Too "Asian-looking" for new $100 bill?

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ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299
Too "Asian-looking" for new $100 bill?

I'm proud to say I'm Canadian, except when I read stuff like this (okay, I'm always proud but this made me cringe):

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.
[h=3]Concern about stereotypes and 'racialized' bills[/h]"Some believe that it presents a stereotype of Asians excelling in technology and/or the sciences. Others feel that an Asian should not be the only ethnicity represented on the banknotes. Other ethnicities should also be shown."

A few even said the yellow-brown colour of the $100 banknote reinforced the perception the woman was Asian, and "racialized" the note. 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 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. Nor would he indicate what specific changes were made to the woman researcher's image to give her a so-called "neutral," non-ethnic look. He said the images were "composites" rather than depicting any specific individual. The Strategic Counsel conducted the October 2009 focus groups in Calgary, Toronto, Montreal and Fredericton, at a cost of $53,000.
The Toronto groups were positive about the image of an Asian woman because "it is seen to represent diversity or multiculturalism." In Quebec, however, "the inclusion of an Asian without representing any other ethnicities was seen to be contentious."
One person in Fredericton commented: "The person on it appears to be of Asian descent which doesn't rep(resent) Canada. It is fairly ugly."
[h=3]Decision a 'huge step back'[/h]Mu-Qing Huang, a Chinese-Canadian who has peered into microscopes for biology courses at the University of Toronto, called the bank's decision a "huge step back."

"The fact that an Asian woman's features were introduced to the bill ... I think itself is a huge step forward in achieving true multiculturalism in Canada," Huang, 24, said in an interview in Ottawa.

"But the fact that the proposal was rejected represents a huge step back."

She said the "overly sensitive" decision to remove the Asian features suggests prejudice against visible minorities persists in Canada.

"If Canada is truly multicultural and thinks that all cultural groups are equal, then any visible minority should be good enough to represent a country, including (someone with) Asian features."

Huang, now pursuing an MA at the University of Toronto, came to Canada from China with her family at age 12, living in Toronto and Ottawa.

The 2006 census found that Canada's population included more than five million people from visible minority groups, of which 1.2 million were Chinese and another 240,000 with ancestry from southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Laos. The Bank of Canada introduced the new series of banknotes largely to thwart counterfeiters, though they are also expected to last much longer than the old versions. New $50 notes went into circulation in March, with $20 notes still to come in November. The $50 and $20 banknotes feature a research icebreaker and the Canadian National Vimy Memorial respectively, with no images of ordinary Canadians. Some members of the focus groups said the Vimy memorial looked disturbingly like New York's twin towers, brought down by terrorists in 2001.

Asian-looking woman scientist's image altered on $100 bills - Canada - CBC News

Thoughts? Should currency only have 'neutral' character depictions? What do you think this says about ethnic diversity and racism? What about native Canadians/Americans? Should their 'visible minority' status eliminate them as a candidate for being memorialized on currency or anything else?

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
Posts: 3319

A "more neutral" looking person.....what does that mean. "more white"? What the heck is a neutral looking person. (and I'm not directing that at you for using the term, but at the article and the bank's choice)

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"KimPossible" wrote:

A "more neutral" looking person.....what does that mean. "more white"? What the heck is a neutral looking person. (and I'm not directing that at you for using the term, but at the article and the bank's choice)

This was my exact thought as well. There is no such thing as a person that is "ethnicity neutral" right? Caucasian is an ethnicity too, and the idea that "Caucasian" is considered "neutral" (aka the norm or default) speaks volumes. :rolleyes: It would be better to have people of all different walks of life on different bills than to just make them all white (I say this fully knowing that our money is not only all white, but all male, except for the Sacagawea dollar which no one wants because it's a pain to spend. LOL)

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

Makes me wonder what the response would've been if the woman looked native. Too 'Canadian'?

fuchsiasky's picture
Joined: 11/16/07
Posts: 955

Oh those focus groups!

Caucasian is not neutral. I would love to see the images on the bills reflect many different ethnicity as that is what we have in the country.

The focus groups have also make a fuss about the proposed image for the new $20 as it is of the Vimy memorial which has nudity. They said it is pornographic. It is a teeny tiny image of a woman on top of a WAR MEMORIAL!
Is Canada's new $20 bill too 'pornographic'? - Your Community

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

"fuchsiasky" wrote:

Oh those focus groups!

Caucasian is not neutral. I would love to see the images on the bills reflect many different ethnicity as that is what we have in the country.

The focus groups have also make a fuss about the proposed image for the new $20 as it is of the Vimy memorial which has nudity. They said it is pornographic. It is a teeny tiny image of a woman on top of a WAR MEMORIAL!
Is Canada's new $20 bill too 'pornographic'? - Your Community

I know, it's just so ridiculous. It's also been said by these focus groups that the Vimy memorial bill looks like the Twin Towers and all 9/11. Like, wha?

Here's some pics:

Bill:

Memorial:

Hard core porn:

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

A more "neutral" person? That is crazy.

I did wonder about the image of the woman... Not because she is asian, but because she has the insulin bottle beside her. I think the picture should be of Frederick Banting (the guy who invented insulin).

Oh and the pornographic-twin towers-Vimy memorial is just about the stupidest thing I've ever heard. What's wrong with people???

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

Looking at the $20 I can't even figure out which part is supposed to be pornographic. Which part are they objecting to???

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

Looking at the $20 I can't even figure out which part is supposed to be pornographic. Which part are they objecting to???

That 3rd pic is a close-up of one of 3 partially nude women that are part of the Vimy memorial. Like, you need to get a frikkin' life if you're looking at the bill with a magnifying glass trying to spot the pornography. Da Vinci can paint naked Madonnas and that's considered fine art, but put a teeny tiny microscopic naked woman (who is larger than life on the real memorial - don't hear people crying foul over that) on the back of a bill and 'OMG....FOR SHAME!!!!".

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

People are such goofballs. LOL

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4103

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I say this fully knowing that our money is not only all white, but all male, except for the Sacagawea dollar which no one wants because it's a pain to spend. LOL

I love them! We use them as tooth fairy money. Blum 3 And they're also very popular among Asians here at the Lunar New Year because they're gold-colored.

I'm inclined to agree somewhat with KrisW in that, if they're going to put a picture of someone, it should be a real someone. If the bill is supposed to recognize the medical advances that Canadians have made, they could just put a bunch of images of whatever those things are.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

"Spacers" wrote:

I'm inclined to agree somewhat with KrisW in that, if they're going to put a picture of someone, it should be a real someone. If the bill is supposed to recognize the medical advances that Canadians have made, they could just put a bunch of images of whatever those things are.

That's what I was thinking too. They don't have any famous scientists they could use a picture of instead of some random woman?

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

I disagree. The spirit of any country derives not just from their famous people, but as much and maybe more so from the "common folks" that you see on the street every day. I would be pleased as punch if we had money honoring farmers, police officers, teachers, et cetera, all the normal people that make up our country.

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I disagree. The spirit of any country derives not just from their famous people, but as much and maybe more so from the "common folks" that you see on the street every day. I would be pleased as punch if we had money honoring farmers, police officers, teachers, et cetera, all the normal people that make up our country.

True. It is the "common folks" that are the back bone of any country. If it was just "some lady looking in a microscope" it would be fine. I only think it should be Banting because the insulin is there.

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
Posts: 3319

Yeah we are just used to famous people because thats the common traditional thing to do. I don't think its necessary.

Joined: 03/14/09
Posts: 624

This really bothers me. Canada is still so whitewashed.

Also, I think that Asian women are still very sexualized in Canada. Asian women aren't just there to be the submissive partner in a relationship. We should be able to celebrate Asian women in professional roles, on our money or elsewhere. As the mother of a Canadian-Asian girl I am very worried about the messages she gets from Canadian media.