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Megyn Kelly Wants To Know: What's So Offensive About Blackface?

By Kristy Puchko | TV | October 23, 2018 |

By Kristy Puchko | TV | October 23, 2018 |


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Because, of course, she does. The news anchor, who once did a segment dedicated to declaring that Jesus and Santa are white, doesn’t get why white people shouldn’t put on blackface for Halloween.

“But what is racist?” Kelly pondered on Megyn Kelly Today, “You truly do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface at Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. When I was a kid that was okay as long as you were dressing like a character.”

She goes on to suggest blackface should be as acceptable on Halloween as “guys running around with fake axes coming out of their heads,” because false equivalency is a favored tool of conservatives.

Check out the clip below:

Okay. So once more for the people in the back: Blackface is racist. It’s racist even if you do it because you super love a black celebrity or TV character. You can dress up as them without employing a device that was used to dehumanize their race for generations. As early as the 1830s, blackface was employed by white actors in minstrel shows to portray black characters as “lazy, ignorant, superstitious, hypersexual, and prone to thievery and cowardice,” per The National Museum of African American History and Culture. In 1915, blackface was worn by white actors in D.W. Griffith’s pro-KKK drama The Birth of a Nation, which was a massive hit. More recently, hordes of white college students have thrown parties that celebrate blackface and promote racist stereotypes. AND if you look at the chyron, universities cracking down on offensive costumes is actually what inspired this Megyn Kelly Today segment, so its host presumably knows about at least this.

Now, maybe a white woman putting on a bronzer to dress up as Diana Ross thinks she is in no way connected to this horrid history of racism and mockery. But that’s not for her to decide. And no, being called racist is not oppression. Racism is oppression. So if the worst thing that’s happening to you is that someone tells you not to do blackface for Halloween, consider yourself privileged and pick a different costume.

But Kelly’s comments are not infuriating just because she is an educated woman in 2018 who is still confused by a controversy that is nearly 200 years old. It’s infuriating because she’s a self-proclaimed “straight news anchor” who made no effort to bring on an expert that could address her questions. She didn’t invite a scholar in American history or entertainment or a representative from The National Museum of African American History and Culture. She didn’t even allow a black person at the table for this discussion! Instead, she spoke with three other white people: NBC News correspondents Jenna Bush Hager and Jacob Soboroff and TV personality Melissa Rivers. And they all rejected her pro-blackface arguments, but still couldn’t speak to the history or context that really would have addressed the issue at hand.

So, instead, Kelly just trotted out the same blithely ignorant talking points, while once more promoting a white supremacist narrative with a grin and an aw-shucks shrug, concluding her segment with:

“I can’t keep up with the number of people we’re offending just by being normal people.”

Normal people. We all know what she’s really saying, right?



Kristy Puchko is the managing editor of Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.



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