, 09.18.2019 07:42 PM

My latest: this isn’t the face of a Prime Minister


I’ve been writing about, and researching – and opposing – racism for more than thirty years. And make no mistake: blackface isn’t funny.

It’s racist.

Ask Megyn Kelly. A year ago, the former Fox News star was filming a segment about Halloween costumes and “political correctness.” Someone asked whether it was acceptable for a white person to smear black makeup all over their face and pretend to be black.

Here’s what Kelly said: “But what is racist? Because you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween… Back when I was a kid that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character.”

There was a massive backlash. Kelly apologized. But her show was cancelled not long afterwards.

Just this year, Alabama’s governor, Kay Ivey, faced demands that she resign because audio of a skit emerged from when she was in college – even though the person in blackface was her then-fiance. Not her.

Ivey still apologized.

Also this year: upscale fashion brand Gucci fired its global head of diversity because he hadn’t stopped a “balaclava jumper” from going on sale. The jumper featured an image that resembled blackface.

In Canada, we’ve experienced blackface backlash, too. Theatre impresario Robert Lepage faced protests when one of his plays apparently contained scenes that recalled blackface. Some University of Montreal students wore blackface to “pay tribute” to champion runner Usain Bolt. The university was forced to apologize for that.

So why is blackface so controversial? Why is what Justin Trudeau has done so wrong?

Because blackface is literally about white people caricaturing black people. It recalls the era when blacks were referred to as “darkies” and “coons.” It was something popularized in minstrel shows to suggest that blacks were inferior to whites. That they were stupider. That they were deserving of derision and mockery.

David Leonard, a professor at Washington State University, and an expert on the manifestations of racism, says this: “It’s an assertion of power and control. It allows a society to routinely and historically imagine African Americans as not fully human. It serves to rationalize violence and segregation.”

Is Justin Trudeau racist?

Well, his appalling treatment of a proud indigenous woman, Jody Wilson-Raybould, didn’t exactly suggest Trudeau was nearly as tolerant as he regularly claims to be. When asked about Donald Trump’s suggestion that four Democratic politicians “go back” to the “crime infested places” they came from, Justin Trudeau refused to say Trump’s racist statements were in fact racist.

Said Trudeau: “Canadians and indeed people around the world know exactly what I think about those particular comments.”

Do we really?

After Canadians have looked at that shocking photo of the Liberal prime minister mocking and denigrating black people – after the embarrassment and shame he has now brought on Canada internationally – it’s hard to know exactly what Justin Trudeau was thinking. Or if he thinks at all.

At the end of this shocking revelation, we are left with one thought: this is not the face of a prime minister.

Like Megyn Kelly, Justin Trudeau’s little show needs to be cancelled, once and for all.

Warren Kinsella is a Sun columnist and author of five award-winning books on racism.


  1. Harry Belafonte says:

    I wish the debates had walk-up music. Scheer would have to go with “day o”.

    Just watch how the Libs will defend this as well. They don’t care about racism at all, they just see it as another weapon they can wield for power. JT is a sick entitled person, and I guarantee you once he’s out of office there will be a lot more stories like these that come out.

  2. Sherinan T. says:

    Black Lives Matter co-founder Yusra Khogali said it well:

    “When Justin Trudeau says that he is a liar, he is a hypocrite, he is a white supremacist terrorist!”

    We need a full-scale Cultural Revolution to cleanse the land of white supremacists.

  3. the real Sean says:

    Just resign already FFS. Let Freeland or Goodale or Morneau or Garneau or somebody competent try to cross the finish line without anymore of this shit. I’ll bet this isn’t the end of the skeletons to come out in this campaign, we are only getting started. Worst political leader in the history of Canada. LPC absolute shambles and a joke.

  4. Walter says:

    Trudeau’s big problem is that this is not a one-off incident. He already admitted that black-face is a two-off incident.
    But there is also the groping of Rose Knight.
    There is him telling indigenous chiefs that if they think they need community centres, they are wrong because the youths really need places to store their canoes. Completely stereotyping a race.
    There is Trudeau dressing in Indian garb – no skin colouring, but still cultural appropriation.
    There is Trudeau mixing up Japanese PM as Chinese – essentially saying all Asian look alike.

    Old and New examples
    Racist and Sexist and Misogynistic examples.
    Trudeau has them all.

  5. Robert White says:

    The first book I ever read was Black Like Me. Mocking black people with racist caricature has historically been a very real part of our racist ancestry & sociological existence in Canada.
    It gradually became antisocial but was once acceptable to the elite even of Toronto where I experienced racism towards black Torontonians when I was growing up.

    I was raised not to tolerate racism as you were, Warren. Unfortunately, it existed in the schools in Toronto in the 60s.
    Ottawa has had many racist incidents since I moved here in the 70s. We just got our first black City of Ottawa councillor about seven moths ago and we just got our first black Chief of Police a month ago too.

    Transitioning to a culture of tolerance for all ethnicities is a challenge to be sure when incidents keep cropping up when they should not be cropping up at all.


  6. Max says:

    Guy is born and raised as the son of the Prime Minister of the country. In the most ethnically diverse city in Canada. The best of schools. Most ethnically diverse city in Canada. Born with a Silver Shovel in his mouth. The Melting Pot of Canada. And he still gets it wrong. As a 27 year old adult A TEACHER! He is the Donald Trump Junior of Canada. Sharpen yer pencil Gerry Butts. Lipstick on a Pig time! So says a Cape Bretoner.

  7. Douglas W says:

    Who IS Justin Trudeau? What values does he really stand for? And how do we know we can believe anything he says?

  8. bryan fraser says:

    well said warren

  9. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    I particularly liked how Singh addressed this. His comments were a teachable moment for all Canadians. Scheer’s response was also appropriate.

    As for Trudeau’s apology, I found it to be genuine and contrite.

    Now it’s up to each Canadian to process this and reach their own judgment, like I have.

    • Vancouverois says:

      Are you kidding me?

      Trudeau kept cycling back to the same, obviously pre-rehearsed talking points. “I made a mistake in my youth… case-by-case basis… conversations… I am deeply sorry… I take full responsibility…” and not once did his expression change.

      Genuine? No. Contrite? No.

      He and his inner circle obviously think that as along as they stay on message, they can get out of this. There was nothing even remotely sincere about it; it was all messaging strategy.

      • Vancoverois,

        Was it a perfect apology? Absolutely not. Was it contrived? Probably. Let’s call it a first attempt where there is plenty of room for improvement.

        Only a blithering idiot in the PMO, or elsewhere, could possibly think that this is even remotely recoverable. Trudeau needs to weigh very seriously whether he should remain as party leader. Whether he stays, or goes, Canadians will definitely have their say next month.

        • Vancouverois says:

          When that question was asked at today’s press conference, he talked around it; but there was no doubt, he intends to keep leading the party through the election.

    • Douglas W says:

      Trudeau’s apology, “genuine and contrite”. Ronald, seriously?
      He’s “pissed off with himself”? Like, for how long has he been pissed off with himself. An hour? Two hours? Half a day?
      The last 18 years? Hardly.
      This guy is a total fake.
      Best thing for the party, right now, is for JT to resign. The worst thing: he stays on and marches everyone over the cliff.

      • Douglas,

        In life, I give people the benefit of the doubt when they attempt to make amends. Does that mean I swallow everything, hook, line and sinker? Nope. Like I said earlier, we have a civic obligation to perform and it’s for each of us to SHOW UP and exercise it. Raking Trudeau repeatedly over the coals is pointless. Trudeau needs to seriously look in the mirror and make the best decision he can in the interest of Canada and Canadians. I hope he’s up to it.

  10. bryan fraser says:

    Warren well said And written thanks for speaking up and your honesty, I know you have spoke on this subject for many years.
    warren why is it the msm is using the term brownface and not using blackface of which it is.
    and also i find it hard to believe in todays ways of data research that this pic has not been around for awhile and has been silenced by the msm in canada, how is it a US media finds this and produces it.
    I of course agree with what you have said about racism but its more he is the biggest liar i can remember in the liberal party, and we have seen some whoppers.
    thanks again for what you said, you nailed it.

    • They are saying brownface because he is supposed to be dressed up as a Middle Eastern person, although his makeup appears black.

      My question is, who was still taking black and white photos in 2001?

      • Marco says:

        Because yearbook photos back then were mostly printed in black and white. I’m sure a color one is out there somewhere buried in someone’s closet.

      • Pedant says:

        I graduated from highschool in 1999. Yearbook photos were black and white. I forgot if ALL the event photos were b/w, might have been a mix between b/w and colour.

  11. Lawrence Barry says:

    You know what folks – that’s our Prime Minister – like it or not. Let that sink in. He represents us on the world stage. Let’s get rid of that fuckng idiot. Enough.

  12. Peter says:

    As uncomfortable as I am with the modern penchant for digging out old tweets, Facebook posts and high school year books and then throwing the offender to a howling mob of the super-woke (I’m starting to see it as a millenial plot to clear out the Boomers), this is really over the top for a teacher in 2001. It’s hard to know whether blacks or women should be more offended. And we thought Kavanaugh was a sleazy party animal! But my question is how could anyone think he could rise to the top of political heights in the second decade of the 21st century without this coming back to haunt him. Did his brain trust know about it? Did they think he could just duck it and nobody would notice? When did he start feeling pissed off at himself, yesterday?

  13. Vancouverois says:

    I just watched Trudeau’s emergency press conference.

    He is amazingly shameless.

    I mean, I already knew he was shameless. But this… this is beyond anything I could have have imagined. He just keeps repeating the same obviously pre-rehearsed words: “I made a
    mistake in my youth… case-by-case basis… conversations… I am deeply sorry… I take full responsibility…”. No change in expression, no answer to questions that doesn’t cycle back to these same words.

    No change in expression. None.

    If he wins the election after this… what does it say about us as a country?

    • Vancouverois,

      Come on. His chances are practically zero as of now.

      • Vancouverois says:

        Are they?

        You would think so, but you’d also think that Liberals wouldn’t be out there shamelessly attempting classic DARVO techniques, either. You’d expect them to be genuinely embarrassed… and yet it seems that the vast majority are only making a token expression of disappointment or disapproval, and then going straight to the standard deflections and excuses.

        If they do even the token expression of disappointment or disapproval, that is. I’m seeing a truly shocking number of people angrily dismissing this as a “nothingburger” or right-wing plot. Just like they did for SNC-Lavalin.

        If a good number of people can be as utterly shameless as that, will this really have any effect? I guess we’ll see when the next poll comes out…

  14. Chris says:

    Kinsella on Twitter:
    “Dear @CBCNews: it’s blackface. You sound completely idiotic calling it something else. Ask the racialized journalists and editors who work for you, FFS. #elxn43 #cdnpoli

    Thank you, Warren. And thanks for “Web of Hate,” the first book I bought after moving to Alberta in the 1990s.

  15. Nick says:

    It is said that to establish a trend or pattern you need at least 3 points/events. How many do we have now? 10 raised to the 3rd power?

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