New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) has come under fire for wearing blackface at a Purim party hosted at his home over the weekend.
Hikind hired a makeup artist to paint his face and was sporting an orange baseball jersey, shades and an Afro wig during the party. He posed for pictures that later appeared on Facebook.
The backlash was immediate, with social media users blasting the long-tenured assemblyman. Though he apologized Monday, Hikind said the costume was “done in good taste” and that if he could, he would wear it again.
“The idea was to look out-of-character, to look different, for people not to recognize me,” Hikind told New York radio station 1010 WINS. “If I had to do it all over again, I’d do exactly the same thing, without a doubt.”
He continued to publicly defend the costume, claiming that it was in line with the practices of Purim. Purim is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the escape of the Jewish people from Persia. Celebrations often include feasts, parties, the exchange of gifts and dressing up in costume.
“Yes, I wore a costume on Purim and hosted a party. Most of the people who attended also wore costumes. Everywhere that Purim was being celebrated, people wore costumes. It was Purim. People dress up,” Hikind wrote on his blog.
“I am intrigued that anyone who understands Purim — or for that matter understands me — would have a problem with this. This is political correctness to the absurd. There is not a prejudiced bone in my body,” he added.
Fellow New York Assemblyman Karim Camara, who is a member of the state’s Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus condemned Hikind’s costume and called his continued defense “callous and repugnant.”
“The history of the blackface minstrel show is something deeply painful in the African-American community,” said Camera, another Brooklyn Democrat. “It brings back the memories of African-Americans being reduced to buffoonery just to gain access to the entertainment industry.”
Hikind maintains that his costume was not intended to offend, and offered his apology during a Monday press conference.
“It was not meant to hurt anyone,” Hikind said. “And to those who were? I’m sorry.”