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Culture Appropriation or Plain Carelessness?

Culture Appropriation or Plain Carelessness?


8-year old black girls ask Trudeau the question that has followed him everywhere on the campaign trail

On September 19, 2019, a video surfaced of the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in blackface. Three images come out previously from the video 24 hours after the original news was broken by TIME Magazine. PM Justin Trudeau has said he cannot remember how often he wore blackface as a younger man, as the scandal deepened ahead of the election.

“I am weary of being definitive about this because of the recent pictures that came out, I had not remembered,” he told reporters in Winnipeg. On the English Federal Leader Debate stage, this Monday- Trudeau took hits from his political opponents on the disparity between Trudeau standing up for racial rights and appropriating the same culture. Trudeau seemed well enough prepared for all such questions but it still didn’t clear the fact that Trudeau simply does not understand the insensitivity of the nature of blackface.

In a segment on Jessi Cruickshank’s online show New Mom, Who Dis? posted on Tuesday, two young Black girls asked Trudeau, “Why did you paint your face brown?” “It was something I shouldn’t have done,” he said, noting that he’s spoken to his own kids about taking responsibility for one’s actions. “I’m sorry that I hurt you as well. I’m sorry that I hurt kids who facing teasing and discrimination because of the color of their skin,” Trudeau said. “I take responsibility for it,” he said. “It was a dumb thing to do. I’m disappointed in myself. I’m pissed off at myself for having done it. I wish I hadn’t done it but I did it. And I apologize for it.”He also noted that he tends to go over the top with costumes. “I’ve always—and you’ll know this—been more enthusiastic about costumes than is sometimes appropriate,” he said.

Why yes, we agree Mr. Trudeau. What exactly did he think it was? Did he think it was complimentary? Did he think that brown people would be flattered that he would paint his face and arms and legs the shade of the night sky in an attempt to “appreciate their culture?” Is that also what he was thinking on his trip to India last year, where he went so far as to wear a groom’s outfit? Trudeau has also been known to think it’s cool to say things like “I’m like 1/16 Malaysian.” Will this affect his results in the polling cycle? So far, it doesn’t seem so, but his opponents seem adamant to make this incident Trudeau’s Achilles Heel and stop him from running on for another term.