OTTAWA — A celebration of Black History Month has forced Justin Trudeau to acknowledge once again his own past history of unconscious racism.
The prime minister was asked during a question-and-answer session at a reception celebrating Canada’s black community to account for the fact that he donned blackface and brownface multiple times in younger days.
Photos of Trudeau wearing makeup to darken his skin surfaced during last fall’s election campaign, rocking the Liberal campaign and forcing the leader to profusely and repeatedly apologize for behaviour he said he didn’t realize at the time was wrong.
Now, Trudeau says the photos compelled him to take “a hard look” at himself and how the “dumb choices” he made in the past hurt people who considered him to be an ally in the fight against anti-black racism.
He says it was a moment of “deep disappointment” in himself, but he says black leaders encouraged him to turn the mortifying disclosure into something positive for race relations in Canada.
He says the onus is on him now to show what his government is doing to combat racism and knock down barriers for black Canadians.