After years of not seeing a racial minority in place as our Prime Minister, Canada is glad to announce that our Prime Minister is black… or does blackface.
A viral outpour of photos in which Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, wears dark paint to imitate Aladdin, and another two times to imitate a black man, sticking out his tongue and waving his arms in a joking matter, has caused a stream of backlash from citizens. His short-sightedness has resulted in constant negative feedback from the public, leaving many to question: should Justin Trudeau really be Prime Minister?
Many deem what happened as excusable because the costumes were mere shenanigans from Trudeau’s past; however, the history behind the offence of Blackface is considered difficult to ignore for many minorities. Black and brown face both have an extremely offensive history for people of colour from various ethnic traditions. Dressing up as a member of another culture was never seen as an act of honour, but instead, an act of pure mockery. What was considered a joke and source of entertainment for a white audience, is dehumanizing and degrading for people of colour. “By distorting the features and culture of African Americans — including their looks, language, dance, deportment and character — white Americans were able to codify whiteness across class and geopolitical lines as its antithesis,” it is stated in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture when explaining the insulting history of Blackface.
Trudeau managed to, despite being a young and educated man of privilege, who had a father as Prime Minister, and taught in a private school, dress up in dark face paint. It should be expected that Trudeau would be more politically aware of how deeply problematic his use of blackface was. The history and mistreatment of people of colour in Canada isn’t something that should be minimized for a costume by an elite. As seen with the campaign of NDP leader who is a Sikh man of Indian Canadian decent, Jagmeet Singh, racist Canadians from all parts have said harmful things and based their lack of respect for Singh on his “dark question” and religion. One man in Ontario told Singh that, because of his turban, he “didn’t look Canadian” and that he must take it off in order to pass as a Canadian citizen. This mistreatment goes beyond Singh’s experiences. It is expected that, as a respected teacher, that Trudeau knew exactly how profound the action was considered.
With the upcoming election, should Trudeau still be worth a vote? Not only has the discovery of his photos resulted in many questioning what is genuine or credible about him but, it has lead many to further question who they will be voting in the upcoming election. For instance, he invested in the Trans Mountain Pipeline that angered many Indigenous people as well as environmentalists across Canada; especially since, during the last campaign, he had never spoke on planning to do so. Singh also has called Trudeau out in response to a tweet in which he announced he’d be planting two billion trees saying, “Trees won’t hide the pipeline you bought.” This has led many to question Trudeau’s intentions if he gets re-elected.
Justin Trudeau may be a hero to some and an enemy to others. Before supporting any party before voting, it’s important to research each party and what they truly stand for. Are we living in an age that is too sensitive, or are we respecting the voices of minorities who feel insulted for an unforgiving past and by a thoughtless action, which as we know, speaks louder than words.
Photo credits to https://www.chch.com/another-instance-of-justin-trudeau-wearing-blackface-emerges/