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July 28, 2015 / 12 Av, 5775
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Black Leaders Want Hikind’s Head for Purim Blackface (+ Video)

Setting race relations back to the 1860s…
Assemblywoman Inez Barron and African-American leaders want Hikind to pay dearly for his Purim costume.

Assemblywoman Inez Barron and African-American leaders want Hikind to pay dearly for his Purim costume.
Photo Credit: Rebecca Fishbein / Gothamist

The day after Purim (Monday), Orthodox Jewish Assemblyman Dov Hikind apologized for his choice of blackface as his Purim costume. But that didn’t quite satisfy the folks he offended, the fuming African American community leaders who probably never tatsed a decent hamantashen.

Because, let’s face it (no pun intended), in addition to his forthright twitter apology: “I am sincerely sorry that I have hurt anyone,” and “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,” Hikind, according to Gothamist, also said stuff like “sorry if you’re offended,” and (on Zev Brenner’s radio show) “Would that be OK Zev? If I played a gay person next year?”

So, incomplete contrition in anyone’s books. In response, on Tuesday, several elected officials and African American community leaders—including Mayor Bloomberg— spoke out against Hikind at a press conference at City Hall, calling his Purim choice and his comments “arrogant,” “degrading,” “shameful” and an attack on the dignity of the African-American people.

Oy vey.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind (center).

Assemblyman Dov Hikind (center).

Assemblywoman Inez Barron criticized Hikind for his general lack of enthusiasm for erasing the ravages of slavery (mostly because Hikind never hid his strong support for 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.”

I’ll tell you, we could be offended by this incredibly disingenuous exploitation of one man’s temporary loss of political savvy (Hikind is such a clever political animal normally, he’s been running for years as the only Republican elected official who is part of the Democratic caucus in Albany). But, to be fair, if we lose control over every joke at the expense of Jewish Hollywood moguls, we can’t cry foul over a blackface.

Barron’s husband, City Councilman Charles Barron, called on Gov. Cuomo and Speaker Sheldon Silver (another Orthodox Jew, but less Republican) to take away Hikind’s post of 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.”

Local community leaders in front of City Hall also said Hikind’s costume was more than just an offense. “The NAACP…fought against ‘blackface’ in the ’20s and ’30s. 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,” cried Reverend Conrad Tillard, a minister at the Nazarene Congregational Church of Christ in Bedford-Stuyvesant. “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.”

Silver, by the way, has already publicly rebuked Hikind’s Purim choice, as did Anti-Defamation League director Abe Foxman.

By the way, Mayor Bloomberg was not planning to be in the press conference, he was just passing by on his way into City Hall, when Councilman Barron asked for his opinion on the scandal and Bloomberg answered: “This time, we agree.”

Part 1

Part 2

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

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17 Responses to “Black Leaders Want Hikind’s Head for Purim Blackface (+ Video)”

  1. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Hikind is a politician who while he used bad judgment , I DOUBT INTENTIONALLY SOUGHT such bad publicity and outrage. He is not anti-black and this is becoming an issue that anti-Semites will grab onto. Stop the bad publicity. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

  2. Joels Davidi says:

    lol. six more days (months?) of purim, it seems…

  3. Yehuda Alan says:

    What's the big deal?

  4. Yehuda Alan says:

    It doesn't offend me.

  5. Yehuda Alan says:

    It doesn't offend me.

  6. Yehuda Alan says:

    it doesn't offend me.

  7. Judith Ross says:

    Funny, we white folks don't mind if Black folks do white face, after Purim the restrictions are thrown out the window. Men can dress like women and women can dress like men. Sensitivity is one thing, but over sensitivity is another!

  8. Chava Yocheved Burnham says:

    Oy, to be a black Jew..

  9. Mildred Bilt says:

    My comments have been deleted.

  10. Mildred Bilt says:

    Dumb Jews in the spotlight don/t reflect well on the rest of us. In fact. they represent a very grave danger for the rest of us.

  11. Joels Davidi says:

    Would you like to expand on that?

  12. Jan Bauman says:

    I wonder how Dov Hikind and his followers would like it if a politician went to a party as an orthodox Jew, complete with a hooked nose, a bag of lox and bagels, a heavy smelly coat and a knitted kippa. The cries of "anti-Semitism" would be heard around the world. Dov Hikind and his followers think it is OK to make fun of African-Americans but don't dare make fun of Jews.

  13. Jan Bauman says:

    I wonder how Dov Hikind and his followers would like it if a politician went to a party as an orthodox Jew, complete with a hooked nose, a bag of lox and bagels, a heavy smelly coat and a knitted kippa. The cries of "anti-Semitism" would be heard around the world. Dov Hikind and his followers think it is OK to make fun of African-Americans but don't dare make fun of Jews.

  14. Yehuda Cohen says:

    There are no objections to whitefaced people. In Israel a group of whitefaced singers (Jews) were formed, created by Lior Kalfon and Shai Fishman, and have made international acclaim with their performances. They are called the Voca People. Here’s what they look like:
    http://voca-people.com/index_a.html

  15. your comment is borderline racist

  16. I do see how his costume can be seen as insensitive and he should realize as a public figure he is scrutinized but the black leaders at the forefront of this are so egregiously anti Semitic in everything they do in public it's ludicrous for anyone to answer them with anything but scorn for their own bigotry.

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