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Hikind Defends His Blackface Hoop Player Purim Shtick

Is a Purim costume of a stereotyped black basketball player a racist slur, especially when a Jewish politician is behind the mask? NY legislator Hikind says it was “lots of fun.” No offense intended.
Dov Hikind in his black basketball costume for Purim - fun or offensive?

Dov Hikind in his black basketball costume for Purim - fun or offensive?
Photo Credit: Dov Hikind's Facebook page

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Brooklyn New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind had “a lot of fun” by dressing up as a black basketball player on Purim, but now that the party is over, so is the fun.

He invited a professional makeup artist to his home on Purim to help him with his costume, complete with an afro wig, sunglasses, an orange jersey and – of course – brown face paint.

“I was just, I think, I was trying to emulate, you know, maybe some of these basketball players. Someone gave me a uniform, someone gave me the hair of the actual, you know, sort of a black basketball player,” Mr. Hikind explained to the Politicker website. “It was just a lot of fun.… The fun for me is when people come in and don’t recognize me.”

Dozens of people streamed in and out of his house to enjoy the Purim party, where his wife dressed up as a devil, which is probably what many people, black and white, are calling him today.

Jews dress up as just about anyone on Purim, from Arabs, to Haredi Jews, political figures, clowns, priests – everything. But recreating a stereotype of blacks is the farthest point away from being politically correct, especially for a Jewish politician,

Hikind sees no problem with his costume.

“I can’t imagine anyone getting offended,” he told Politicker. “You know, anyone who knows anything about Purim knows that if you walk throughout the community, whether it’s Williamsburg, Boro Park, Flatbush, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens Hills, people get dressed up in, you name it, you know, in every kind of dress-up imaginable.

“Purim, you know, everything goes and it’s all done with respect. No one is laughing, no one is mocking.”

Hikind told a WCBS 880 reporter that it “never crossed my mind for a second” that the costume might be offensive, and added, “If I was black, on Purim I would have made my face look like I was white.”

The New York Times reported Monday that Assembly Democrat, Deborah J. Glick of Manhattan, took to Twitter to state her objections to the costume and wrote, “Assembly member Dov Hikind in blackface was beyond offensive. A Purim party shouldn’t be cover for insensitivity.” City Councilman Mark Weprin posted on Twitter a simple question: “What was Dov thinking?”

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About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.


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9 Responses to “Hikind Defends His Blackface Hoop Player Purim Shtick”

  1. The less said about this the better. Just let it blow over.

  2. And yet, this is the same Dov Hikind who was reported by the JP a couple of weeks ago as being quite offended when John Galiano dressed up as a Chasid. Another politician/hypocrite. Nobody but a moron wears blackface, or dresses up as a Chasid to "repair" his reputation with Jews.

  3. Mildred Bilt says:

    Politician? What happened to political correctness? Political sensitvity for his constituents? Political tact? So Brooklyn now has the distinction of sending a witless blockhead to the NY State Assembly. Reflects rather badly on the voters.

  4. Get your hearts off your sleeves, ladies.

  5. Grace Acosta says:

    It doesn't matter how "innocent" his intentions were. He lives in America, and should be aware of how problematic his choice was. When you accidentally stomp on someone's foot, the polite thing to do is to apologise!

  6. Mr. Hikind, this is extremely offensive and insensitive thing to do. You said it yourself, "it never crossed your mind for a second". That alone shows your insensitivity to what you did and the fact that your didin't care how African American's would be offended. Now that you've done it and you see that it was offensive, are you going to apologize?

  7. Bernhard Rosenberg · Senior Rabbi at Congregation Beth El.

    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

  8. Miriam Driker Karp says:

    of course it was offensive, wouldn't we be offended if a Christian or Black wore a stereotypical hareidi costume on Halloween, very likely. What was he thinking — or not thinking?

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