Justin Trudeau is at the centre of a race row after a photo of him in brownface makeup at a costume party in 2001 came to light, prompting him to apologise.
The Canadian prime minister said it was a “dumb thing to do.”
Taken whilst he was a teacher at the West Point Get Academy at an Arabian Nights-themed party, the photograph was featured in the private school’s yearbook.
Time Magazine obtained the photograph, which shows a then-29-year-old Trudeau grinning with colleagues who were in fancy dress. Trudeau was the only one who appeared to have coloured his skin a dark brown.
Speaking to reporters, he said:
In 2001, when I was a teacher in Vancouver I attended an end-of-year gala where the theme was Arabian Nights and I dressed up in an Aladdin costume and put make-up on.
I shouldn’t have done that. I should’ve known better but I didn’t. And I’m really sorry.
I have made a number of calls to friends and colleagues tonight and I will have many more colleagues, many more calls to make.
I’m going to be asking Canadians to forgive me for what I did. I shouldn’t have done that. I take responsibility for it. It was a dumb thing to do.
I’m disappointed in myself. I’m p****d off at myself for having done that. I wish I hadn’t done it but I did it, and I apologise for it.
Brownface is a denomination of ‘blackface’ which is a form of theatrical makeup used primarily by none-black people to caricature black people.
It originates from minstrel shows in America in the 19th century where it was used to perpetuate dehumanising stereotypes of African Americans.
Leader of Canada’s opposition Conservative Party, Andrew Scheer said:
Like all Canadians I was extremely shocked and disappointed when I learned of Justin Trudeau’s actions this evening. Wearing brown face as an act of open mockery and racism.
It was just as racist in 2001 as it is in 2019. And what Canadians saw this evening is someone with a complete lack of judgement and integrity, and someone who is not fit to govern this country.
Others slammed the Canadian PM for being offensive to non-white students
Others don't think it's that serious
Trudeau is the latest in a line of politicians to be tripped up by their past.
Virginia governor Ralph Northam was allegedly in a racist medical school yearbook picture in which someone dressed in blackface and other in a KKK costume, Brooklyn Democrat Dov Hikind condemned criticism of him after he wore blackface and a wig as “political correctness to the absurd” and film culture has a history of white actors in blackface.