Canada may not be as progressive as its persistent stereotype has it: The Bank of Canada chose not to use "an Asian-looking woman" on new $100 bills after a focus group complained, replacing her with a woman who looks more white, The Canadian Press' Dean Beeby reports. Last year, the country debuted new plastic polymer banknotes that are supposed to "evoke the country’s spirit of innovation," according to the Bank of Canada website, and the $100 bill in question featured a woman peering into a microscope, which was supposed to celebrate Canada's contribution to medical science. But, according to Beeby, the eight focus groups consulted were not happy that she looked Asian.
“The person on it appears to be of Asian descent which doesn’t rep(resent) Canada. It is fairly ugly," said someone from Fredericton, New Brunswick in the study.
Others in the group said it played into the Asians in science stereotype, or didn't like that only Asians were being represented. Only the group in Toronto said they thought it was great, noting, "it is seen to represent diversity or multiculturalism."
The bank's solution? Make the woman more "neutral"—which basically means white. The bill currently in circulation can be seen above. If anything, the bank switched to a white woman not to be racist but to avoid this sort of controversy, because Canadians are too nice to be racist, right?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.