Video surfaces of Canadian Prime Minister in blackface

The way I picture it, there’s a lot of kids all over the land watching this unfold on the news.

Every time they hear anybody arguing, "Blackface is actually no big deal, nobody cares if you do it, it’s a mistake anyone can make", all they have to do is look at the present day media firestorm to see all that profoundly disproved. They’re seeing a bunch of people that really really cares when someone does blackface, the more loudly and more often people shout, “Society doesn’t care about little things like this.”

I’m also pretty sure every conservative paper is running it as a top story based on how bad blackface is and how it proves Trudeau’s a racist, combined with an article that says it’s not anything actually racist, and that blackface doesn’t prove anyone’s a racist. Then some mumble about how hypocrisy is bad.


When they were younger the resemblance was considered quite uncanny and often remarked on, especially because of DS9 echoes in BG (i.e. the Bashirized Baltar) 2

But I think they kinda deracialized Siddig in Star Trek and in person it’s obvious he’s mixed-race, wheras Callis is standard English white dude.


On the DVD for the Doctor Who story, The Mutants:

There is a documentary about race on British TV (and specifically on Doctor Who, which has a mixed record - The Mutants being something of a highlight, with a black character and reference to working class accents to boots, and a strong criticism of empire). Of course they mention the Black and White Minstrel show, and how Brits of color viewed the show. For the Doctor Who stuff, it’s an interesting look at how well the show handled issues of race generally. It was only until the last Doctor that they had regularly recurring characters of color, and then it was with the movie (Yee Jee Tso) that they had a companion of color… and of course Mickey (who narrates the documentary). It’s a good overview of the issues, if you can get a hold of it.

The show itself is still racist…

And a black actor could not play that role back in the day because… they all were bad actors? The ONLY person who could play it was Olivier? How is that not racist?

I’m sorry, but are you arguing that it’s racist or not, because it seems like you’re trying to argue both sides of this issue.


For sure. Do you vote for someone with no chance of winning in your riding, the guy who did blackface, or the guy who didn’t but who actually doesn’t want brown people moving to our country unless they’re Christian?


I don’t know if that’s the case. As you say, he is mixed race (English and Sudanese). In the show, when Bashir’s parents show up the marriage seems mixed race, too? His father speaks with a strong working class accent, his mother a North African/Arab accent. Bashir speaks in a RP accent… probably the genetic alterations? But the actors who play his parents are both from the middle east - his father is played by an Israeli-English actor, his mother by an Egyptian-American, who is actually an anthrpologist at Qatar who just… somehow ended up on a Star Trek episode?

Here’s a clip… I don’t know what ethnicity the characters are supposed to be, other than of English extraction? I suppose in Roddenberry’s future, it’s not meant to matter…

[ETA] And speaking of confusing actors, when I saw the movie Syriana, which Alexander Siddig was in, I at first thought it was Nick Stahl and I was annoyed that they couldn’t find an Arab actor… then I realized later it was Siddig…:


How I confused the two I have no idea…


I think this is a great framing of how I feel about politics. I mean, it’s not on the same order as being personally abused, but I’m not really going to bear the brunt of a Conservative government if there is one. The thing is, when you are living with or working for an abusive person, and you can’t see any other way out for yourself, you do have to do things to minimize the abuse.

If there were people who were literally completely unaware of social constructs of race I would treat them completely different. There is a poster in this thread or the other who mentioned that their child with autism wanted to darken their skin to dress as a videogame character. A child of seven or eight and who struggles with social cues deserves an explanation, not scorn.

I don’t think “the problem” with my statement is that there are edge cases where it doesn’t fit. Feel free to stick a “mostly” in there, but that exceptions do not apply in this situation.

It’s probably because you humans all look alike.


I suppose they have similar faces, a bit?


I’ve realized that I’m actually mostly face-blind, or at least that the systems in my brain that are supposed to recognize people are terribly miswired. I could easily mistake them for one another in those photos, but I’ve gotten which kid is mine wrong a few times. I have a running joke with a friend that everyone is Leonard Nimoy. Once momentarily mistook a black Indian man with a white beard for a clean-shaven white man with black hair.


That was my point. If you intentionally copy the racist concept of the black minstrel you can’t claim you had no idea it was racist.

Olivier played it because he was a big Shakespeare actor at the time. According to wikipedia: “The first major screen production casting a black actor as Othello did not come until 1995, with Laurence Fishburne opposite Kenneth Branagh’s Iago.”

The problem was more deeply rooted in that there were few opportunities for black people to become stars in the first place. I’m sure you could find good black actors back then in minor theatres, but movies sell on name recognition.

There is still the question of why a black actor COULD NOT play the role.

Doesn’t make it and the society that produced that reality any less racist. That’s the whole point, it’s racist due to the blackface connection, and it’s racist because of who is being denied roles that are specifically characters of color. We’re STILL having these issues, where “big names sell” being used as the lazy excuse for not casting characters of color or LBGQT actors. Take Pose, a show about LBGQT lives - the entire case almost is made up of LBGQT people of color and it’s getting all sorts of awards and accolades because it’s a bang up show. They did it right, seeking out people who have historically been marginalized on screen and giving them roles that mirror their real lives.

Just because that’s how it was does not mean that we can’t understand that how it was was wrong.

We can’t ignore racism, because if we do, we only perpetuate it. It’s all well and good to say “we’re all the same” but when the LIVE REALITY of one group of people based on some aspect of their lives they have no control over, and that has been defined in a particular way by the power structure for centuries at this point, that has disempowered that group, and created a situation where they are by that second class citizens, just ignoring that is not going to work. You have to do ACTUAL WORK that acknowledges the past and actively changes the system that has kept things they way they are for a very long time. Just saying “race doesn’t matter” when it has mattered very much for a long time and continues to matter with regards to how power is distributed in society, only reinforces racist structures. We have to dismantle the racist structures if we want a future where race truly does not matter. Saying that individuals in power doing racist things is okay, because we should ignore race ONLY reinforces the racism that STILL exists in our society.

FFS, mass incarceration, police violence against black Americans, subtle forms of racism, the concentration camps on the border, the murder of black trans women… all of these are real things happening to real people, and they are related to racial structures in our society. If we don’t attend to the specific issues, we only sweep it under the rug. This is exactly what the Cubans did. Officially, racism is over, but if you go there and see what’s actually happening, it’s crystal clear that Afro-cubans are still second class citizens because of their skin color.


Or maybe we should do it the other way round? Instead of teaching innocent children about the importance of skin color and why it is wrong to pretend to be someone of another race, we should teach adults that skin color is just skin color with no deeper significance. We are all homo sapiens, and races are really a myth. Maybe it’s the kid who was right all along?

Exactly this. I think that one can conceive of situations in which an actor in a role might darken their skin (not like the awful pitch black Othello – I’m thinking Ben Kingsley in Ghandi) to look more convincing, but it’s a very very problematic slope. The history of blackface and general racial mockery and misrepresentation (which goes beyond blackface to include lots of other groups like First Nations people and East Asians in films and TV) mean that at this point in time it is a BAD CHOICE.

A person might have good intentions, but that doesn’t override the reality that this will be offensive to an awful lot of people.


The solution to racism is not pretending it isn’t there. Race is a myth, a foundational myth of the culture we live in. You aren’t explaining to the kid that race is important, you are explaining that blackface hurts people because you can’t just wish that fact away.


I consider it a classic of cringe-cinema. But yeah, at least it’s redeeming in the end. James Earl Jones wouldn’t be involved otherwise, I like to believe.


At least in the case of Kingsley, he was actually Indian…

Yep and the same was true in the 90s and 2000s!

I can’t agree more! it becomes really problematic when the person who has caused offense gets defensive and doubles down.



I’m not a particular fan of Trudeau, but he beats the alternative by a country mile. What’s sad and ironic about this fiasco and the condemnation he is receiving is he actually has the most diverse Cabinet in Canadian history, including more women than ever before. Under his leadership Canada welcomed over 25,000 Syrian refugees fleeing civil war in 2015/2016 for instance. Some of those people might be dead today if it weren’t for his government, as I can almost guarantee it wouldn’t have happened under the Conservatives.

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” Martin Luther King Jr.

“Don’t be in a hurry to condemn because he doesn’t do what you do or think as you think or as fast. There was a time when you didn’t know what you know today.” Malcolm X

Not just Indian, but Gujarati, which Gandhi was too. (That was probably coincidence rather than something factored into casting, though)


I just meant in the sense of Star Trek being a colorblind utopian future, with all the humans have the same clean-cut military apparance, contrasted against strongly racialized alien species. So any emphasis on starfleet character’s ethnicity tends to be subtext (Bashir’s name and parentage) or loopydoo Dune-like syncretism (French farm boy with a British accent)


You mean just like SBC always does, no matter what kind of character he’s playing?

Gee, thanks for that useful head’s up, ‘Captain.’

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Still prefer the limitations of our political options over the US… But seriously, it really depends on the demographics of your riding. Where I am the cons don’t have a prayer of winning, so I can vote Green and hope that the liberal candidate (who will certainly win here) may be influenced by the votes she did not get to nudge her party in that direction…

And I would not write off the Greens. They will probably get a few seats, and in a minority government that means that they can actually get stuff done.