I am a 17-year-old Sudbury student from Lockerby Composite School. I’ve heard many criticisms and defences for Justin Trudeau and I believe I have analyzed the scandal to discern conclusion to the political discourse in the following letter.
To begin, while blackface has been associated in the past with a mockery of African Americans by entertainers such as William H West, who often donned the guise of a black man while behaving in subhuman behaviors, similar to that of a clown.
This perpetuated the idea that Africans were not biologically equivalent to Caucasians.
The theory of phrenology originated in the 19th century as a way for American scientists to claim that Africans had larger parts of the brain that had to do with submissiveness, harsh physical labour, loyalty and overall slave tendencies.
These theories were disproved sometime in the 20th century, but the concept of having larger amounts of melanin in your skin making you less of a person was still accepted by the general masses as the truth.
Politics, culture, society and entertainment adopted this idea, as well, treating black people as subhuman and using the guise of science to judge their prejudiced behavior.
When it comes to entertainment, black people were cast and animated to be “clowns” in visual media; a huge proprietor of this stereotype was the blackface. The makeup was used to perpetuate the idea that Africans were subhuman.
Logically, it can be assumed that the mere concept of blackface has a 100 per cent association with the concept that Africans are subhuman.
Flash forward several decades and African Americans have been completely integrated into society aside from the corrupt judicial system and the racial majority effect on black people. Most people have been born into a time where the original blackface concept was almost unheard of.
Facepaint was invented, which subverted the meaning of painting your face. At this point in time, it was more associated with Halloween, clowns and circus performers. This is what was going through the mind of Justin Trudeau, painting his face brown to better match the popular Aladdin character from the respective movie. It was released around this time and, as many teachers of young classes do, Justin Trudeau donned the Aladdin hat, cape and face to entertain his students.
From the look of the picture, one can assume that it did not harm anyone at the time. Everyone in the picture is incredibly positive and seemingly excited for the Halloween season. This is where we can properly analyze Trudeau’s thought process:
- Acquire a Halloween costume.
- Entertain students with wildly popular children’s characters.
- Dress up as that character with as much accuracy as possible.
You may notice that at no time in his thought process did he perform any action that fit the definition of racism, meaning: “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”
It can be assumed that if he had real prejudice, a thirst for discrimination or a deeply ingrained hatred for Middle Eastern people, he would not dress up as Aladdin, he would dress up as a white character.
This grows into the bigger discussion of the concept of subconscious racism. This is a concept created in the early 21st century to describe someone doing something racist without even thinking about it.
Many argue this is a paradoxical concept as true racism requires inner hate and the acknowledgment of hatred to perform racist acts.
However, since subconscious racism is a psychological concept that has not had much study to prove its legitimacy, it is mainly up to public opinion on whether Justin Trudeau is a racist or a naive teacher or a privileged and uncaring member of the white Canadian bourgeoisie.
It can only be determined by the critical thought of the overall consensus of the Canadian population.