Not for the first time this year, a politician has apologized for a racist photo discovered in an old yearbook.
This time it’s Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister who rose to social media fame due to his quirky sock choices, youth, and charm, but whose popularity has dimmed due to recent corruption charges and other past blunders coming to light.
As first reported by Time, Trudeau darkened his face with makeup for an Aladdin costume he wore to an “Arabian Nights” party at a ritzy private school he taught at in 2001, when he was 29.
A picture of his costume, which included a feathered turban and robe, is featured in the 2000-2001 yearbook of West Point Grey Academy.
After Time published the picture, Trudeau — who’s defined himself as a progressive politician who champions diversity — told the magazine: “I shouldn’t have done that. I should have known better and I didn’t. I’m really sorry.”
He told reporters on board his campaign plane (yes, he’s currently running for reelection): “I take responsibility for my decision to do that. I didn’t think it was racist at the time. I now realize it was racist.”
The leader of a rival political party in Canada responded to the admission with an empathetic tweet directed at those who’ve been ridiculed for the color of their skin or wearing turbans.
Tonight is not about the Prime Minister.
It’s about every young person mocked for the colour of their skin.
The child who had their turban ripped off their head.
And those reliving intense feelings of pain & hurt from past experiences of racism.
To you, I say you are loved.
— Jagmeet Singh (@theJagmeetSingh) September 19, 2019
Back in February, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam admitted he was in a photo from a 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook that shows a man in blackface and another dressed as a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Northam, a Democrat, wouldn’t say who he was in the photo, but apologized.
Last month, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, also apologized for appearing in blackface in 1967 while she attended Auburn University. She admitted to the wrongdoing after a campus radio interview about the skit resurfaced. Both were pressured to resign, but didn’t.
Trudeau’s other headaches right now include a corruption scandal involving a Canadian engineering firm he allegedly helped get off the hook after fraud and bribery accusations and a viral grilling from comedian Hasan Minhaj, who pushed him on his support of a controversial oil pipeline.