Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized Wednesday night after a photo of him surfaced wearing “brownface” and a turban at a party in 2001 — but admitted it was not the first time he had donned skin-darkening makeup.
Trudeau offered the mea culpa soon after Time Magazine posted the photo of then 29-year-old Trudeau wearing the makeup at an “Arabian Nights” gala hosted by West Point Grey Academy in Vancouver where he was teaching at the time.
“I dressed up in an ‘Aladdin’ costume and put makeup on. I should have known better, but I didn’t and I’m really sorry,” Trudeau told reporters traveling with him on his campaign plane Wednesday.
“It was a dumb thing to do. I’m disappointed in myself. I’m pissed off at myself,” he added.
The snap shows Trudeau, now 47, wearing the dark makeup on his face, neck and even hands.
“I deeply regret that I did that,” said Trudeau, who recently launched his re-election campaign. “I take responsibility for my decision. It was something I didn’t think was racist at the time, but now I recognize it was racist.”
He then added that it wasn’t the first time he had donned skin-coloring makeup.
“When I was in high school I dressed up at a talent show and sang ‘Day-O’ with makeup on,” Trudeau told reporters, referring to a tune previously known as “The Banana Boat Song” and popularized by Harry Belafonte.
Trudeau is not the first politician to come under fire for wearing brownface or blackface.
In August, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey apologized for wearing blackface during a rush skit for her sorority in the 1960s.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam was asked to step down back in February after a photo from his 1984 yearbook page surfaced — showing a man in blackface next to someone in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe.
When questioned about the yearbook photo, Northam first admitted to being the person wearing blackface. But he later walked back that claim.
An independent probe into the yearbook photo “could not conclusively determine” that the governor wore blackface.
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