Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who represents the largely Orthodox Jewish district of Borough Park, donned a black-face costume for a marathon 14-hour Purim party held inside his home, according to a report by Politicker.
The outfit, which Hikind described as a “basketball player,” did not seem like a bad idea to the assemblyman.
“I can’t imagine anyone getting offended. You know, anyone who knows anything about Purim knows that if you walk throughout the community, whether it’s Williamsburg, Boro Park, Flatbush, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens Hills, people get dressed up in, you name it, you know, in every kind of dress-up imaginable,” Hikind told Politicker.
Black people commenting on the Politicker website were less that amused by Hikind’s choice of costume.
“He hardly even looks like a basketball player, and there are white basketball players, too,” said Guilienne Rollins-Rison. “What player do u know has an afro like that? If he was dressing up as a specific individual and decided to do blackface, that’s one thing (bad enough but still)… but generally… this is unacceptable. Also, it’s not, regardless of what he says, in the spirit of Purim.”
Commenter LS Bell added: “Some people will never get it…,” while Jervonne Singletary was even more succinct in her disapproval, commenting: “Really…”
Hikind’s colleagues are also weighing in on Hikind’s questionable party attire.
Councilman David Greenfield told Gothamist, “I disagree with him. He should’ve known better.”
Assemblyman Karim Camara, chairman of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, said he is “deeply shocked and outraged.”
“We, as leaders have to be extremely careful that we foster understanding amongst our different cultural groups and not use the images of one as a tool for humor. In speaking with many African Americans both leaders and average citizens, the outrage is widespread,” he told Politicker.
Hikind responded to the early round of criticism by claiming that it was “political correctness to the absurd.”
As more people learn about Hikind’s costume of choice, we’ll see if he still feels in a couple of days that “It’s all worth it, I would do it again in a minute.”