Justin Trudeau on Blackface Scandal: Hopefully Minorities ‘Still Consider Me an Ally’

WINNIPEG, MB - SEPTEMBER 19: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses the media regarding photos and video that have surfaced in which he is wearing dark makeup on September 19, 2019 in Winnipeg, Canada. Three separate incidents came to light yesterday where Trudeau was wearing dark makeup as part of …
John Woods/Getty Images

Leftist Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a press conference on Thursday that he hopes minorities will still see him as “an ally,” despite recent revelations that he has worn “brownface” and “blackface” at least three times.

“Hopefully many of them still consider me an ally, even though this was a terrible mistake,” said Trudeau of minorities during a press conference to address a third image of him in black face paint surfacing in the last 24 hours.

The controversy began – just one week after the Canadian prime minister launched his reelection campaign – with a 2001 image showcasing a 29-year-old Trudeau wearing “brownface” while dressed in an “Aladdin” costume for an “Arabian Nights”-themed party at West Point Grey Academy, where he worked as a teacher.

The photo was published in the school’s 2001 yearbook and again published by Time on Wednesday.

Since then, at least two other instances involving Trudeau wearing similar make-up have been made public. In a second occasion, the prime minister can be seen wearing blackface while singing the Harry Belafonte hit “The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)” at Jean Brebeuf High School for what was reportedly a talent show in the early 1990s. Trudeau told reporters this image existed upon the publication of the Time article.

The third and latest revelation arrived in video format – published by Global News on Thursday – and shows the prime minister covered in what appears to be dark make-up as he waves, laughs, and sticks his tongue out at the camera.

“I have always acknowledged that I come from a place of privilege, but I now need to acknowledge that that comes with a massive blind-spot,” said Trudeau on Thursday. “I have dedicated my leadership and my service to Canada, try to and counter intolerance and racism everywhere I can.”

“But this has been a … personally … a moment where I’ve had to reflect on the fact that wanting to do good and wanting to do better simply isn’t good enough, and you need to take responsibility for mistakes that hurt people who thought I was an ally, who, hopefully, many of them still consider me an ally, even though this was a terrible mistake,” added Trudeau.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo and on Instagram.


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