A Drama Teacher Should Know Blackface is Rooted in Racism

A photo posted online by TIme with the following caption "Justin Trudeau, now the prime minister of Canada, appears in dark makeup on his face, neck and hands at a 2001 "Arabian Nights"-themed party at the West Point Grey Academy, the private school where he taught."

I am an “old stock white Canadian” as Trudeau would cast me, yet wearing a black/brown face would never enter my mind. It is blatant racism.

Coming from a leader who is trained in theatrical arts it is flamboyant racism. Blackface is rooted in racism, steeped in centuries of racism and borne from the theatrical community.

Blackface began in the US after the civil war, with white performers playing characters that would demean and dehumanize African Americans.

The popularity peaked during the civil rights era in the United States to oppress demands for civil rights by recently emancipated slaves to trigger racial hostility. Because of blackface’s historic use to denigrate people of African descent, its continued use is still considered racist.

“It’s an assertion of power and control,” states David Leonard, a professor of comparative ethnic studies and American studies at Washington State University. “It allows a society to routinely and historically imagine African Americans as not fully human. It serves to rationalize violence and Jim Crow segregation.”

First blackface is thought to have been part of centuries-old European theatrical productions, Shakespeare’s Othello. The practice began in the US in the 18th century, with several characters over the years such as ‘Jump Jim Crow’ to ‘The Jazz Singer’, the “Mammy,” an overweight and loud mother figure; and “Zip Coon,” a flamboyant-dressed man who used sophisticated words incorrectly.

Performers did it to authenticate their whiteness, by becoming the other and to mock, asserting white superiority by dehumanizing those of color. The stereotypes were so powerful they became a recruiting tool for the Ku Klux Klan.

Blackface became weaponized as a form of white supremacist propaganda and is part of the toxic culture of racism.

Does Trudeau think Canadians should let this one fly by as well? He has been pictured in three different occasions wearing blackface. Trudeau is a trained theatrical teacher, and had no clue at the age of 30 that he wasn’t complicit in promoting white supremacy?

Sorry, this is not a mistake of a younger and foolish man. This is outright racism and the actions of a man who has no respect for people of color and the tragedies they have endured in life simply because of the color of their skin.

It is downright imploring. Trudeau has no business representing Canada who proudly has over 6 million people who identify themselves as a member of a visible minority group.

What more do Canadians need to kick this government to the curb, and send them packing in a sedan? A good way to immediately reduce our carbon footprint given the amount of jet travel Trudeau and his government uses.

Canadians must vote with their values on October 21.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here