I want more women in my pocket

The pulled pork sandwich was delicious, the bun warm on fingertips rubbed safe-cracking sensitive by a good night of rock climbing. Then the best part of these nights: sitting around a table with a good group of friends. Now it was time to pay, and a multimedia presentation of plastic cards and paper bills fluttered onto the table.


Estonian kroon with a painter, a scientist, and a chess player

Estonian kroon

“Who is on your money?” asked the visiting German. And I couldn’t resist. Ever since I found Estonia’s money adorned by painters, scientists, and chess players*, I’ve been aware of our US proclivities.


“Our money has the presidents who killed the most people,” I had to point out.


Now, I’ll add here, as I did there, that I don’t blame George Washington or Ulysses Grant for their wars, and I certainly think Lincoln deserves his place in our wallets. Basically Jackson is the only one whose body count of systematic genocide of Native Peoples seems reprehensible. And sure, Wilson had more dead than Hamilton or Jefferson by a long shot but the point stands that our notion of greatness seems to be rather linked to killing people.


It’s Gladiator all over again. “Conjure magic for them and they’ll be distracted. Take away their freedom and still they’ll roar.” Makes terrifying sense and works every time. But are we forever to be that easy to manipulate? If so, what happens when ludicrous allegations of wiretapping are not enough to distract the People from a treasonous and criminal White House?


Venezuelan bolivares

My leftover money pile has Bulgarian writers, Turkish historians, and Venezuelan bolivares with a teacher, a woman, and a former slave.

At this point I have a now-familiar choice. Pessimistic depression, or dig into the stink to see if it’s fertilizer.


For the latter, I have a whole cadre of helpers. Harriet Tubman for one. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth. Lucretia Mott, Alice Paul, and Marian Anderson, not to mention Eleanor Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, Jr. All chosen to grace the $10 or $5 bills. And it matters.


Because if you’re like me, the first four and last two names were familiar, but the middle three? Mysteries. Cultures have to pick a finite number of heroes, but they have more than one demographic to pull from. And the US Treasury (at least under Obama) decided to expand the scope from white male presidents who oversaw widespread killing. To actively remember the great Americans who advanced the dignity and soul of this nation in their quests for equal rights and human dignity.


I can’t wait to buy something with a Lucretia Mott $10.


*Credit where credit is due, Estonia also had a female poet named Lydia Koidula on their second largest bill from when they were liberated from the Soviet Union in 1992 until they adopted the euro in 2011.