Caabu backs calls for an ethnic minority face on Britain's banknotes

Posted by on 17 Dec 2018

Caabu has backed calls for an ethnic minority face on Britain's banknotes. Caabu patron Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Caabu director Chris Doyle and Caabu's Parliamentary and Events Officer Joseph Willits were among over 220 singatories to a letter to the Sunday Times on 16 December 2018 calling on the Bank of England to better reflect modern Britain.

Caabu's Joseph Willits said:

"At Caabu, we’re very proud to put our names to this letter, and it is certainly about time that Britain’s institutions better reflect the diversity of our society – having an ethnic minority face on Britain’s banknotes is one part of this, not least because representation matters. In a survey that we carried out in September 2017, 55% of Brits believed that Arabs and Muslims should be racially profiled. This is incredibly worrying, and together with increased incitement against ethnic minority groups, hate crimes and Islamophobia, there is a constant message from some areas of our society that minority groups do not have a role to play in it. Worse still, that they're actively acting against it. 

Whilst there is still immense work to be done, this campaign sheds a light on many of the issues faced, and the feeling that many in our current and even more divided society feel ostracised, but it also celebrates the diversity of our country in all its forms. We should be celebrating it. This campaign goes far beyond our banknotes."

More about the campaign can be read here and a petition can be signed here.

Letter to the Editor: Britain’s banknotes need an ethnic minority face

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 and were effectively closed to them 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?

Public institutions should reflect modern Britain. Last year the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, spoke of the need for inclusiveness. We ask him to stand by those words and actively seek strong ethnic minority candidates to feature on the next reissue of any banknote.