Sometimes Megyn Kelly makes me wonder if she is one of the few people in this world who has never been irritated by a good poke in her side. You know the kind. I’m talking about the ones where a person just randomly comes up to you and just jabs you right in the side with their finger and laughs. It’s the one that’s so sharp and annoying that it instantly makes you irritated and gripe “ouch that hurts.”
She’s also probably never been a victim of a repeat poke offender. The kind who, after you make such a protest and exclaim you’re in pain, do it again anyway. Just for kicks. A recent segment on Kelly’s show on NBC has me officially convinced that the host (formerly of FOX News) doesn’t know caca about this experience. If she had, then maybe she would have never called the racism of Blackface into question and in turn, reminded us of our confusion over her presence on a national liberal television outlet in the first place.
On Tuesday, Kelly gathered a crew of white guests for an episode of “Megyn Kelly Today” to question whether Blackface is racist.
Megyn Kelly wonders what the big deal is about blackface pic.twitter.com/07yvYDuAYe
— Tommy Christopher (@tommyxtopher) October 23, 2018
The NBC host, who has stirred up controversy on her show on numerous occasions for questions that have been labeled as “sexist” and “ageist,” attempted to call into question the offensiveness of racist Halloween costumes and Blackface specifically. What’s worse, the daytime host used her airtime to question her all-white panel of guests if our impression of racism has become too sensitive. Yes, it looks like even years after Kelly took to the air to emphatically insist to little children everywhere that Santa and Jesus could never be Black, the host has returned to haunt us with her ignorance and make known her privilege and racist outlook yet again. After a discussion about racist Halloween costumes, Kelly cut in and asked “But what is racist Because you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween, or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween.” And she didn’t stop there, Kelly also went on to muse that “Back when I was a kid that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character.”
Fingers crossed someone at NBC can explain to Kelly that what she really meant to say was that back in her day, growing up in the ‘70s in a white suburb of Albany, New York (whose population was occupied by only 12 percent Black people at the time), that there were likely no Black people around her to properly inform her view about racism in our country. If there had been, maybe Kelly would have learned that Blackface has historically been used as a tool by white people to stoke the worst stereotypes of Black people and for decades characterize them as lazy, dumb and buffoonish. Maybe she would have found herself even just a bit horrified by the fact that every year, the Black community continues to watch people display this ignorant practice. She might even have been disgusted to find that these same people willfully copying the gestures of others who just decades ago used it to portray Black people as happy-go-lucky slaves in an effort to undermine anti-Jim Crow and anti-slavery movements.
No doubt, Kelly’s adolescent life in a nondiverse neighborhood like Albany and her continued acquirement of like-minded social circle of a similar background today have kept her from understanding that when a person screams “ouch” you listen. You do not whine because you can’t have your heedless forms of “fun” anymore. Black people aren’t out here to “spoil the fun” for everyone, we’re trying to save our lives, and make sure that people see us as humans, not caricatures to be worn as costumes, or animals to be profiled and shot in our own neighborhoods.
(And also, since when did humiliating people equate to good times?)
Kelly’s unchecked privilege and outlook on race issues in the country she reports on can be compiled in her last comment in the segment that aired yesterday. There she quips “I can’t keep up with the number of people that we’re offending just by being normal people.” Here’s hoping that another person at NBC can explain to Kelly that what she really meant to say was “by being oblivious white people.”
Soon after the show aired, Kelly was forced to apologize to her colleagues after she faced backlash and criticism from within NBC and its followers online.
Megyn Kelly just delivered an extended apology for her blackface comments on the Today show pic.twitter.com/kHVDjCSZSp
— Pamela Engel (@PamEngel12) October 24, 2018
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kelly apologized to her colleagues and friends in an internal email writing “One of the wonderful things about my job is that I get the chance to express and hear a lot of opinions. Today is one of those days where listening carefully to other points of view, including from friends and colleagues, is leading me to rethink my own views.” The host went onto explain that she thought Blackface “seemed okay if done as part of this holiday where people have the chance to make themselves look like others… I realize now that such behavior is indeed wrong, and I am sorry. The history of blackface in our culture is abhorrent; the wounds too deep.”
Of course, Kelly’s email is a reminder that while, yes, it can be too late to say sorry and too late to learn (the body count of the number of POC killed in this country by police brutality and happy trigger racists on a yearly basis can prove this) it’s always better late than never. Still, I can’t help but look at Kelly’s history of ignorance, and her consistently obstinate commentary on racial issues in our country and wonder what such a privilege to be able to do so must feel like. I’m not sure. I’ve never gotten the allure of Blackface. Certainly, I’ve never poked someone in the side and pouted when they said stop just because I didn’t like that it meant I couldn’t get gratification out of it anymore.
Anyway, all this is to say that I’d like to put in an order for Soledad O’Brien, Ilia Calderón or Ann Curry for her replacement. This is not the NBC I ordered.