Why are we still explaining blackface in 2019?

After Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced criticism for his use of blackface, some are still rushing to defend his actions - and us black people are still expected to explain it all

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during commemorations for the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings at Southsea Common, Portsmouth. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 5, 2019. See PA story MEMORIAL DDay. Photo credit should read: Chris Jackson/PA Wire

WHO WOULD’VE imagined that in 2019 we would still be explaining the history, impact and implications of blackface?

Surely, the racist caricature has been poked and prodded for years with numerous think pieces and debates around why it’s offensive and why white people who use it should be called out for their actions.

But low and behold, a scandal is a scandal – and there’s no scandal like one painted in black and doomed to cause uproar and offence.

Justin Trudeau is the latest white person to have their blackface history exposed.

The Canadian Prime Minister, often known for his liberal approach and “wokeness” to issues regarding diversity across race, sexuality and more, is currently living a political nightmare after images of him in blackface on three separate occasions resurfaced a month before the Canadian elections.

What makes matters worse is that Mr. Trudeau can’t quite pinpoint how many times he “blacked up” in his youth.

In a statement made on Thursday (Sep 19), the shamed PM said: “What I did hurt them, hurt people who shouldn’t have to face intolerance and discrimination because of their identity. This is something I deeply, deeply regret.

“Darkening your face is always unacceptable because of the racist history of blackface. I should have understood that then, and I never should have done it.”

During his apology, Trudeau declined to say whether there were more instances of him wearing blackface, stating that his white privilege gave him a blind spot on the issue.

Blackface-gate is neverending, and therefore the endless pathetic explanations defending those who use such actions continue – and thus black people are consistently left to explain something that should really be understood.

Whilst I was listening to both LBC and BBC Radio London this morning, many callers shared their sentiments on blackface and why it shouldn’t be a matter of offence, with one caller labelling those who speak out against it as “snowflakes”.

The fact that criticising people who use blackface can be reduced to a mere instance of “political correctness” and “snowflake-like behaviour” is extremly telling of the times we’re in, but also reflective of the never-ending cycle of black people having to relieve and explain racism, discrimination, prejudice plus more to people who use the above reasons as an excuse.

Blackface is more than offensive, it’s straight up racist. Regardless of your intent – whether it was just to “dress up” as your favourite black celeb – your actions are still racist and no amount of excuses changes that.

The need for black people to be called upon to explain why it is is even more infuriating – after all, Google does exist.

But in all seriousness, the history of blackface is no hidden secret – and for those, like Trudeau, who are unaware because of their “white privilege” I’d encourage you to pick up a book or merely Google, and a plethora of information is there at your disposal.

I for one, will not be tasked with explaining the complex and hurtful history behind the racist trope in big 2019 like we don’t have access to the same resources – I’d encourage my fellow brothers and sisters to do the same.

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