Canada PM Justin Trudeau apologises for dressing up in brownface in 2001

Brenda Watkins
September 19, 2019

The photo appears in the 2000-2001 school yearbook and went unnoticed until a story was published by Time Magazine along with confirmation from Trudeau's campaign team that it was in fact him. "I shouldn't have done it", a grim-faced Trudeau said in comments carried live on Canadian television.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May slammed Trudeau over the photo, tweeting: "I am deeply shocked by the racism shown in the photograph of Justin Trudeau".

Trudeau has since apologized for the photo, saying he is "pissed at himself", and that it was racist, but he didn't know that at the time.

"It was something I should not have done".

"Now I recognise it was something racist to do", he said.

The 2015 victory of Trudeau, the telegenic son of a former prime minister elected on promises of progressive policies and "sunny ways", was an worldwide sensation. "It was a photo taken in 2001 while he was teaching in Vancouver, at the school's annual dinner which had a costume theme of 'Arabian Nights.' He attended with friends and colleagues dressed as a character from Aladdin". I shouldn't have done it.

He said: "To people who have grown up with racism, who grown up being told that they were less.don't make this give up on yourself".

Justin Trudeau began trending on Twitter Wednesday afternoon with tens of thousands of users reacting to a newly surfaced 2001 photo of the Canadian Prime Minister in brownface makeup. "And I am going to continue to stay focused on that and continue to work to fight intolerance and discrimination, even though obviously I made a mistake in the past".

One of the people Trudeau called Wednesday was Liberal candidate Omar Alghabra, who was born in Saudi Arabia to a Syrian family.

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"The wearing of blackface/brownface is reprehensible, and hearkens back to a history of racism, slavery, and an Orientalist mythology that is unacceptable", said executive director Mustafa Farooq, who later issued a statement thanking the prime minister for apologizing so quickly.

The prime minister who just launched his reelection campaign a week ago also admitted that there was another time he had worn makeup.

The younger Trudeau´s stint as a teacher belonged to a colorful past that also included working as a snowboard instructor, a bartender and a bouncer.

Since then, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has acknowledged wearing blackface in college, and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has publicly apologized for donning blackface during a college skit more than 50 years ago.

"It was a dumb thing to do", he said during an emergency news conference on board the Liberal campaign plane before taking off for Winnipeg.

The latest polls reflect this, showing Trudeau's Liberal's facing an increase in support for their main opposition, the Conservatives, led by Andrew Scheer.

There was absolutely no excuse for Justin Trudeau darkening his skin with makeup in 2001 as part of a costume.

And while we're talking about a pattern, I want to draw attention to his righthand in the blackface photo, which first appeared Wednesday in the online Canadian edition of TIME magazine.

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