Will Cancel Culture Ruin Justin Trudeau? Canadian PM Faces Backlash for Wearing Blackface

Published September 19th, 2019 - 11:21 GMT
West Point Grey Academy 2001 Yearbook
West Point Grey Academy 2001 Yearbook

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wore blackface makeup to a party at West Point Grey Academy, a private school where Trudeau taught in 2001.

The picture was taken at an “Arabian Nights” themed gala. It shows Trudeau, who was 29 years old at the time, wearing a turban and robes with his face, neck and hands completely darkened. The photograph went viral after Time magazine obtained a copy of the yearbook and shared it to the public earlier this month.

Unfortunately, Trudeau is not the only public figure who darkened his skin in the past for a costume. The United States has a long and painful history of white performers darkening their faces to demean and dehumanise African-Americans—a practice made popular by minstrel shows in the 19th century. The blackface continued into the 20th century in Broadway shows and Hollywood movies. 

After facing a huge backlash for the scandal, Trudeau apologised: “I shouldn’t have done that. I should have known better and I didn’t. I’m really sorry.” When asked if he thought the photograph was racist, he said, “Yes it was. I didn’t consider it racist at the time, but now we know better.”

Despite the backlash, Trudaeu is getting a lot of support from people who argue that ‘cancel-culture’ is getting too far ruining people’s careers over past mistakes.

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