Two Black Girls Confront Justin Trudeau About Brownface Photos

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked by two Black children why he decided to paint his face brown for a school party when he worked as a teacher.

The two girls questioned Trudeau during an episode of the Facebook Watch show “New Mom, Who Dis?” that was posted on Facebook on October 9.

"Why did you paint your face brown?" a girl standing with her twin sister asked Trudeau.

"It was something I shouldn't have done because it hurt people," he responded. "It's not something that you should do and that is something that I learned. I didn't know it back then but I know it now — and I'm sorry I hurt people."

“It was the wrong thing to do and I had a good conversation with my kids about taking responsibility for mistakes and making sure we are always sticking up for each other, and not teasing each other and being respectful towards each other,” he continued. “I’m sorry that I hurt you as well and I’m sorry that I hurt kids who face teasing and discrimination because of the color of their skin.”

“That’s just not right in this country or anywhere around the world. We all have to work together to make sure that doesn’t happen.“

Last month, Trudeau apologized after a photo of him wearing brownface makeup was published by Time magazine. In the photo, Trudeau, 29-years-old at the time, was wearing brownface, robes, and a turban during an “Arabian Nights” themed party at West Point Grey Academy, where he previously taught. The photo was published in the 2000-2001 yearbook from the private school, according to Time.

During his apology, Trudeau also acknowledged he wore blackface during a high school talent show while singing the Jamaican folk song “Day O.” In the photo obtained by TIME, it shows the prime minister wearing blackface and an Afro wig.

“I shouldn’t have done that. I should have known better and I didn’t. I’m really sorry,” the prime minister told reporters. He also noted he did not think of his actions as racist at the time, “but now we know better.”

A few hours after Time’s report was published, Canada’s Global News obtained a video of Trudeau wearing blackface while raising his hand in the air and laughing. The broadcaster noted that the video appeared to be a third instance of Trudeau in blackface. The photos and the video came just after a week after he announced he was running for reelection.

In September, Alabama Republican Governor Kay Ivey also apologized for wearing blackface during a skit while she attended Auburn University in the 1960s. A recording of a radio interview from 1967 surfaced the internet where Ivey, and her then-fiancé Ben LaRavia, talked about a skit she did during a Baptist Student Union party. In the interview, LaRavia said the skit did not require a lot of talent… but did require a lot of physical acting such as crawling around on the floor looking for cigar butts.”

“As I look at my fiancé across the room, I can see her that night,” LaRavia said. “She had on a pair of blue coveralls and she had put some black paint all over her face and we were acting out this skit called ‘Cigar Butts.'”

In her statement obtained by NPR, Ivey said she did not remember performing in the skit, but after listening to the interview, said it must be true.

“Even after listening to the tape, I sincerely do not recall either the skit, which evidently occurred at a Baptist Student Union party, or the interview itself, both which occurred 52 years ago. Even though Ben is the one on tape remembering the skit — and I still don’t recall ever dressing up in overalls or in blackface — I will not deny what is the obvious,” Ivey previously said in her statement. “As such, I fully acknowledge — with genuine remorse — my participation in a skit like that back when I was a senior in college.”

The Alabama governor did not talk about stepping down from her position but said she regrets participating in the skit.

“I offer my heartfelt apologies for my participation in something from 52 years ago that I find deeply regrettable. I will do all I can going forward to help show the nation that the Alabama of today is a far cry from the Alabama of the 1960s,” she said in a video statement obtained by AL.com.


About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.