A white Oklahoma mayoral candidate has apologized to voters after videos surfaced of him wearing blackface and performing in drag as a black woman named Pollyester Kotton, according to Think Progress.
Bill Helton, who is currently serving as Elk City’s commissioner and works as a hairstylist, claims that the character was inspired by one of his African-American clients, notes the report. Helton says he has been hosting fundraisers and community events across the state dressed as “Pollyster Kotton” since 2005.
“It’s just satire; she’s a character,” Helton told KFOR, News Channel 4. “Anyone that’s offended, I would sit down and talk to them. Because my heart is, I would never do that and want to help whoever I can help.”
Helton added that he does not see himself as racist because he has “great, great friends who are African American.”
The Oklahoma chapter of the NAACP condemned Helton, according to a statement released to KFOR. “The character could have been just as effective done without the blackface makeup and would be far less offensive,” the group said in the statement.