Social justice is one of the values which every government official must uphold and promote, especially in Canada. In order to embrace social justice, people need to be aware of various historical developments and the struggles of minorities. Yet, quite often, the lack of knowledge leads to inappropriate conduct on the part of politicians. The case of Justin Trudeau wearing brown and blackface demonstrates how the absence of historical awareness can cause many people to experience pain and suffering.
The act of wearing blackface is a practice which is offensive and insensitive towards the traumatic legacy of minorities in Canada. The quote of Dr. Cheryl Thompson about the roots and fruits of different phenomena in society explicates the behavior of Justin Trudeau. Essentially, Mr. Trudeau’s decision to wear blackface was possible only due to the fact that he did not know about the history of the practice. As Dr. Cheryl Thompson notes, the use of blackface was common among Canadian minstrels, white actors who painted their faces black to caricature minorities (MacLellan, 2016). By wearing a blackface, Mr. Trudeau re-inscribed the deplorable legacy of Canada and caused many people who were targets of racial harassment to experience trauma. Minstrel shows were not popular only in Canada since there also were many troupes in the United States, where the practice began. Wearing a blackface is not only offensive but also can be considered the ultimate act of cultural appropriation on the part of white people. Thus, Justin Trudeau, as a white male, had to moral right to engage in cultural appropriation, even without knowing about the minstrel legacy.
Justin Trudeau’s actions of wearing brown and blackface should be regarded as reprehensible and inappropriate since they are insensitive towards historical injustices. The practice of blackface wearing was a popular type of entertainment in Canada since it implied caricaturing black people. Moreover, the act of a white person wearing blackface can be considered cultural appropriation, which is unacceptable for all individuals, especially public officials such as Mr. Trudeau.
MacLellan, A. (2016). What is the history of blackface in Quebec? CBC.