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Canadian PM Trudeau Apologizes for Appearing in Brownface in 2001 Photo

HeadlineSep 19, 2019

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized Wednesday after a photo emerged showing him in brownface. The 2001 photo, published by Time magazine, was taken from a Vancouver high school yearbook where Trudeau was then a teacher. It shows him wearing a costume turban, with his face and hands covered with dark makeup. Speaking to journalists Wednesday, Trudeau said he had dressed up as Aladdin as part of an Arabian Nights-themed school gala.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: “I take responsibility for my decision to do that. I shouldn’t have done it. I should have known better. It was something that I didn’t think was racist at the time, but now I recognize it was something racist to do, and I am deeply sorry.”

The photo’s publication comes just one week after Trudeau launched his re-election campaign; it drew condemnation from leaders of all of Canada’s political parties. This is Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party.

Jagmeet Singh: “Well, it’s troubling. I mean, it’s really — it’s insulting. Anytime we hear examples of brownface or blackfacing, it’s really — it’s making a mockery of someone for what they live and what their lived experiences are. I think he needs to answer for it. I think he’s got to answer the question why he did that.”

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