NBC 4 New York
A state assemblyman from Brooklyn said Tuesday he recognizes now that wearing black face paint and an Afro wig was "deeply offensive to many," and is offering an apology while sidestepping new controversial comments he made on a radio show. Melissa Russo reports.
"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 tweeted Monday: "It's Purim! People dress up!" He then wrote in a blog post that he was surprised by the attention.
"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."
Later Hikind told reporters that he apologizes to "those who were offended."
Numerous elected officials said they were outraged about his behavior, and rejected his first apology as insincere.
Assemblyman Karim Camara, chair of the black, Latino and Asian caucus, said in a statement that the outrage over Hikind's costume on Monday was "widespread," and noted the "deeply painful" history of the blackface minstrel show.
"The stereotypes embodied in blackface minstrels have played a significant role in cementing and proliferating racist images, attitudes and perceptions, which are still painful and offensive today," he said.