Whose Black Face Apology Was Worse, the Fashion Mag or the NYC Politician?


Whose Black Face Apology Was Worse, the Fashion Mag or the NYC Politician?


Black face is so hot right now. My only regret is that there wasn’t a third example in the news this week thereby making this a full-fledged trend piece. First up was New York City assemblyman Dov Hikind, who celebrated the Jewish holiday of Purim on Saturday by, as he explained, “trying to emulate, you know, maybe some of these basketball players.”

When asked whether or not, you know, dressing up in black face might not have been a great idea, he defended his choices, saying, among other really weird things, “I can’t imagine anyone getting offended. Purim, you know, everything goes and it’s all done with respect. No one is laughing, no one is mocking.”


Oh word. It’s Purim. You guys know how Purim gets, haha, What happens on Purim… as they say. He went on:

“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.” That’s true, there are many different neighborhoods in Brooklyn where people dress up, hard to dispute that.  I guess you’re off the hook?

“No one walked in today and said, ‘Oh my God.’ … It’s all just in good fun with respect always, whatever anyone does it’s done with tremendous amounts of respect and with dignity, of course.”

No, no, of course, we get you. The dignity of, you know, some sort of basketball player, with a giant comical buffoon’s afro, and an orange jumpsuit on. Later, on his blog he wrote:

Yes, I wore a costume on Purim and hosted a party. Most of the people who attended also wore costumes. Everywhere that Purim was being celebrated, people wore costumes. It was Purim. People dress up.
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.

Eventually, after mounting pressure from other New York politicians, Hikind issued a real apology (of sorts): “The main objective that I have is not to be recognizable. Of course the intention was not to offend anyone. That’s the last thing that I ever imagined that would happen, to be very honest. It never crossed my mind. My wife, you saw the picture, she was the devil. Believe me, she’s not the devil….A lot of people just don’t realize, on Purim, in a sense, forgive me for saying this, you do crazy stuff. It’s not done, God forbid, to laugh, to mock, to hurt, to pain anyone.”

How would Hikind like it, many people have asked, if someone had dressed up as a Jewish caricature? He would not like it one bit you won’t be surprised to hear! Remember when John Galliano was criticized for his orthodox Jewish costume a couple weeks ago? Guess who was mad?

“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?” Hikind said.

OK, but that’s just local politics, what about something that matters, like international fashion? Earlier this week Numéro magazine came under fire for an editorial spread in which a young, white model, Ondria Hardin,  was featured in black face under the title “African Queen.” Because there are no black models available for work anywhere, obviously.

After a predictable shit-storm from the predictable shit-storm-chasers, the French magazine issued an apology of sorts, as the Huffington Post writes.

Some people have declared that they have been offended by the publication in Numéro magazine n°141 of March 2013, of an editorial realized by the photographer Sebastian Kim called “African Queen”, featuring the American model Ondria Hardin posing as an “African queen”, her skin painted in black.

Some people have declared a lot of things. I realize this is a French magazine, but is this some of the weirdest passive syntax you’ve ever read or what? An editorial realized by? Oh, he didn’t do anything, he just realized this editorial. That’s fine, but we just realized that it’s some racist-ass shit.

The artistic statement of the photographer Sebastian Kim, author of this editorial, is in line with his previous photographic creations, which insist on the melting pot and the mix of cultures, the exact opposite of any skin color based discrimination. Numéro has always supported the artistic freedom of the talented photographers who work with the magazine to illustrate its pages, and has not took part in the creation process of this editorial.

Yes, people who get caught being racist are always quick to point out how “color blind” they are. Also, pretty good job passing the buck on this one onto the photographer you support.

For its part, Numéro Magazine, which has the utmost respect for this photographer’s creative work, firmly excludes that the latest may have had, at any moment, the intention to hurt readers’ sensitivity, whatever their origin.

Except for black people.

Numéro Magazine considers that it has regularly demonstrated its deep attachment to the promotion of different skin-colored models. For instance, the next issue of Numéro for Man on sale on 15th march has the black model Fernando Cabral on the cover page, and the current Russian edition’s cover of our magazine features the black model Naomi Campbell on its cover. This demonstrates the completely inappropriate nature of the accusations made against our magazine, deeply committed to the respect for differences, tolerance and more generally to non-discrimination.

Some of our best cover models are black.

Considering the turmoil caused by this publication, the Management of Numéro Magazine would like to apologize to anyone who may have been offended by this editorial.

So, there you go, anyone who may have been offended, everything is all better.


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