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Hot take: Yeah, Justin Trudeau's blackface scandal is bad, but what does it say about Canada's systemic racism?

Justin Trudeau wore blackface on multiple occasions, but we need to stop focusing on that and take a closer look at what it says about Canada’s systemic racism. No, really. Just ask Joshua Sealy-Harrington, a J.S.D. candidate at Columbia Law School. In an opinion piece for Newsweek, Sealy Harrington argues that Trudeau’s history of blackface isn’t the real problem:

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Oh OK. Sure.

According to Sealy-Harrington, Canadians should have four responses to the scandal:

First, we should let this moment be an opportunity to reflect on Canadian racism.

Second, as should always be the case, our response to this scandal should be measured. I’ll be blunt: I care a lot more about the systemic forces that normalize the caricaturization of racial minorities than the discrete manifestations of that caricaturization. In other words, I care more about structural anti-racist policy, than individual (albeit repeated) racist practices.

Third, while I welcome everyone into the complex conversations needed to improve Canadian racial consciousness, we should recognize the character of this issue, and how that character informs the authorities relevant to its resolution.

Lastly, we should be realistic about how the Trudeau blackface scandal informs our electoral choices.

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Sealy-Harrington left out a fifth response: Holding people who do racist things accountable for doing those racist things, even when those people are Justin Trudeau.

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