Sunday, October 20, 2019 | ePaper
Trudeau admits to racist 'brownface' makeup
The Washington Post :
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized Wednesday for wearing brownface and blackface after a yearbook picture surfaced showing him at an Arabian Nights-themed party in 2001, embroiling the politician in another scandal as he faces a tough battle for a second term.
The photograph, published Wednesday by Time and taken while Trudeau was a teacher at the private West Point Grey Academy in Vancouver, depicts the then-29 year-old smiling while wearing a feathered turban, his face darkened in a practice with racist roots.
"I attended an end-of-year gala where the theme was Arabian nights. I dressed up in an Aladdin costume and put makeup on," Trudeau said at a news conference Wednesday evening. "I shouldn't have done that. I should have known better, but I didn't, and I'm really sorry."
Trudeau also admitted to wearing blackface in high school while singing the song "Day-O" at a talent show.
The prime minister kicked off his reelection bid last week amid a political climate that has grown increasingly grim for the Liberal Party leader once considered an international darling. Trudeau faces a formidable challenge from Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, who blasted his opponent Wednesday night, calling the brownface photo "an act of open mockery and racism."
Speaking to reporters in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Scheer said he was "shocked" and "disappointed."
The Conservatives, who are in a dead heat with the Liberals, have accused Trudeau of being "not as advertised."
Trudeau, who said in his apology Wednesday that he has "worked all [his] life to try and create opportunities for people to fight against racism and intolerance," has positioned himself as a champion of diversity and inclusiveness. He earned international acclaim in 2015 when, as the new prime minister, he unveiled a diverse, gender-based cabinet - "a cabinet that looks like Canada," as he put it then. He has boasted about having more Sikhs in his cabinet than Prime Minister Narendra Modi does in India.