PHOTOS: Trudeau Blackface Scandal Follows Years of ‘Enthusiasm’ for Ethnic Garb

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (C) pays his respects at the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar on February 21, 2018. Trudeau and his family are on a week-long official trip to India. / AFP PHOTO / NARINDER NANU (Photo credit should read NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)
NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to questions about newly uncovered images of himself in blackface by repeatedly stating he “should have known better” and admitting he has “been more enthusiastic about costumes than is sometimes appropriate.”

Trudeau has a long history of dressing in costumes that would have been criticized as “cultural appropriation” if worn by someone with different political credentials.

In a conversation with reporters after the first of three photos and videos of Trudeau wearing facepaint to mock people of different ethnicities was discovered, the prime minister responded to nearly every question by repeating some variation of, “I should have known better and I’m really sorry.”

For example, he responded to questions about why the photos were never disclosed to the Canadian public before, and if he would resign as American public figures are often expected to do, by repeating his stock apology: 

Reporter: Mr. Trudeau, what do you say to racialized Canadians who are likely going to be offended by seeing these photos and hearing what you did in high school?

Trudeau: I regret it deeply. I’m deeply sorry I did that. I should have known better, but I didn’t and I did that. I shouldn’t have done that.

Reporter: Why is this coming out now?

Trudeau: It’s something I shouldn’t have done many years ago and I recognize I shouldn’t have done it.

Reporter: Many in the United States when discovered of these sorts of things, they’re asked to resign. Have you given thoughts of resigning?

Trudeau: I take responsibility for my decision to do that. I shouldn’t have done it. Should have known better. It was something I didn’t think was racist at the time, but now I recognize it was something racist to do. And I’m deeply sorry.

The blackface and “brownface” pictures have been kept under wraps until now, but Trudeau has been criticized and mocked in the past for playing dress-up. For example, he frequently donned traditional robes while visiting India, and even in Canada when observing Indian holidays or attending cultural events:

Trudeau at a Sikh temple in India in 2018 (Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images)

Trudeau at a Sikh temple in India in 2018 (Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (C) pays his respects at the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar on February 21, 2018. Trudeau and his family are on a week-long official trip to India. / AFP PHOTO / NARINDER NANU (Photo credit should read NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

Another shot of Trudeau at the Sikh temple (Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images)

AFP

Trudeau tours India amid quips PM being given ‘cold shoulder’ (Getty Images)

Trudeau at Gandhi house in India

Trudeau and his family visit one of Gandhi’s residences during their 2018 India trip (Sam PanthankyAFP/Getty)

Trudeau dressed in robes to meet with Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan, who amusingly wore relaxed attire for the encounter:

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (R), his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau (L), daughter Ella-Grace (2R) and son Xavier James (3R) pose for a photograph with Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan in Mumbai on February 20, 2018. Trudeau and his family are visiting India on a week-long official trip. / AFP PHOTO / INDRANIL MUKHERJEE (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)

(INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)

Trudeau has worn Native American (or, to use the preferred Canadian term, First Nations) costumes:

Trudeau wears a traditional Tsuut’ina headdress (AP)

He dresses in Chinese robes for Lunar New Year:

… and in traditional Filipino shirts when visiting the Philippines:

Trudeau at 2015 APEC conference

Trudeau at the 2015 APEC conference in the Philippines (AP)

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