He was performing 'Day-O,' the Afro-Jamaican chant made famous by Black civil rights activist Harry Belafonte.
Ouch, Justin Trudeau.
The headline you never want to read, an exclusive today from TIME: “Justin Trudeau wore brownface at 2001 ‘Arabian Nights’ party while he taught at a private school, Canada's Liberal Party admits.”
Hey, Canadians planning on wearing super racist costumes this Halloween? The man just gave you your excuse, word for word. Have at it.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday night, following TIME’s helluva photo scoop, Trudeau apologized: “I shouldn’t have done that. I should have known better and I didn’t. I’m really sorry.”
Asked by a reporter if he thought the photograph was racist, Trudeau said, “Yes it was. I didn’t consider it racist at the time, but now we know better.”
Trudeau admitted he wore the “makeup” in high school to sing “Day-O,” the Jamaican folk song made famous by civil rights activist and performer Harry Belafonte.
“I deeply regret that I did that,” Trudeau today said.
TIME got the scoop on the picture, and they published the picture, and you can view that here.
The photograph has not been previously reported. The picture was taken at an “Arabian Nights”-themed gala. It shows Trudeau, then the 29-year-old son of the late former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, wearing a turban and robes with his face, neck and hands completely darkened. The photograph appears in the 2000-2001 yearbook of West Point Grey Academy, a private day school where Trudeau was a teacher.
Earlier this month, TIME obtained a copy of the yearbook, The View, with the photograph of Trudeau in brownface from Vancouver businessman Michael Adamson, who was part of the West Point Grey Academy community. Adamson was not at the party, which was attended by school faculty, administrators and parents of students. He said that he first saw the photograph in July and felt it should be made public.
On Wednesday, Zita Astravas, the media relations lead of the Liberal Party of Canada, which Trudeau is the leader of, confirmed that the Prime Minister was in the photo. “It was a photo taken while he was teaching in Vancouver, at the school’s annual dinner which had a costume theme of ‘Arabian Nights.’ He attended with friends and colleagues dressed as a character from Aladdin,” said Astravas. Trudeau is planning on addressing the photograph to the media later this evening, according to the Astravas. The prime minister’s official director of communications did not return multiple calls.
I'll bet he didn't.
Read the whole disgraceful tale in TIME: “Justin Trudeau wore brownface at 2001 ‘Arabian Nights’ party while he taught at a private school, Canada's Liberal Party admits.