"LARGEST BLACK OWNED BANK" On Thursday, #OneUnitedBank announced a new limited-edition #BlackHistoryMonth version of its Visa debit card. The card features a rendition of famed American abolitionist and Underground Railroad member #HarrietTubman with her arms folded across her chest, commissioned work by Miami-based artist #AddonisParker .
But when the bank announced the new card on Twitter, reactions were swift and critical. Some who commented on the design said they assumed the project had been led by a clueless white marketing team. Many interpreted Tubman’s crossed arms as the #WakandaForever salute from the Marvel film Black Panther. According to Parker, however, his portrait of Tubman was intended to convey the American Sign Language symbol for “love.” He told Adweek that he started the painting in 2016 (two years before Black Panther’s release) when the Obama administration’s Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that Harriet Tubman would be the new face on the $20 bill. That decision was delayed last year by Lew’s replacement Stephen Mnuchin, reportedly to avoid a potential effort by President Trump to revoke the addition of Tubman entirely. And for OneUnited Bank president Teri Williams, the controversy over the Tubman card is nothing new. As the largest Black-owned bank in the nation, OneUnited operates according to a different mission, according to its website: “empower our community and close the racial wealth gap.”
“When the decision was made to delay putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, we said we think that we have a role to play here because we can actually put her on a global payment instrument,” Williams told Adweek.
Williams hopes that by placing Tubman’s image on a debit card, it will help spur momentum to add the abolitionist to national currency. And she eschewed critics that may misunderstand the reasoning behind the card’s design. (Mediaweek)
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