A photo obtained by Time Magazine has recently revealed that Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wore ‘brownface’ at a private school gala in 2001.

Since the photo surfaced just ahead of his re-election on October 21, Trudeau apologised and said he “deeply regretted” his actions and “should have known better”.

Now, what’s brownface?

 


Like blackface, brownface is a makeup which has come under fire for its underlying racial discrimination, as this makeup is used when someone wants to appear darker. The practice is associated with stage performances while white actors caricature African-Americans.

“What Canadians saw this evening is someone with a total lack of judgement and integrity and someone who is not fit to govern this country,” he said.

New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh, a Sikh, said the image was “troubling” and “insulting”.

“Any time we hear examples of brownface or blackface, it’s making a mockery of someone for what they live and what their lived experiences are,” Mr Singh told journalists on the campaign trail in Toronto.

The image was also criticised in a tweet by Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

 

Speaking to journalists after the Time article was published, Mr Trudeau said he had dressed up in the photo in an Aladdin costume at an Arabian Nights-themed gala.

“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 recognise it was something racist to do and I am deeply sorry,” he said.