Another day, another white person that most people liked being exposed for Blackface.
Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, was exposed for wearing Brown and Blackface on three separate occasions in the past.
As usual, he has issued the obligatory apology and talked about how he shoulda’ known better (cue Monica).
When I first heard about the story, I didn’t even bat an eye (or at least, I don’t think I did). I went on about my business. I mean, a white person doing some racist shit? At this point, it’s like your little cousin asking if you have games on your phone. That shit is gonna’ happen; probably more than once.
Trudeau, in a press conference on the matter said a lot but in part, he was reluctant when asked if what we’ve all seen were the only times he had donned brown or blackface. The Week reports that this was his answer:
“”I am wary of being definitive about this because the recent pictures that came out I had not remembered,” Trudeau said, adding that because he comes “from a place of privilege,” he has had a “massive blindspot.” These revelations come a week after Trudeau launched his re-election campaign. –Brendan Morrow”
When I started out, I was going to write about how I’m tired of Black folks, in particular, being shocked and appalled at white people being racist or doing and saying racist things. I mean, it’s been 400 years and we didn’t get over here because our good friend Connor invited us to visit and we loved it so much we decided to stay.
But that piece of Trudeau’s statement is what struck me. I want to talk about this “blind spot” that whites always claim to have when they get caught in racism.
I think it’s bullshit.
African-Americans especially are very expressive people who are strongly tied to tradition. A whole lot of what we do and know comes from learning from our foreparents. Even the things that we do and know intuitively come from this place that is inexplicably in us such that we just know what we know.
Though I don’t believe that white people are as spiritual, you’ll never be able to convince me that they don’t know the same history we know. They’ve had no problem perpetuating that same 1619 racism generation after generation. There’s a reason that 18-year-old Rebecca knows Blackface is wrong when she gets caught on Snapchat. They know using “the N-word” to refer to Black people is wrong at a very young age and that’s why the solemn affirmation of “I’m not racist” and “it was a mistake” starts flowing almost by rote when they are exposed. There’s a reason they still skip us in line at the deli counter, or refuse to move out of our path when we have the right-of-way, or interrupt us as if we don’t exist in public spaces….exactly like their ancestors did.
Just like Black people teach our kids about slavery and Jewish people teach their children about Hitler and the Holocaust, white people teach their progeny their legacy as well. Now, how they teach it is up for debate, but none of them can say that they have a “blind spot” or didn’t know better in reference to Blackface. To do so is intellectually dishonest.
I honestly believe that white people just don’t care. They’d rather ask for forgiveness because doing so is an easier game than confronting the grave underbelly of what Blackface signifies enough to punish oneself for even thinking that it might be okay to do.
I wish for once that when a white person is busted, instead of the typical “I’m not racist/I didn’t know better” script, they’d say, “I did that shit. I knew it was wrong but I did it anyway because I wanted to and thought it was funny. I have no excuse.”
If more white people were honest, I think that’d be a huge step forward for race relations.