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article imageNY lawmaker Dov Hikind apologizes for Purim blackface costume

By JohnThomas Didymus     Feb 26, 2013 in Politics
A New York lawmaker Dov Hikind has apologized for wearing a blackface costume at a Purim party in his home. He said on Monday he was sorry if his costume offended anyone. He had dressed in an Afro wig and a basketball jersey and painted his face dark.
According to The Huffington Post, the Democratic Assemblyman wore a blackface basketball costume at a party in his home as part of celebration of the Jewish feast of Purim during which costumes are often worn.
He reportedly had his face painted brown by a professional make up artist for the weekend party and told The New York Times that he was supposed to be "a black basketball player."
According to the CNN, Hikind at first defended his action against criticism saying that complaints were "political correctness to the absurd." But later on Monday afternoon as criticism mounted he issued an apology. The CNN reports the Brooklyn Democrat said he was sorry if he had offended anyone. He said: "Anyone who was offended, I am sorry that they were offended." He told reporters at a news conference outside his Brooklyn home: "That was not the intention, and that is really all I can say. I just have to reiterate it was Purim. Purim is when people get dressed up."
He promised to be "a little more careful, a little more sensitive." He said: "I repeat, it was not meant to in any way hurt anyone. And those that were? I'm sorry. That was not my intention."
Fellow Brooklyn Democrat, Assemblyman Karim Camara of the state Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus, criticizing Hikind said the costume was "callous and repugnant." Camara told the CNN: "I don't think what he has said so far is sufficient. It is a beginning, but we need to have a dialogue with him."
Camara recalled the historical context of blackface, saying Hikind's costume "brings back the memories of African-Americans being reduced to buffoonery just to gain access to the entertainment industry."
The deputy national director of the Anti-Defamation League Kenneth Jacobson, told the CNN that Hikind "didn't take into account the history and context of what this is all
about."
Jacobson said: "That is the most disturbing part -- what he failed to think."
Shortly after Hikind's news conference, Speaker Sheldon Silver, leader of the Democrat-led Assembly, also said Hikind's action was "inappropriate and offensive."
The Hufffinton Post reports that ironically, earlier this month, Hikind had launched a scathing attack on the fashion designer John Galliano, who was photographed in New York City dressed up as a Hasid, with a long jacket and curly sidelocks.
Hikind had launched an attack on Galliano who was fired from Christian Dior following an "anti-Semitic rant" reportedly caught on video. Hikind, reacting to Galliano, reportedly told The New York Post: "Who is he mocking? The way the socks look, the jacket, the peyos... My question is, who's he laughing at? 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?"
Jacobson said that anyone would expect that someone who said those words would be aware of how his costume would be perceived by others.
Jacobson said: "Part about standing up for one group is to be more sensitive about other groups, especially as a public official."
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