Occasionally, you see an image that you know will never leave your mind. When you close your eyes to fall sleep, it will haunt you, waiting until your mind has started to drift towards slumber to reappear, taunting you with its absurdity.
That’s how I feel about the artwork on this Visa Debit Card from OneUnited Bank, which shows a frankly disrespectful illustration of abolitionist Harriet Tubman inexplicably doing Black Panther’s Wakanda Forever salute, for a final image that looks like some sort of #BlackExcellence fever dream.
(For those of you who may not know, OneUnited Bank is Black-owned. No, that doesn’t excuse any of this, but I’m just trying to provide you with all of the information necessary so you can pass your own judgement on this train wreck of a decision.)
For Black people across the United States, Black History Month is a time of celebration, where we honor our history, our culture, and our centuries of resistance. It is also a time where companies pull some truly wild and cringeworthy PR stunts all under the guise of “honoring Black people” (or in this case, “Black empowerment”). We’re only halfway into the month and Barnes and Noble Fifth Avenue already tried to give Frankenstein’s monster an afro.
Again, I ask: why?
Us Black folks only get one month to claim as ours and it’s already the shortest one of the entire year. All we want to do is continue to exist and celebrate in our own way while hopefully dealing with slightly less anti-Blackness than we encounter the other eleven months out of the year. Instead, we get this.
Next year we’d prefer reparations.