Justin Trudeau wore brownface at a party in 2001 when he was a private school teacher

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/09/18/justin-trudeau-wore-brownface.html

He was performing ‘Day-O,’ the Afro-Jamaican chant made famous by Black civil rights activist Harry Belafonte.


Son of a…

So, the guy who absolutely should have known better something was racist, the guy whose best friends keep turning out to be racist (like constantly), the guy who is openly racist, and the guy you know isn’t going to win, because his party only made it past perennial third place when one of the major two collapsed, and who a lot of people don’t like – many for reasons that are racist.

The Canadian election, everybody!


That’s ridiculous. It was 2001—you knew better.

“Now we know better”? Don’t bring us into this. This is on you.

A little off-topic: I really hope that the Arabian Nights-themed gala included a gala within a gala within a gala ('cause if the gala didn’t even attempt to imitate [or, at the very least, celebrate] the book, then the whole affair was an exercise in offensive cultural caricature).


@xeni I think the article needs a clarification. There were two events separated by many years and the article makes it sound like one event.

I think this paragraph conflates an earlier event with the photo:

Trudeau admitted he wore the “makeup” in high school to sing “Day-O,” the Jamaican folk song made famous by civil rights activist and performer Harry Belafonte.

… this is actually describing another event from his time in high school.

The photograph is from years later, when he was the teacher at another high school.

Two ugly events, one singing Belafonte, then years later, dressing up as an “Arabian” prince like an idiot.


Trudeau has been pretty terrible towards First Nations people in Canada, so this doesn’t really surprise me.


I’m going to get pilloried for this, but I didn’t know that painting your face dark was a bad thing until recently. Like the last 20 years. (I’m old)

I knew that Minstrelsy was bad and we were taught that black face within that context was bad. But I didn’t realize that extended to dressing up as a person of color if you aren’t a person of color.

I remember seeing a video of a white woman dressed up as Guinan from Star Trek at a convention and she thought that she was honoring her favorite character. She was attacked and belittled and she didn’t understand why.


To: Governor Ralph Northam
Richmond, Virginia

From: PM Justin Trudeau
Ottawa, Canada

Re: HELP!!

Dear Gov:

Please send me the name of the PR firm who helped you disappear your blackface/KKK story.

Your friend,



Just watch m… actually, no, please stop looking at me now.

He’s quite handsy in that picture too, ain’t he?


Unfortunately, I think this will result in Scheer winning the election. The guy who shared the stage with white supremacists (Faith Goldy and others) and when he was called out about this, instead of saying something like he didn’t know who they were trying to distance himself from them, he dogged the question and took months before he would state that white supremacists didn’t belong in the Conservative party.


It does sound more genuine of an apology than actually racist people usually bother to make, though that could clearly be coached.


This is what terrifies me. The main difference between Scheer and Bernier is that Scheer still likes his dogwhistles.

Justin is a hot mess but Scheer… Scheer was who they put in because Harper wasn’t RW enough.


Yup. When my friend sent me the CBC article about this, one of my reactions was “The woman he’s touching in that photograph better be his girlfriend, otherwise it’s very :grimacing:”.


100% coached. That’s why he said “we” instead of “I”. That way other people who have been racist in the past and think they are no longer racist (like soooooo many Liberals in Canada) will empathize and forgive him.


Just privileged being privileged, oh and getting caught but no repercussions so whatev

what should happen?

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The song itself is a great workers anthem and can and should be sung by people of all backgrounds. Just not in blackface, brownface, or any other kind of racist makeup. Groucho glasses are suspect too, fwiw.


Agreed. It won’t suck as bad as the U.S. having president* Biff, but it’ll still be bad for Canada having a PM who plays footsie with white supremacists, Xtianists, and other assorted bigots. Maybe he’ll get a minority government, but that just means he’ll be allying with the Racist Guy’s party.

Canada’s Liberals can’t seem to escape screw-ups like this – again, not as bad as the DNC’s constant own-goals, but still bad.


From a US perspective it’s totally justified to see blackface as racism but not every culture/country has that history and interprets it that way.

Canada is culturally close enough that Trudeau should’ve known better though.