SURREY (NEWS 1130) — One of the men pictured in a photo with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in brownface says he didn’t find it offensive.
Sunny Khurana was at the “Arabian Nights” theme party at West Point Grey Academy in 2001, and was photographed arm-in-arm with Trudeau in brownface, a turban and white robes. Trudeau has since apologized, calling his past decisions to wear blackface and brownface racist and hurtful to racialized Canadians.
We have tracked down one of the individuals in this photo with Justin Trudeau dating back to 2001. Tune into @OMNIpunjabi tonight to hear what he has to say.@NEWS1130 @CityNewsVAN pic.twitter.com/QEeMNfdI4Z
— Amrit Gill (@AmritG) September 19, 2019
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Now Khurana tells OMNI Punjabi he personally didn’t see Trudeau’s dark face paint at the party as racist.
“He wasn’t trying to demean anybody who was a person of colour, and from what I can recall from that function, it never came across as that, not at all,” he says. “I mean I didn’t even think twice of it. It was a good party, we had fun, it was a theme party.
“It’s definitely not a racist act.”
Khurana is a business owner in Surrey. He says many who attended the gala were dressed in costumes bought at his business, and doesn’t recall people objecting to Trudeau’s Aladdin costume at the time.
Blackface — which relates to the term brownface — has been widely denounced as a racist practice that contributes to racial stereotypes. Khurana said while he wasn’t personally offended, he understands some people are hurt.
“If it was hurtful to anybody, he came out and apologized for it, which is good enough. It didn’t bother me, but it may have bothered somebody else,” he says, adding that Trudeau has apologized.
“‘If it bothers you, I’m sorry about it’ — good enough. That’s the most important thing, I think, as far as I’m concerned.”
VIDEO: Trudeau addresses black face controversy
When asked what he would say if other leaders were found to have been wearing brownface in the past, he says as long as they don’t have a history of racism, and if they aren’t intentionally trying to be hurtful, an apology is sufficient.
Federal party leaders have called the newly released photos ‘insulting,’ ‘shocking,’ and ‘troubling.’
– With files from OMNI Punjabi