Justin Trudeau Admits to Wearing Blackface and Brownface

“It was racist,” the prime minister told reporters.
Photo via The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted to wearing blackface and brownface at a press conference Wednesday evening.

After TIME published a photo of Trudeau wearing dark makeup at an Arabian Nights-themed party in 2001, the Liberal leader admitted that he had worn blackface at a high school talent show.

The brownface photo was taken at an annual dinner for West Point Grey Academy, the private high school where Trudeau worked as a teacher, according to TIME. Trudeau appears to be wearing a puffy turban and white robe, with dark makeup on all of his visible skin, including his hands.


NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, who was at a speaking event when the story broke, said Trudeau needs to answer for it.

"It's making a mockery of someone for what they live and what their lived experiences are," Singh said, according to CBC. "I think he needs to answer the question why he did that and what does that say about what he thinks about people who, because of who they are, because of the colour of their skin, face challenges and barriers and obstacles in their life."

Trudeau told media he takes full responsibility and is deeply disappointed in himself. “I deeply regret that I did that, I should have known better, but I didn’t,” he said.

When asked if he had ever done something like that before, Trudeau admitted that he had performed the Harry Belafonte song “Day O” in blackface at a high school talent show.

“When I was in high school, I dressed up at a talent show and sang ‘Day O’… with makeup on,” Trudeau admitted to reporters.

"I have been more enthusiastic about costumes in the past than is appropriate."

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