By ANDREW COURT
- OneUnited Bank has been blasted after releasing a ‘limited edition Harriet Tubman Visa Debit card’
- The card features a painting of Tubman standing defiantly with her arms crossed
- Some critics ridiculed the bank claiming the pose is a rip-off of Black Panther’s ‘Wakanda Forever’ salute
- The financial institution – which is the largest black owned bank in the US – hit back claiming the picture shows Tubman saying the word ‘love’ in sign language
The largest black-owned bank in America has sparked outrage after they unveiled a debit card featuring a painting of the revered abolitionist Harriet Tubman.
OneUnited Bank released the card Thursday as part of Black History Month, and shared a Twitter post which read: ‘Our limited-edition Harriet Tubman Visa Debit Card is a symbol of Black empowerment. Don’t miss out! #GetTheCardToday! #BlackHistoryMonth #BankBlack’.
The card – which shows Tubman standing defiantly with her arms crossed – instantly drew the ire of Twitter users, who accused OneUnited of cynically exploiting a beloved historical figure for their own financial gain.
Tubman, who was born a slave in 1822 before she later escaped, is best known for undertaking 13 missions to rescue nearly 70 other enslaved people prior to the Civil War.
‘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,’ one Twitter user blasted in response to OneUnited’s new debit card.
‘Y’all will commodify literally anything. Nothing is sacred,’ another cried.
‘Every purchase gets you one step closer to freedom’ a separate user mocked.
Meanwhile, several other critics claimed the card appeared to show Tubman doing Black Panter’s ‘Wakanda Forever’ salute.
In the 2018 film adaptation of the Black Panther comic book series, several characters make the salute in an ode to their fictional African homeland of Wakanda.
In recent years, the symbol has been widely popularized to signify black power.
‘DO YOU THINK HARRIET TUBMAN WAS WALKING AROUND SALUTING WAKANDA WHILE SHE WAS TAKING SLAVES TO FREEDOM?’ one Twitter user mocked, re-tweeting the image of the debit card.
However, artist Addonis Parker who painted the picture of Tubman insists she wasn’t inspired by Black Panter.
Rather, she says her painting shows Tubman saying the word ‘love’ in sign language.
‘She was about love. It took sacrifice and love for her to do everything she’s done,’ Parker told The Washington Post on Friday.
There have been calls for Tubman to appear on the $20 bill, and Parker believed that the transition to putting the abolitionist’s face on a debit card felt like it made sense.
However, sports journalist Bomani Jones disagreed, stating on Twitter: ‘It’s amazing how differently the idea of Harriet Tubman on US legal tender feels than putting her face on a debit card’.
Meanwhile, OneUnited Bank is standing by the card – sharing another tweet which read: ‘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.’
Shortly after it was founded back in 1968 , OneUnited began to provide banking services to black people who were mostly shut out from other institutions.
It has branches in five different locations across the US, and reported assets $661.2 million in 2018.