NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Veteran New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) apologized Monday afternoon to anyone who may have been offended by his decision to show up to a Purim party dressed as a basketball player, with blackface makeup and Afro wig.
“It was not meant to hurt anyone,” Hikind said at a Monday afternoon news conference, “And to those who were? I’m sorry.”
“I understand people’s sensitivities, even though, like. Hey, come on – Purim. You know what Purim is? It’s not a big deal,” Hikind said outside his Midwood home. “Nobody meant anything.”
Purim is a Jewish holiday that is often celebrated with costumes. Hikind hosted a big Purim party at his home and hired a makeup artist to transform him for the occasion. He wore an orange jersey and sunglasses.
“If I had to do it over again, then I would just say ‘let me find something else that’s very, very exciting,'” Hikind said. “Looking at it now, there are a lot of different choices. But when I made the choice, the choice was as innocent as anything in this world.”
Hikind said that his life’s work demonstrates that he is no racist.
The Anti-Defamation League released a statement condemning Hikind’s costume choice.
“Assemblyman Dov Hikind showed terrible judgment in attending a Purim party in blackface. If blacks got dressed up as Hasidim, it would be seen as equally inappropriate,” said the group’s national director, Abraham Foxman.
“Public displays of racism are offensive, particularly when the perpetrators are elected officials, who should be role models and have the public trust,” Foxman added.