Megyn Kelly is under fire for blackface comments

By CHINA SUMMERS
On November 5, 2018

Photo courtesy of Kremlin.ru, Wikipedia

On a recent segment of the “Today” show, Megyn Kelly’s comments regarding the use of blackface during Halloween resulted in her future at NBC being on the line.

“Back when I was a kid, it was okay as long as you were dressing as a character,” Kelly said. The news anchor received backlash from everyone, including her “Today” co-host Al Roker.

“While she apologized to the staff, she owes a bigger apology to folks of color around the country because this is a history going back to the 1830s,” said Roker after Megyn’s on-air apology to the NBC staff.

Blackface began in minstrel shows dating back to the early and mid-19th century. In these shows, it was typical for white actors to paint their faces with black grease and exaggerate facial features by painting on big lips to portray African-Americans.

In these shows, African-Americans were portrayed as lazy, ignorant and extremely stereotypical. In Broadway and Vaudeville shows, black actors were dehumanized, forced to wear blackface because white audiences did not want to see them on stage without it. The art form was another way to promote institutional racism and to belittle the black race.

For some, painting their skin darker is a harmless joke that can be overlooked. For others, it is a reminder of how other races may take black people as a joke.

The pigmentation that we have is permanent and this pigmentation has made our lives more difficult in terms of education, seeking better employment, targeted racism and so much more. 

The problem with Megyn Kelly is not her normalization of blackface. She should have known better as a professional journalist.

While some justify that she did not know the history of blackface, this is not the first or second time that the argument of blackface for Halloween costumes has surfaced.

Excuses for ignorance need to stop. In a country where it is clear that equality does not exist for everyone, it is up to the American people to educate themselves on certain issues. This is especially true for an onscreen news reporter such as Megyn Kelly. 

While NBC has yet to officially fire Kelly, I believe that she should be fired. Over the span of her career, she has frequently offended viewers.

In 2013, she stated that Jesus and Santa Claus are historical figures that are indeed white, although there are others who believe they could be another race. In 2016, in an interview with black actor D.L Hughley about police brutality, she argued that Michael Brown was the aggressor in a fatal police shooting, implying that he caused his own death.

It is clear that Megyn Kelly lacks knowledge in issues regarding race and should take the time to educate herself. NBC choosing to terminate her employment will give her time to do just that.

csummers@ramapo.edu

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