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.”

costume Brewery Employee Apologizes After Wearing Blackface To Halloween Party

An Ipswich Ale Brewey employee is under fire for his controversial Halloween costume. (Facebook Image)

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.

Comments (3)
  1. I am offended by a lot of things people do and say. I don’t attack or threaten people who offend me. GET OVER IT PEOPLE!!!!! I am sorry you are offended, but the rest of us have to live our lives without worrying about you. How can you pretend to be a rapper of color WITHOUT painting yourself black? We have to stop being so politically correct in this country.

  2. I would like to thank Brian for his apology for what was apparently an innocent mistake. It is unfortunate that a television news program would feature a person’s unknowing error in judgement. If I were to write down every mistake I’ve made, it would be a very long book.

    My own reaction to what happened was critical, but in hindsight, I should not expect everyone to be familiar with the history of “blackface,” a form of entertainment in the 19th and early 20th Century that often portrayed black people in a prejudicial manner. This was obviously not his intention. The initial apology issued by the Brewery was inadequate, but this has given all of us the opportunity to learn, and to become more sensitive to all people, especially the way we respond on Facebook.

  3. That silly ‘social justice warrior’ who got all worked up about the costume should really find something better to do with her life. Brian was obviously celebrating Biggie Smalls, not reigniting 19th century ‘blackface’ traditions.

    How about people focus their attention on real issues of racial inequality – like economic disparity, police brutality and the casual murder of unarmed black men. A kid in a Biggie Smalls costume is not an issue. If anything it brings some humour and levity to an otherwise difficult issue.

    In film, theatre and comedy – on both television and the stage – people use makeup to change their skin tone all the time, with no public outcry. What is the difference here?

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