An American perspective on the Trudeau blackface scandal

In his own words, Trudeau “should have known better,” but the fact that he didn’t is somehow not his fault. Instead, it’s society’s fault. It’s your fault.

Celine Ryan Washington D.C.

Everybody I know knows that blackface is considered offensive and improper by the general public. It is not a secret and has not been up for discussion for quite some time. Why then does the Prime Minister of Canada say that at least as recently as 2001, he had a “blind spot” to the implications of blackface? Coming from a very prominent Canadian political family, how could that be?

If you ask Trudeau, it’s simple. It’s not his fault. It’s a result of “systemic” racism within Canada as a whole. So … actually it’s kind of your fault, if you think about it the way he does.

Historically speaking, the practice of “blackface” garnered its popularity from its use in American minstrel shows in the 20th century where it was used to portray a racist caricature of a black person. But today, the term has evolved and is generally accepted as meaning anytime that person darkens their skin in order to play a role. As such, this act has secured a position in modern polite society as one of the very few things people from all sides of the political spectrum can agree on. We all purport to agree that blackface, even as defined today, is racist, improper, and never acceptable.

Megyn Kelly was fired from NBC for simply daring to discuss the implications of blackface on her show, and attempting to address the distinction between “blackface” in the traditional sense of the word and changing one’s skin tone to impersonate a specific person like Diana Ross.

Kelly was just asking questions, but nevertheless, blackface is an untouchable topic that has for years been considered a closed case, to the point where one of America’s most moderate political commentators was effectively cancelled for discussing it on air. Here’s American news anchor on the mildly conservative Kelly’s apology:

So why then, if we all agree, do so many prominent political figures seem to have a past littered with incidents blackface? If the implications of blackface are so obvious that it is considered abhorrent to even attempt to discuss them, then why does the Prime Minister of Canada have an admitted history of repeatedly darkening his skin as part of various “costumes.” When you consider the fact that Trudeau is the modern-day king of institutionalized social justice activism, it makes even less sense.

Once forced to apologize, Trudeau pointed to his own “blind spot” that he claims he possesses because of his “layers of privilege.” Privilege, he says, that is based on his skin colour and advantages. It is this type of privilege that supposedly caused him to be ignorant of the implications of his actions. In fact, this “blind spot” is so large that he cannot even definitively say how many additional instances of him in blackface may be recorded on photo and video.

“I’m wary of being definitive about this because the recent pictures that came out I had not remembered. I think the question is how can you not remember that? The fact is I didn’t understand how hurtful it is,” said Trudeau.

As if shifting the blame to white people, in general, wasn’t enough, Trudeau also managed to blame his own country as a whole for his habitual costume indiscretion. When a reporter asked if he thought his blackface photos had damaged Canada’s reputation, Trudeau responded by saying that “we all need to recognize” that “even in an incredible country like Canada, there’s still a lot more work to do,” going on to detail the “discrimination and marginalization” that “racialized Canadians” face “every single day.”

These types of responses that shirk the blame onto “systemic racism” or society as a whole for one’s own actions are certainly insulting to the Canadian people, but more importantly, they shed light on a significant phenomenon involving the purveyors of leftist theories of “implicit bias” and their own participation in explicit racist actions.

Dressing up in blackface is an explicit action. In 2001, when the Aladdin photo was taken, mainstream society (especially people in Trudeau’s political sphere) had long understood that darkening one’s skin for a costume was generally considered offensive. Painting one’s entire body in dark paint is not even comparable to the implicit nature of the mythical “microaggression” or the passive nature of possessing inherited “white privilege.”

Before each of these images was taken, it can be assumed that Trudeau a) thought of the idea to paint is skin black, b) went to the store, selected and purchased makeup in order to paint his skin black, c) stood in front of a mirror and meticulously covered his skin in dark makeup, and d) decided to leave the house. On each of at least three separate occasions.

That pattern of behaviour is not a result of a “system,” or of “implicit” or “unconscious” proclivities. It’s a large set of repeated, deliberate, conscious actions. Perhaps Trudeau would like to believe that his tendencies stem from such abstract concepts that are out of his control. Perhaps a desire to offset his own guilt is in part what fuels his social-justice policies. But in implying that his own actions are simply a product of the nature his own country, Canada’s Prime Minister has thrown his own people under the bus. The everyday people of Canada who aren’t donning blackface don’t deserve this.

But that’s the beauty of the social justice “intersectional” worldview for people like Trudeau. In his own words, Trudeau “should have known better,” but the fact that he didn’t is somehow not his fault. Instead, it’s society’s fault. It’s your fault. It’s somehow the fault of every other Canadian person who wasn’t doused in black paint at an “Arabian Nights” themed party in 2001. Because they’ve collectively created a society that allowed him to do so. In fact, its further evidence that society’s systemic racism is running rampant and therefore that we need to subscribe to the radical policies he pushes. Here’s the very same Don Lemon with his reaction to the Liberal Prime Minister’s apology:

Turning the conversation toward “systemic” racism in the face of personal accounts of racism is cowardly, and in doing so Trudeau has managed to spin his own blackface scandal as further reason to support his hypocritically radical social justice agenda. In taking responsibility as a privileged white male, but not as an individual, Trudeau is attempting to make his own racially insensitive behavior into the case for his reelection.


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