A Jewish Brooklyn Assemblyman is in hot water after donning blackface and an Afro wig at his Purim party yesterday, Politicker reports. Costumes are a traditional part of Purim, and Democrat Dov Hikind says he meant no harm: "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," he says, adding that he "can't imagine anyone getting offended." But a picture of him posted on Facebook went viral, and many are calling him out.
The costumes are all done "with respect" and are "all in good fun," Hikind explains, and are not meant to be "mocking." But his fellow Democratic assemblyman, Karim Camara, said he was "deeply shocked and outraged" by Hikind's "insensitive actions," the New York Post reports. Camara added that perhaps Hikind doesn't understand the "deeply painful" historical implications of blackface. Hikind responded to the controversy on his Blogspot page, writing, "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." Ironically, Hikind recently lambasted John Galliano for apparently dressing like a Hasidic Jew.