ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A veteran New York Assemblyman on Monday stood by his decision to wear blackface makeup, an Afro wig and a basketball jersey to a costume party in the face of criticism he called “political correctness to the absurd.”
Democratic Assemblyman Dov Hikind wrote on his blog Monday that he doesn’t understand the criticism swirling around Albany and doesn’t know why anyone would be offended by the costume he wore to a party he recently held at his home in Brooklyn to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim.
Assemblyman Karim Camara of the state Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus called Hikind’s actions “callous and repugnant” and said his fellow lawmaker should apologize.
“The history of the blackface minstrel show is something deeply painful in the African-American community,” said Camera, a Brooklyn Democrat. “It brings back the memories of African-Americans being reduced to buffoonery just to gain access to the entertainment industry.”
Hikind hired a makeup artist and wore an orange basketball jersey, sunglasses and an Afro at the celebration that traditionally includes costumes.
“I am intrigued that anyone who understands Purim — or for that matter understands me — would have a problem with this,” said Hikind, a Jewish leader in New York. “This is political correctness to the absurd. There is not a prejudiced bone in my body.”
There was no immediate comment from the Assembly’s Democrat majority where Hikind has been long been a rare conservative voice over 30 years.
Earlier this month, Hikind criticized the fashion designer John Galliano, who was recently photographed in New York City dressing as a Hasid with a long jacket and curly sidelocks. Two years ago, Galliano was fired from Christian Dior after his anti-Semitic rant was caught on video.
Hikind demanded an explanation from Galliano for his costume.
“If it was just anyone else, I wouldn’t know what to say. But considering who this guy is, considering his background and what he’s said in the past, let him explain it to all of us: Are you mocking us?” Hikind told the New York Post.
In Albany, Hikind has championed some conservative and religion-based issues. In 2009, he opposed an early vote to legalize same-sex marriage
“It is about what I believe God wants,” Hikind said then. “God doesn’t flip-flop on an issue.”