The Toronto Star has published a cringe-inducing article outlining the recall and redesign of newly minted Canadian $100 bills. The reason? Focus groups determined that the woman looking into a microscope on the bill appeared Asian. This a problem. Because people are racist blowholes.
When we got into focus groups…some thought the image appeared to represent a particular ethnic group, so modifications were made. ~Bank of Canada spokesman Jeremy Harrison
Here are the given reasons for why a woman sporting “Asian features” should not appear on national currency, according to Canadians:
1. “Some believe that it presents a stereotype of Asians excelling in technology and/or the sciences.”
2. “An Asian should not be the only ethnicity represented on the banknotes. Other ethnicities should also be shown.”
3. “Critical of the choice of an Asian for the largest denomination.”
The bank immediately ordered the image redrawn, imposing 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 Strategic Counsel conducted the October 2009 focus groups on behalf of the Bank of Canada in Calgary, Toronto, Montreal and Fredericton, at a cost of $53,000. Let’s hear what someone from Fredericton thought about the bank note:
“The person on it appears to be of Asian descent which doesn’t represent Canada. It is fairly ugly.”
Boom. Harrison has not specified what changes were made to the woman’s image, other than to state she was redesigned with “neutral,” non-ethnic look… the images were “composites” rather than depicting any specific individual.”
I am mortified beyond belief. Truly shocked. Clearly, I have overestimated my fellow (presumably Caucasian) citizens’ ability to recognize “whiteness” as an ethnic marker. I have overestimated their ability to engage with non-whiteness at any level.
Thanks Bank of Canada. Now, whenever I grasp a $100 bill in my tiny transparent hands (which is never), I will behold an institution that bowed to racist white privilege ideas on what constitutes “the Other” and what constitutes “factory settings”.