U.S. rapper Macklemore has posted an apology to his website after facing a firestorm over his appearance in a costume appearing to be a caricature of an eastern European Jew.
On stage the blonde, white rapper wore a black wig and beard, and a fake hooked nose last week at the EMP Museum in Seattle. The performance was a fund raiser to celebrate the opening of the new museum. Seattle is the hometown of Macklemore and his performing partner, Ryan Lewis.
Macklemore (aka Ben Haggerty) said in his statement that he donned the costume to perform incognito.
“There is no worse feeling than being misunderstood, especially when people are hurt or offended,” he wrote. “Earlier in the day I thought it would be fun to dress up in a disguise and go incognito to the event so that I could walk around unnoticed and surprise the crowd with a short performance,” he explained.
“I picked up a bunch of fake mustaches and beards and grabbed a leftover wig from our recent trip to Japan… The fake noses they sell at the costume store are usually big… I ended up with a big witch nose. I went with a black beard because that’s the furthest color from my natural hair. Disguise was the intention… Some people there thought I looked like Ringo, some Abe Lincoln… The character I dressed up as on Friday had no intended cultural identity or background. I wasn’t attempting to mimic any culture nor resemble one. A “Jewish stereotype” never crossed my mind.
“I respect all cultures and all people. I would never intentionally put down anybody for the fabric that makes them who they are. I love human beings, love originality and. . . happen to love a weird outfit from time to time…
“I acknowledge how the costume could, within a context of stereotyping, be ascribed to a Jewish caricature,” he added in the statement. “I am here to say that it was not, absolutely not my intention, and unfortunately at the time I did not foresee the costume to be viewed in such regard. I’m saddened that this story or any of my choices, would lead to any form of negativity.”
The performer added a link to the website of the New York City-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) at the end of the statement, noting, “Out of a negative can come a positive. Through this situation I’ve got hip to some incredible groups like the ADL and I encourage people to check the great work they, and others like them, do.”
Macklemore and & Ryan Lewis are Grammy Award winners and have performed on the stages of numerous award ceremonies.