Today, Canadians are more concerned than ever about voting for our next candidate, as well as wondering where our future is heading.
And there’s a lot to think about. Our country is big and diverse. We have people of all walks of life and all races, religions, and ethnicities. When deciding who we want to support as our leader, we have to take into consideration how pluralistic they will be (and have been) in life.
If you are wondering why I am even thinking about these things right now, considering we have other things to be talking about such as job placements for young graduates, climate change, or the rate of the dollar, it’s because of a recent incident that’s come to light.
When deciding who we want to support as our leader, we have to take into consideration how pluralistic they will be (and have been) in life.
In a scandalous discovery, our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, had pictures of him surface from his younger days wearing blackface! Yep, you read that right. He thought that painting his face black for a costume party (in fact, multiple parties throughout the years) was okay.
Time Magazine published a piece with two pictures of Trudeau covered in makeup darker than his skin tone. This can also be referred to as brownface and blackface. In one photo he is dressed up as Aladdin for an Arabian Nights themed gala, with his body painted in a darker skin tone. We call this contextual racism.
Justin Trudeau released a statement in flight apologizing for his mistake: “It was something that I didn’t think was racist at the time, but now I recognize, it was something racist to do.” In the same video Trudeau also admits to wearing blackface in high school.
People are upset, and rightfully so, because Brown and Black identities are not just costumes, or rather, a simple mistake that we can glance over. Trudeau is not new to the public life, as his father served the country before him.
Any way you look at it, Trudeau’s actions during his younger years are inexcusable and embarrassing.
Canada has been a leader in human and civil rights for marginalized communities, POC, and refugees. And many people are making the argument that Trudeau just made a mistake – a youthful indiscretion. Some are defending Trudeau, and using his achievements in supporting minorities to oppose other political candidates, like the Conservative Party of Canada’s leader, Andrew Scheer:
#Trudeau I would rather vote for a man that darkened his skin attending a costume party & has stood up, fought for & ensured minorities & refugees can call Canada home, then a man that has used brown people being allowed into our country to stroke fear, hatred & is homophobic
— GrumpyGrannie (@grumpy_grannie) September 19, 2019
Any way you look at it, Trudeau’s actions during his younger years are inexcusable and embarrassing. And discussions on social media are intense. While some are concerned that some in Canada will lose that feeling of acceptance, others are arguing that 2001 was a different time; Trudeau himself said that he was not aware of the implications of his actions. Let’s be clear – brownface in 2001 was as insulting then as it is now.
It's unbelievable how many brown people are saying they are not offended.
Way to go to seek acceptance, lost people.
It was offensive, regardless of if you're offended or not.
— Bola M Adẹ́kúnlé (@Bola_M_A) September 19, 2019
This is not just a Trudeau issue; this is an issue for people in Canada, and around the world. People are more likely to feel racial discrimination because their of their skin color. What can Canadians and the world do to raise awareness and help people understand why brownface/blackface is wrong?
Did this picture resurfaced because people think this act is finally unacceptable, or did it resurface for political sabotage in order to bring Trudeau down? Either way, the fate of Canada awaits. Until then, we should all know, brownface/blackface is more than just a mistake.