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. (Published Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013)
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.
"I am sincerely sorry that I have hurt anyone. I apologize for the pain that I have caused anyone by this incident, and by any remarks that I have made in connection with it," Democratic Assemblyman Dov Hikind wrote in a blog post
. "It genuinely pains me that I have pained any human being. That’s not who I am, not who I want to be. I sincerely hope that this note will soothe any hurt feelings."
The blog didn't acknowledge the comments Hikind made on a radio show Monday night. On "Talkline with Zev Brenner," the assemblyman told the interviewer he was considering dressing as "an Indian" or a gay person to celebrate Purim next year.
"Maybe I would be a gay person on -- by the way, would that be OK, Zev? If I played a gay person next year?" asked Hikind.
Brenner responded, "I think whatever storm you had this year, you're going to find people that may be gay, but they won't be happy with your costume if you do that."
Hikind said, "So you think I'm in trouble if I do that? OK, so. I have to -- look, Indians will be upset, gays will be upset."
It was only after he was subject to widespread criticism, including from fellow Orthodox politicans and the Anti-Defamation League, that Hikind delivered the new apology Tuesday. Hikind had spent most of the previous day insisting anyone who was offended by his costume for the Purim party was taking "political correctness to the absurd." The costume was first reported by Politicker
Hikind told Politicker that he 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 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.
Published at 12:47 PM EST on Feb 26, 2013