Dov Hikind‘s apology for donning blackface at a party in his Brooklyn home is falling on deaf ears, as Black leaders intensify their criticism of the assemblyman, the Gothamist reports.
Led by Assemblywoman Inez Barron, a group of African American leaders and other public officials gathered in from of City Hall in New York City Tuesday to lambaste Hikind. Barron began her attack on Hikind by criticizing his vocal support of racial profiling.
“Dov Hikind’s latest antic is another reveal of who Dov Hikind really is,” Barron said. “His assertion that he did not know that appearing in blackface is offensive to black people is incredulous… Mr. Hikind, your egregious behavior is shameful, degrading, unacceptable and unworthy of a leadership position.”
Barron’s husband, City Councilman Charles Barron, went as far as saying that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Speaker Sheldon Silver should remove Hikind from his position as Assistant Majority Leader. “His inability to repent, to generally repent and ‘get it,’ is another problem,” Barron said. “The governor needs to say something, and we need to go beyond condemnation verbally.”
Even Mayor Michael Bloomberg sided with Barron when the City Councilman asked him to comment on Hikind. “This time, we agree,” he responded.
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Conrad Tillard, a minister at the Nazarene Congregational Church of Christ in Bedford-Stuyvesant, said that Hikind’s actions were inexcusable.
“The NAACP…fought against ‘blackface’ in the ’20s and ’30s,” he said. “For an elected public official to feel comfortable not only dressing in blackface but defending his actions is an outrage that says to me that the dignity of African-American people is under attack. As a clergyperson, I am here to say that we will defend our dignity. We will not allow public officials, corporations or anyone else to demean or deprive us of the dignity that we deserve.”
At first, Hikind was very dismissive of the outcry directed at him over his decision to wear blackface, a form of theatrical makeup that has a well-documented history of mocking African Americans during minstrel shows for more than 100 years. On Monday, he took to his blog to post his initial response to the outcry:
Hikind said he wore the makeup during a party in which he and other attendees celebrated the Jewish holiday Purim.
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In an interview with the New York Times, Hikind said he was shocked that people would be so offended by the costume.
“My wife, you saw the picture, she was the devil,” Mr. Hikind said. “Believe me, she’s not the devil.”
“A lot of people just don’t realize, on Purim, in a sense, forgive me for saying this, you do crazy stuff,” he added. “It’s not done, God forbid, to laugh, to mock, to hurt, to pain anyone.”
Though, when you read the definition of Purim, it says nothing about offending people and doing “crazy stuff.” According to Judaism 101, “Purim is one of the most joyous and fun holidays on the Jewish calendar. It commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination.”
Moreover, the spirit of the holiday, as it is explained above, falls oddly out of step with comments he made to the AP regarding racial profiling–especially when looking for terrorist suspects. Watch the video below:
Despite his missteps, Hikind told The Times that he learned his lesson. But he still ended up putting his foot in his mouth when he elaborated.
“Next year I was thinking I’d be an Indian,” he said. “But you know, I’ve changed my mind about that. I don’t think that’s a good idea. Somebody will be offended.”