Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been immersed in an ongoing blackface and brownface scandal this week, and The Daily Show host Trevor Noah lambasted him while making a suggestion to help other white people avoid the same fate.
Some fear Trudeau’s re-election campaign has been torpedoed by revelations that he had worn both brownface and blackface on at least three separate occasions as both a teenager and adult. During Thursday’s show, Noah noted, however, that the 47-year-old Liberal Party leader is really just the latest example of a growing “epidemic” of the racist behavior coming to light from celebrities and famous political figures.
Noah jokingly proposed red flag laws and perhaps even a buyback program to combat the allure of white people succumbing to the allure of slapping on “dangerous” brown make-up.
“When you look at Trudeau and all these new stories of blackface coming out every day, at some point, we have to admit that this problem is bigger than some people would like to believe,” Noah explained. “From the governor of Virginia to multiple TV stars and every frat party in town, it seems that when white people get their hands on brown makeup, they just cannot help themselves. So we need to treat this like the epidemic that it is.”
“I am proposing a buyback program to get blackface off the streets,” the comedian declared attempting to sound serious.
Then he continued, “I also think we need red flag laws — if you hear your white friend talking about buying an Afro wig for the school talent show, we need to stop it before it happens. And for those people who have a blackface photo who hasn’t come out yet, we need one day of amnesty where you can put it online without getting cancelled.
“But don’t use this as an excuse to make new blackface photos! I see you white people! Old photos only,” he said. “Last but not least, we need makeup companies to take responsibility for the products they sell. Clearly these things are dangerous. So from now on, all those makeup ads need to be a lot more like this.”
Images of Trudeau in makeup began to emerge this week, the first from 2001 showing him in brownface at an Arabian Nights party when he was a teacher. Two other photos would emerge, one in Blackface, dressed as Harry Belafonte and singing “Day-O” in the 1980s.
The third photo was reported by Global News TV in Canada showing Trudeau again in Blackface with his hands in the air and sticking out his tongue in the early 1990s.
“Far too many people in this country face intolerance and discrimination on a daily basis, and what I did was inexcusable and wrong, and hurt a lot of people who consider me to be an ally,” Trudeau said. “I am deeply deeply sorry.”
He says it does not represent the person or leader he has become. He says he never talked about it publicly because he’s embarrassed. He says he comes from a place of privilege. But he also said he’s wary of being definitive about how many times he’s worn brown or blackface because he didn’t recall the recent pictures that have surfaced.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.