Reaction to Dov Hikind’s blackface costume
Assemblyman Dov Hikind decided to dress up as a black basketball player for Purim, provoking a swift backlash that he seemed surprised by, for some reason.
A picture of him in his costume, first reported by Hunter Walker, appeared on his son's Facebook page. His son confirmed to me this weekend that it was his father.
I contacted the Democratic mayoral candidates to get their responses.
The only African-American candidate in the field, former comptroller Bill Thompson, is a close political ally of Hikind.
So far the only Democratic mayoral candidate who has responded is former councilman Sal Albanese. In a statement, he said: "I strongly condemn Assemblyman Hikind's tasteless attempt at humor and suggest my opponents stop begging for his endorsement. In a city as diverse as New York, there's no place for this kind of behavior, especially from an elected official. Given the history of black face, Dov should know better."
I'll update with other responses as they come in.
UPDATE:In a statement to me, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said, "In all the time I've known Dov, I've never found him to be prejudiced against anyone, but clearly he did something very insensitive here. He should apologize."
UPDATE: In a statement to me, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said, "Assemblyman Hikind's costume was highly inappropriate and offensive and he should apologize."
UPDATE: In a statement, Bill Thompson said, "For years, Assemblyman Dov Hikind has played a crucial role in bringing together leaders from the African American, Jewish, and other communities to stand against racism and anti-Semitism. Consistent with his record of service and commitment to our diverse city, I believe this incident calls for Assemblyman Hikind to issue an apology. I have stood with Dov on numerous occasions to take on the challenges that face our city. I look forward to doing so again.”
UPDATE: "Not only have your actions called into question your understanding of African American culture in this country, and in this city, but your statements that have a smack of hypocrisy," members of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus of the New York City Council wrote, in a letter to Hikind.