IPSWICH (CBS) – A Massachusetts brewery employee has apologized for using “blackface” makeup when he dressed up as rapper Biggie Smalls at a Halloween party hosted by the company.
Ipswich Ale Brewery employee Brian Watts wore the costume to the brewery’s Halloween party, which he attended as a ticket holder while off the clock. The theme for the party was “night of the living dead rock stars.”
Watts won a $100 prize for second place in the costume contest, determined by crowd applause.
The brewery employee said Notorious B.I.G. was his favorite childhood artist, and he originally planned to buy a mask online. But Watts said he ran out of time to order one and opted to use makeup instead.
“It simply never occurred to me that this was going to be so harmful to so many,” Watts said in a statement. “I wish I could take it back but I can’t. I also can’t undo the harm this has caused my employer that has been subjected to threats.”
Watts said that in order to keep his job, he will undergo sensitivity training and will serve an unpaid suspension.
Ipswich Ale Brewery president Rob Martin issued a statement about the controversy.
The Ipswich Ale Brewery values diversity and strives to provide an atmosphere where all feel welcome and comfortable. We are deeply sorry for the offense that we have caused and we offer our apologies to those who were offended by the action of this employee. The need for cultural sensitivity among all Americans is well recognized and we will be reinforcing cultural diversity training with our entire staff.
Watts said he will donate his prize money to the American Civil Liberties Union.
“I don’t want to profit from the pain and confusion I have caused,” Watts said.