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.