Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind is shocked and surprised that some people out there are suggesting that his Purim costume may have been a little bit racist. Mostly because his Purim costume was him dressing up as a generic basketball player and wearing blackface and an afro.
Which, yes, is entirely, without question, entirely racist.
Hikind responded to the criticism by taking to his blog and blathering on about how no one understands Purim and is too politically correct:
“I am intrigued that anyone who understands Purim — or for that matter understands me — would have a problem with this. This is political correctness to the absurd. There is not a prejudiced bone in my body.”
For those of you who may be curious, there is, in fact, no grand tradition of blackface on Purim. And once again, it is racist. And really, really stupid, particularly if you are a public figure. If it didn’t go over well for Ted Danson, it will likely not go over well for you.
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, if you’re a giant weirdo, “But Robyn! There must be non-racist way that I, a totally non-racist white person, may indulge my intense desire to don blackface without people judging me and insinuating that I might, in fact, actually be racist!”
And technically, there is. For instance, is it 1960 and are you John Howard Griffin, in the process of writing Black Like Me? Are you disguising yourself as a black man in order to conduct a searing exposé on the Jim Crow south?
If so, then yes! You can wear blackface without being a racist.
Are you appearing in a Hollywood biopic of Al Jolson, star of the first full length talkie, “The Jazz Singer”?
Then yeah. You might be able to get away with wearing blackface and not being a racist. Then again, there is probably kind of a reason as to why there hasn’t been a Jolson biopic since 1946.
These are really the only two instances in which I can possibly fathom someone wearing blackface and it not being racist. If you think you have a really good, definitely not racist reason for wearing blackface, I suggest you float that idea on past your black friends. If you do not have any to consult on this, then you probably have your answer already.