New Jersey councilman is under fire dressing in blackface in 2021. Despite the civil unrest that sparked a huge racial divide across the United States in 2020, the newly elected Vincent Kelly thought it would be funny to celebrate Halloween as the dark-skinned rapper, Flavor Flav.
Yes. You read it right.
He says that he is sorry and that when he bought the costume in 2008, he didn’t know that a white man dressing up as someone he admired, was wrong.
“In 2008 I purchased and wore a Flavor Flav costume to a Halloween party where guests were expected to dress as a celebrity. At the time Flavor Flav’s yelling of ‘yeah boy’ made him incredibly popular, wearing the costume was a celebration of his fame,” he said.
On Friday, a picture from the holiday party when he wore the costume emerged on the internet dressed like the Public Enemy hype man. Judy Walker with the Pitman Anti-Racist Collective shared the photo that was posted on the Republican Councilman’s personal Facebook page to a) expose him but also b) call for an educated correction.
She said, “It’s pretty shocking, but our goal is not to cancel him, it’s to educate him.”
Loretta Winters with the Gloucester County NAACP didn’t sound as altruistic, laying it at the feet of the systemic racism birthed out of America’s lack of race-related tolerance or respect.
She informed the Philadelphia CBS local affiliate, “White folks used to dress up as a minstrel to mock Black people, to exaggerate comedy, to laugh at them. So we take it very serious and it does hurt.”
“It’s unacceptable and it shouldn’t come from our elected officials,” she said. “It tells me that the homework was not done, the homework and the research on the candidates were not done.”
Kelly must have gotten the memo. Less than a day after the picture went viral, he released a statement saying the following:
“Years later I briefly used the picture as a cover photo on my Facebook page during the Halloween season, changed the picture after the season, and frankly forgot about it until recent events.
“I do understand that we live in a very different time and today, even as a celebration of one’s fame, I would not even consider wearing a costume that included blackface. I apologize to anyone who may be hurt by my costume choice of years ago and will soon reach out to the Pitman Anti-Racist Collective so we can hopefully schedule a meeting and have some open, honest dialogue.”
The story is developing.