places. However, these iconic characters are far from the woman who we see now. Since her Oprah: Where Are They Now interview in the fall of last year, Raven-Symoné has been saying some pretty offensive things about race and identity in this country. On Wednesday, while guest-hosting on The View, the ladies were sharing their opinions about women's faces being on the new $20 bill. According to polls, the current favorite is Harriet Tubman. Raven-Symoné doesn't want Harriet Tubman to be on the $20 bill, apparently, because she stated,
“No offense to everyone that’s going to be mad at me for saying this, I don’t like that idea. I think we need to move a little bit forward. Let me just preface that I understand the history, I get it Trust me, I was taught, I was in that culture. … I would’ve chosen Rosa Parks. I would have chosen someone that is closer to the progression that we’re doing now. I know you have to understand history so you don’t repeat it, but that doesn’t happen in our world, because we still repeat history of hating other cultures over and over again. I would choose a different woman, no offense.”
I’m not going to completely denounce Raven-Symoné for her opinion, because — for once — I partially agree with her. Tubman ran away from slavery, and went back to slave-holding states 13 times to help free more slaves. As Danielle C. Benton of The Roots points out, since slaves were used as currency during Tubman's time, it might be a little bizarre to put her face on a bill. Slavery, labor and oppression helped build America's economy, and Tubman's legacy was built because of her resistance to this very same economy. It would be problematic to put Tubman's face on the same money that helped to buy and sell the very people she so was intent on freeing — especially since it's the same currency that continues to help maintain social and economic inequalities today.
The wealth gap in this country is daunting, and many of those who are impoverished are minorities. The "Women on 20s" campaign is obviously hoping to spark some change, but the pay gap remains a very real issue — even among women as a cohesive group. While white women earn 78 cents to a man's dollar, black and Hispanic women earn 64 cents and 54 cents respectively. Putting Tubman on the $20 bill might be a step forward, but the historical connotations such an action could hold might just make it a better idea to have someone like Parks — who did not spend most of her life being bought and sold for money — on the bill instead.
And yet, instead of proposing any of these reasons, Raven-Symoné put her foot in her mouth by dismissing the abolitionist and her legacy altogether. Tubman was the only woman to lead in a raid for the Union Army during the Civil War, so to suggest that she is somehow removed from our present struggles is inexcusable.
The issue that I continue to have with Raven-Symoné is her arrogance, and her unwillingness to give sound and well thought out explanations for her opinions. Rosa Park and Harriet Tubman are both women are incredible historical figures who played their part in different eras of our history. The fact that Raven-Symoné tried to dismiss one for the other is a tragedy, even more so that she did so without properly backing up her opinions with sound reasoning. When she suggested we all "move a little bit forward," I got the feeling that she didn't want to talk about slavery at all. Despite what Raven-Symoné may think, we do not live in a colorblind society. Slavery and its repercussions directly correlate to what has been taking place across this country from Ferguson, Missouri to Baltimore, Maryland.
Though Raven-Symoné claims to understand our history, it's clear that she does not. Instead of discussing one of the many reasons why Tubman's face on the $20 bill might dishonor a woman who fought against the commodification of people, she reminded us all why we do not take her seriously.
Check out the video below.
Image: ABC; Getty Images (2)