A state assemblyman from Brooklyn is defending himself against charges of racism after a photo appeared on Facebook showing him attending a recent party dressed in blackface.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D) told The New York Observer that he was "trying to emulate, you know, maybe some of these basketball players." His getup included an Afro wig and an orange sports jersey, along with sunglasses.
"It was just a lot of fun," he reportedly said of the party, thrown in honor of the Jewish holiday of Purim, which involves dressing up in costume. "Everybody just had a very, very good time and every year I do something else. ... The fun for me is when people come in and don't recognize me."
"I am intrigued that anyone who understands Purim—or for that matter understands me—would have a problem with this," Hikind wrote Monday on his blog. "This is political correctness to the absurd. There is not a prejudiced bone in my body."
Assemblyman Karim Camara (D), an African-American who chairs the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus, was not so amused.
"We, as leaders have to be extremely careful that we foster understanding amongst our different cultural groups and not use the images of one as a tool for humor," he said Monday in prepared text, according to WPIX-TV in New York. "In speaking with many African-Americans, both leaders and average citizens, the outrage is widespread."
This video is from WPIX-TV in New York, aired Feb. 25, 2013.