[See Matzav’s earlier report here.] Assemblyman Dov Hikind this afternoon apologized for donning blackface at his blowout Purim party, after spending all morning defending his innocent getup.
He wore brown face paint, sunglasses, an Afro wig and an orange jersey.
“To anyone who was offended, I’m sorry,” Hikind said. “That was not the intention.”
The Brooklyn Democrat added: “If I had to do It all over again, I would certainly found something, another costume to wear.”
Earlier today, Hikind said his costume wasn’t wrong, saying he doesn’t have a “prejudiced bone” in his body.
“Yes, I wore a costume on Purim and hosted a party. Most of the people who attended also wore costumes,” Hikind wrote on his blog today.
“Everywhere that Purim was being celebrated, people wore costumes. It was Purim. People dress up.”
Assemblyman Karim Camara (D-Brooklyn), chairman of the state Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, said Hikind doesn’t grasp the historical implications of 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 apologizing, Hikind accused critics of taking racial sensitivity to outrageous lengths.
“This is political correctness to the absurd. There is not a prejudiced bone in my body.”
Hikind played the PC card for his own benefit, less than two weeks after calling out oddball fashion designer John Galliano and his chossid-like attire.
“Who is he mocking?” Hikind fumed at Galliano earlier this month. “If it was just anyone else, I wouldn’t know what to say. 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?”
Hikind, 62, earlier told the political news Web site Politicker that his Purim costume was meant in good fun.
“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.
“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.”
Hikind said earlier today that he can’t fathom how blackface – or at least his version of it – could be considered insensitive or in poor taste.
“I can’t imagine anyone getting offended,” said Hikind. “You know, anyone who knows anything about Purim knows that if you walk throughout the community, whether it’s Williamsburg, Boro Park, Flatbush, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens Hills, people get dressed up in, you name it, you know, in every kind of dress-up imaginable.”
“Purim, you know, everything goes and it’s all done with respect. No one is laughing, no one is mocking. No one walked in today and said, ‘Oh my God,’ ” he said earlier.
“It’s all just in good fun with respect always, whatever anyone does it’s done with tremendous amounts of respect and with dignity, of course.”
The Assemblyman’s wife was dressed as a devil and his son was a trippy, yin-yang-faced “angel.”