(Via @ami_angelwings, via Roderick.)
This is from a recent report from CBC News:
The Bank of Canada purged the image of an Asian-looking woman from its new $100 banknotes after focus groups raised questions about her ethnicity.
The original image intended for the reverse of the plastic polymer banknotes, which began circulating last November, showed an Asian-looking woman scientist peering into a microscope.
The image, alongside a bottle of insulin, was meant to celebrate Canada’s medical innovations.
But eight focus groups consulted about the proposed images for the new $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 banknote series were especially critical of the choice of an Asian for the largest denomination.
Some have concerns that the researcher appears to be Asian, says a 2009 report commissioned by the bank from The Strategic Counsel, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.
The bank immediately ordered the image redrawn, imposing what a spokesman called a “neutral ethnicity” for the woman scientist who, now stripped of her
Asian features, appears on the circulating note. Her light features appear to be Caucasian.
The original image was not designed or intended to be a person of a particular ethnic origin, bank spokesman Jeremy Harrison said in an interview, citing policy that eschews depictions of ethnic groups on banknotes.
But obviously when we got into focus groups, there was some thought the image appeared to represent a particular ethnic group, so modifications were made.
Harrison declined to provide a copy of the original image, produced by a design team led by Jorge Peral of the Canadian Bank Note Co., which was a test design only and never made it into circulation.
Nor would he indicate what specific changes were made to the woman researcher’s image to give her a so-called
Because, you see, the way to give someone a
neutral ethnicity is to make them look White. You might think that that’s not so
neutral after all; you might even think that putting a white person on the bill does seem a bit like depicting a member of
a particular ethnic group. But you’ve got to remember that an ethnicity is a social marker, and white people aren’t socially marked out from the background. Because as far as the Bank of Canada and its focus groups are concerned, white people are the social background. An East Asian scientist is part of a particular ethnic group, but a white scientist is not, because white Canadians don’t have ethnicities. Only colorful people do.