Lifestyle & Belief

Dov Hikind, New York assemblyman, apologizes for wearing blackface to party


People dressed in blackface rode a float during the Zulu parade, a primarily African-American parade, during Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Feb. 8, 2005.


Mario Tama

Dov Hikind, a New York assemblyman, has apologized for wearing blackface to a party at his house after at first defending it, the Associated Press reported.

The Democratic lawmaker, who is Jewish, said his brown makeup, Afro wig and oversize basketball jersey were part of a “black basketball player” costume he put together for a party for the Jewish holiday of Purim, the New York Times reported. People often wear costumes to Purim celebrations.

Hikind’s colleagues and others were quick to criticize him after Hikind’s son posted a photograph of his father in costume on Facebook, the New York Times reported.

Assemblyman Karim Camara, the chairman of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, noted that blackface “has a very painful history to many people,” the New York Times reported. “A lot of black leaders and clergy — elected officials, everyday citizens — were very upset or offended, and had a lot of questions as to, from their point of view, how could someone be so insensitive,” he said.

Hikind defended himself in a post on his personal blog, Gothamist reported. "Yes, I wore a costume on Purim and hosted a party,” he wrote. “Most of the people who attended also wore costumes. Everywhere that Purim was being celebrated, people wore costumes. It was Purim. People dress up.”

"A lot of people just don’t realize, on Purim, in a sense, forgive me for saying this, you do crazy stuff,” he told the New York Times. “It’s not done, God forbid, to laugh, to mock, to hurt, to pain anyone.”

But later, at a press conference outside his Brooklyn home, he promised to be "a little more careful, a little more sensitive” in the future, the AP reported.

Earlier in February, Hikind had called out fashion designer John Galliano, who has been captured on video making anti-Semitic remarks, for appearing in New York City dressed in Hasidic garb, including a long jacket and long sidelocks, the AP reported.

"If it was just anyone else, I wouldn't know what to say,” Hikind told the New York Post at the time, according to the AP. “But considering who this guy is, considering his background and what he's said in the past, let him explain it to all of us: Are you mocking us?"

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