Why wearing blackface or brownface is considered 'reprehensible'
Dressing in blackface or brownface is a hurtful, racist and offensive act that mocks, dehumanizes and belittles other cultures while feeding into some of the worst stereotypes of people of colour, community leaders and experts say, reacting to the actions of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. Their comments follow revelations Trudeau wore brownface and a costume to an Arabian Nights-themed gala in 2001, and his admittance he wore blackface makeup while attending high school.
Canada ’ s Surprising History of Blackface . Scandalous images of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau don’t just tarnish his image—they also It is, unfortunately, not all that unusual for an American audience to learn that a politician dressed in blackface . Yet the case of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
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It is, unfortunately, not all that unusual for an American audience to learn that a politician dressed in blackface. Yet the case of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau manages to surprise.
For one thing, there’s Trudeau’s age. He is just 47, and one might expect an ambitious young man of his generation, and especially one whose father was prime minister, to be more politically savvy. Yet Trudeau was captured on film wearing face paint not once, not twice, but three times, including once on video—and that’s just what’s known so far., Trudeau wore brown makeup to an “Arabian nights” party at a private school where he taught in 2001. He also , and on another occasion, .
Why Trudeau’s ‘brownface’ photo is not shocking
By now, everyone has seen the image of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in “brownface” at a 2001 “Arabian Nights” party while he was a teacher at West Point Grey Academy, a private day school in Vancouver. Trudeau, who was 29-years-old at the time, is not only in brownface but he’s also wearing a turban and robe — to match the party’s theme. Brownface, a variation on blackface, is the racial caricaturing of “Brown” groups, such as Latin Americans, Indigenous people, and South Asians. Trudeau has a long history of dressing up in the traditional clothing of South Asians. We’ve all seen the pictures of him with wife and children in tow donning traditional Indian and/or Sikh attire.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau wore brownface and a turban to an Arabian Nights-themed gala in 2001, and admitted to wearing blackface makeup while attending
Canada — just like Trudeau — has an exceedingly good public relations machine that obscures its racist past and whitewashes its current injustices under Moreover, the prevalence of blackface — an outward expression of racial condescension and animosity, whether the wearer consciously believes it
“What I did hurt them, hurt people who shouldn’t have to face intolerance and discrimination because of their identity. This is something I deeply, deeply regret,” Trudeau said yesterday—but, astonishingly, also saidhow many times he had worn blackface.
As superficially surprising as the individual culprit is the location. While America’s history of racism is well known, Canada has often been portrayed—by residents of both countries—as a beacon of comparative progressivism, on race as well as a host of other issues. Trudeau himself has embraced and burnished this image, with high-profile apologies to indigenous peoples and, all a part of his courtship of favorable comparisons with President Donald Trump.
Trudeau says he cannot be 'definitive' that there are not more blackface photos
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized Thursday after three instances of him in blackface resurfaced in less than 24 hours, but left open the possibility that more footage could come to light. "I am wary of being definitive about this, because the recent pictures that came out, I had not remembered," Trudeau said, according to CNBC. Trudeau's comments come after a video resurfaced on Thursday that showed Trudeau in dark makeup, raising his hands in the air and making faces while wearing a white T-shirt and jeans ripped at the knees.
While doing PhD archival research on Canada ’ s black beauty culture at McGill University, and Canada ’ s history of blackface as a Banting Postdoctoral A couple years later, a similar blackface “homage” to Jamaica at the University of Montreal landed Canada on CNN. If then-McGill law student
Blackface has a long and troubling history in the US. So why are many unaware to the harm it causes? Tensions surrounding blackface stem from the fact that America remains unwilling to educate people about the history of blackface , according to Howard University professor Greg Carr.
But Canada has a surprisingly long and deep history with blackface. Rather than being seen as an exception to Canadian racial enlightenment, perhaps the images of Trudeau in blackface are better viewed as a microcosm of Canada’s little known past.
Over the past year, Americans have seen the governors of two states embroiled in scandals over past blackface use., the Democratic governor of Virginia, was revealed to have a blackface photo on his medical-school yearbook page in the early 1980s. (Northam initially apologized, then said he did not believe he was the person in the photo.) The state’s attorney general, the Democrat Mark Herring, also apologized for wearing blackface to a party around the same time. In August, Alabama Republican Governor Kay Ivey also for wearing blackface in college.
, controversies around the use of blackface on campus seem to spring up every year, a trend that begins around the turn of the 21st century. Something similar seems to have occurred in Canada. , Philip S. S. Howard, a professor at McGill University, argued that blackface was “experiencing renewed popularity in Canada,” pointing to a string of incidents over roughly the same period.
Roy Green: The question Justin Trudeau must be asked
Roy Green has one question for Justin Trudeau that is 'screaming for an answer.'"Prime Minister, was 2001 the last time you appeared in either blackface or brownface?"
Blackface ' s dehumanizing history . In the early years of Hollywood, embracing brownface or blackface was common. "For [Trudeau] not to recognize "Of course to brown up your face and to dress up as a fictional Arab is troubling and disconcerting," said Walcott, who specializes in studies of black culture.
Three instances of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wearing blackface or brownface - widely accepted as racist caricatures - have landed like a Prof Thompson says this incident is an opportunity to address "a knowledge gap" about Canada ' s own history . "There is something about our culture
Blackface, a practice that grew out of minstrel shows that caricatured people of African descent, can seem like a peculiarly American institution, but it has a long history in Canada as well—as does slavery. While Canada figures in the history of American slavery as a terminus on the Underground Railroad, enslaved Africans arrived in Canada in the early 17th century, not long after their first arrival in what is now the United States in 1619, and slavery wasn’t abolished in Canada until 1834.
Perhaps no figure illustrates the complicated connections between race, Canada, and the United States better than Calixa Lavallée. Born to a French Canadian family in Quebec, Lavallée moved to the United States in the 1850s and bounced back and forth between the two countries for years. He served as an officer in the Union Army during the Civil War; he also played in minstrel shows,, doing exaggerated impressions of African Americans. In 1880, he was commissioned to write a hymn that would become “O Canada,” the national anthem. (Later in life, he supported Quebec joining the United States. People are complicated.)
The ‘annoyances and insults’ of blackface in Canada—in 1841
From the very beginning in the 1840s, black citizens in Toronto fought to shut down performances by blackface clowns, and their efforts are well documentedIn the aftermath of news that Justin Trudeau repeatedly dressed up in blackface when he was a student and then, more shockingly, as a 29-year-old teacher, one of the blander bits of boilerplate response is that this might be a good time to learn some history.
Blackface is not new in Canada , with documented examples of the practice dating back to the 1840' s and continuing until present day. Paul Lawrie, associate professor of history at the University of Winnipeg, explained the historical differences between blackface and brownface.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada has cast himself as spokesman for the world’ s liberals. But a series of episodes challenges that view. Darkening your face , regardless of the context or the circumstances, is always unacceptable because of the racist history of blackface .
Minstrelsy took hold in Canada, just as it did in the United States, and just as in the United States, black people objected. As early as 1843, according to Cheryl Thompson, a scholar of communications at Ryerson University, black residents of Toronto petitioned the city government in vain to ban minstrel shows. Howard reports that “minstrelsy was very common throughout Canada into the 1970s,” long after minstrel showssocially taboo—not to say extinct—in the United States. (Bashir Mohamed a few examples of 20th-century shows in Canada.)
Some scholars and journaliststhat Canada whitewashes its history on race, from its mistreatment of indigenous peoples to slavery to later racism like these minstrel shows, adopting an image of moving past race that stands (supposedly) in contrast to its uncouth southern neighbor. “Canadian postracialism is characterized by its roots in a national claim to egalitarianism that is partly forged through an ostensible contrast to American racism,” Howard writes.
It’s not yet clear what political effect the Trudeau photos might have, with elections scheduled next month. Trudeau has carefully set himself up as an alternative to, both in rhetoric and practice. But, as the incident shows, the reluctance to tackle racism may not provide quite as much of a contrast between the United States and Canada as it appeared to.
Singh speaks with Trudeau about brownface, says he won’t be used to ‘exonerate’ Liberal leader .
"I didn't want to be used as a checklist of steps taken that to exonerate himself from the situation," said Singh.Singh made the comments in a sit-down interview with Global BC, ahead of announcing his "new deal for B.C.