NY politician apologizes for blackface costume

Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind said his "basketball player" costume, complete with brown face paint and Afro wig, "was not meant to in any way hurt anyone."

A New York state assemblyman apologized for wearing a "basketball player" costume that included brown face paint and an Afro wig.

At a news conference outside his Brooklyn home Monday, Dov Hikind, a Democrat who represents Brooklyn's District 48, pledged to be "a little more careful, a little more sensitive."

He added, "I repeat, it was not meant to in any way hurt anyone," according to the Associated Press. "And those that were? I'm sorry. That was not my intention."

Hikind hosted a Purim party Sunday at his home, Politicker reported. Costumes are a traditional part of Purim celebrations, and photos from the party show his wife dressed as the devil and his son with a black-and-white yin-yang symbol painted on his face.

Hikind's basketball player outfit included sunglasses and an orange jersey in addition to the Afro and face paint.

"I was trying to emulate, you know, maybe some of these basketball players," he told Politicker. "Someone gave me a uniform, someone gave me the hair of the actual, you know, sort of a black basketball player."

Asked if his costume might be seen as objectionable, Hikind said "everything goes" during Purim and "whatever anyone does, it's done with tremendous amounts of respect and with dignity."

He told Politicker, "I can't imagine anyone getting offended."

People got offended.

Assemblyman Karim Camara of the state Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus called Hikind's actions at the party "callous and repugnant," the AP reported.

"It brings back the memories of African-Americans being reduced to buffoonery just to gain access to the entertainment industry," said Camara, who is also a Brooklyn Democrat and a black leader in the New York state Legislature.

The powerful leader of the Democrat-led Assembly, Speaker Sheldon Silver, weighed in shortly after Hikind's news conference, calling Hikind's actions "inappropriate and offensive." No action against Hikind was announced.

Hikind initially told Politicker he had no regrets, except for the half hour he had to spend in the shower to get the brown paint off his face.

"I came out and I wiped my face and I still had stuff on my face. It's going to take me a while," he said. "But it's all worth it, I would do it again in a minute."


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