New York state assemblyman Dov Hikind apologized Monday after wearing an Afro wig, an orange jersey, and painting his face brown, in an attempt to dress up as "a black basketball player” for a Purim party.
"Anyone who was offended, I am sorry that they were offended," Hikind told reporters at a news conference on Monday. "That was not the intention, and that is really all I can say. I just have to reiterate it was Purim. Purim is when people get dressed up."
Assemblyman Karim Camara, a fellow Brooklyn Democrat, denounced the costume as "callous and repugnant."
"I don't think what he has said so far is sufficient," Camara told CNN. "It is a beginning, but we need to have a dialogue with him." He said the use of blackface "brings back the memories of African-Americans being reduced to buffoonery just to gain access to the entertainment industry."
Deputy national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Kenneth Jacobson similarly criticized the assemblyman, telling CNN that he "didn't take into account the history and context of what this is all about."
"That is the most disturbing part -- what he failed to think," Jacobson said.
Earlier this month, Hikind criticized fashion designer John Galliano who was seen wearing apparel believed to be mocking Hassidic garb.
"Who is he mocking?" Hikind told the New York Post at the time. "The way the socks look, the jacket, the peyos . . . My question is, who's he laughing at? If it was just anyone else, I wouldn't know what to say. But considering who this guy is, considering his background and what he's said in the past, let him explain it to all of us: Are you mocking us?"
Jacobson said that particularly in light of his recent comments Hikind should have been more sensitive to how his costume would be perceived by others.
"Part about standing up for one group is to be more sensitive about other groups, especially as a public official," he said.