Anti-Gay NY Lawmaker (Sort of) Apologizes for Wearing Blackface
A Democratic New York assemblyman, who has made anti-gay comments in the past, was thrown in the media spotlight this week for wearing blackface for Purim, a Jewish holiday that involves individuals dressing in costume (similar to Halloween), the Observer reports.
Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who is an Orthodox Jew, attempted to dress up as a 70s basketball star. The politician went the whole nine yards -- he wore an afro wig, sunglasses, an orange jersey and, yes, blackface.
"I was just, I think, I was trying to emulate, you know, maybe some of these basketball players," he told the publication. "Someone gave me a uniform, someone gave me the hair of the actual, you know, sort of a black basketball player. It was just a lot of fun. Everybody just had a very, very good time and every year I do something else. The fun for me is when people come in and don't recognize me."
The New York Post points out some lawmakers took issue with Hikind's outfit, like Karim Camara (D-Brooklyn), the chairman of New York Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, and criticized him for donning blackface.
"I am deeply shocked and outraged by the insensitive actions of Assemblyman Hikind," Camara said. "The history of the blackface minstrel show is something deeply painful in the African American community. It brings back the memories of African Americans being reduced to 'buffoonery' just to gain access to the entertainment industry. The stereotypes embodied in blackface minstrels have played a significant role in cementing and proliferating racist images."
Before Hikind, 62, apologized, he said that his critics were taking his costume too seriously.
"This is political correctness to the absurd. There is not a prejudiced bone in my body," he said. "I was just, I think, I was trying to emulate, you know, maybe some of these basketball players. Someone gave me a uniform, someone gave me the hair of the actual, you know, sort of a black basketball player," Hikind said.
But the politician finally did apologize for his controversial look.
"To anyone who was offended, I'm sorry," Hikind said. "That was not the intention. "If I had to do It all over again, I would certainly have found something, another costume to wear."
When Hikind took to his blog, he wrote that he doesn't have a "prejudice bone" in his body and, "Yes, I wore a costume on Purim and hosted a party. Most of the people who attended also wore costumes," Hikind wrote. "Everywhere that Purim was being celebrated, people wore costumes. It was Purim. People dress up."
Hikind may have forgotten about the anti-gay rhetoric he spewed in 2007, when he said that gay marriage would lead to incest. Three years later he tried to get gay Holocaust victims banned from a planned memorial and strongly opposed marriage equality efforts during the 2011 gay marriage debate in New York.
The New York Daily News points out Hikind spoke with radio show host Zev Brenner on Tuesday about the blackface and said, "If I was doing it all over again? I would look at, you know, additional alternatives. He added, "because my real objective is - it's not about being a black person or Indian. Maybe I would be a gay person-by the way, would that be okay, Zev? If I played a gay person next year?"