OneUnited Bank, the largest black-owned bank in America, sparked outrage after unveiling a debit card with the painting of Harriet Tubman, the revered abolitionist.
The card, released as part of Black History Month, was shared on Twitter with the caption, “Our limited-edition Harriet Tubman Visa Debit Card is a symbol of Black empowerment. Don't miss out! #GetTheCardToday! #BlackHistoryMonth #BankBlack.”
The card, which features Tubman crossing her arms in what seems like the popular “Wakanda Forever” sign, drew immediate backlash from users who accused the bank of exploiting a historical figure for financial gain.
Tubman, born a slave in 1822, later escaped and undertook 13 missions, rescuing 70 slaves before the Civil War.
One person commented, “Harriet is the ultimate symbol of fearless organizing and rebellion against a sadistic capitalistic enterprise (slavery). Put Oprah on ya'll Visa card and go.”
“Y'all will commodify literally anything. Nothing is sacred,” another wrote.
“Every purchase gets you one step closer to freedom,” one user mocked.
Other critics highlighted the image on the card, stating that Tubman was doing the “Wakanda Forever” salute, which has become a widely popularized symbol of black power.
“DO YOU THINK HARRIET TUBMAN WAS WALKING AROUND SALUTING WAKANDA WHILE SHE WAS TAKING SLAVES TO FREEDOM?” one Twitter user asked.
However, Addonis Parker, the artist behind the painting, insisted that she wasn't inspired by Black Panther. She maintained that Tubman was actually signing the word “love.”
“She was about love. It took sacrifice and love for her to do everything she's done,” she told The Washington Post.
Some people have been calling for Tubman to be featured on the $20 bill, and Parker felt that putting Tubman’s face on a debit card actually made sense.
However, sports journalist Bomani Jones did not share the same sentiment, tweeting: “It's amazing how differently the idea of Harriet Tubman on US legal tender feels than putting her face on a debit card.”
OneUnited Bank defended the card, tweeting: “Harriet Tubman is the ultimate symbol of love - love that causes you to sacrifice everything, including your own life. The gesture is the sign language symbol for love. It's so important that we love ourselves.”