Time for 1st ever #BanknoteOfColour
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Since William Shakespeare appeared on the £20 note in 1970, our banknotes have featured figures from our past — those who, in the Bank of England’s words, “have shaped UK society through their thought innovation, leadership or values”.
Ethnic minority communities represent 14% of the British population. We do not lack candidates, and arguably their achievements were the greater for having been made at a time when many careers were effectively closed to them (whether through colonial rules, racism, or the legacy of slavery). However, no one from an ethnic minority has yet featured on a banknote.
Changing this would send a message that the contribution of ethnic minorities to Britain’s history, culture and economy is recognised and valued. What better representation of “global Britain” could there be?
Our public institutions should reflect modern Britain. Last year the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, spoke of the need for inclusiveness and five years ago, the Bank of England made diversity a central pillar of its first strategic plan. The Bank of England has just failed to translate such policies into visible banknote representation. We ask the governor to stand by his words and actively seek strong ethnic minority candidates to feature on the next reissue of any polymer note (i.e. £5, £10, £20 or future post science-£50).
The bank has the chance to correct this historic chasm. By simply printing a banknote, it could address something far more important, structural inequality. The Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010 requires due regard to the need of advancing equality of opportunity and fostering good relations. The National Banks from Canada and New Zealand are ahead of the Bank of England on banknote diversity and have made history with respect to ethnic minority representation with Viola Desmond on the $10 Canadian banknote (in circulation since November 2018) and Sir Apirana Ngata on the New Zealand $50 banknote (in circulation since 2000).
On 16 December, the Sunday Times published an online letter signed by 220 celebrities and those in public life including cross-party politicians (such as David Lammy MP, Stella Creasy MP, Caroline Lucas MP, Baroness Floella Benjamin, Tom Tugendhat MP and Baroness Warsi), grassroots campaigners, charity leaders from Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Barnardos, The Jo Cox Foundation and many more and actors, filmmakers, poets and writers such as David Oyelowo OBE who played Martin Luther King in ‘Selma’, Adrian Lister OBE, Meera Syal CBE, Sanjeev Baskar OBE, ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and ‘Captain Marvel’ star, Gemma Chan, Afua Hirsch, June Sarpong MBE and Benjamin Zephaniah.
- a full list of signatories can only be found here: https://drugstoreculture.com/there-should-be-an-ethnic-minority-figure-on-the-new-50-note/
Note: Our previous campaigns were:
o Mary Seacole, the Jamaican British war heroine who supported British troops as a nurse during the Crimean war and was voted by the public as the greatest Black Briton of all time in 2004;
o World War II heroines Noor Inayat Khan, Violette Szabo and Odette Hallowes, who were awarded the George Cross (and two posthumously). These brave women reflected the full diversity of British society, including a Muslim woman of Indian origin who was the first female radio operator to infiltrate enemy occupied France.
The image above has been created by Pen Mendonca who is a graphic facilitator.
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