Is Blackface Racist? Megyn Kelly Needs Some Help Figuring This Out Before Halloween
Megyn Kelly is a public-facing white woman with a considerable platform. She’s earned a law degree, covered and debated thousands of news stories on national television, and moderated presidential debates. And yet, in spite of the fact that her literal job is to be constantly and deeply embroiled in social and cultural conversations — the kind that are nuanced on topics such as race, identity, intersectionality, and social justice — Megyn Kelly still questions whether or not blackface is racist.
And therein lies the privilege of being a public-facing white woman with a platform: You never have to stop asking the same stupid questions.
“What is racist?” Kelly wondered aloud on Megyn Kelly Today on Monday, asking her all-white panel of guests if it’s OK to wear blackface for Halloween. “You do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween, or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was OK just as long as you were dressing as a character.”
For many of us, the question of whether or not blackface is racist has long since been answered — but Kelly is clearly still grappling with it. On the same episode of her show, Kelly mentioned the controversy surrounding Real Housewives of New York star Luann de Lesseps, who dressed as Diana Ross for Halloween. “There was a controversy…” Kelly said of the incident. “She dressed as Diana Ross and she made her skin look darker than it really is,” Kelly said. “People said that was racist! And I don’t know, like, I thought, like, ‘Who doesn’t love Diana Ross?’ She wants to look like Diana Ross for one day. I don’t know how that got racist on Halloween.”
Of course, by now many of us know, beyond shadow of a doubt, that blackface on Halloween — or any other day — represents a particularly insidious facet of racism, the one that makes it ok to laugh at black people and then toss them to the side. White people love and embrace black culture while routinely abandoning the actual human beings that gave them that culture; gentrifying the shit out of every neighborhood without a care, ignoring the fact that police brutality and drug laws target and disenfranchise black people at much higher rates, even staying quiet while their racist uncles hold court over Thanksgiving dinner.
If that feels like a lot to bring up for one comment about blackface, that’s because it is — these are the very serious issues that something as “silly” as idle speculation about blackface conceals. De Lesseps’ Diana Ross costume — which included both darkening her skin and wearing a comically large wig — was just absurd enough to play as “funny,” and most likely made her peers laugh for much longer than the time they spent discussing their love and adoration for the accomplishments of Diana Ross. At the end of the night, de Lesseps could strip herself of her “blackness” and step back into the white world with another funny memory under her belt.
RELATED VIDEO: Megyn Kelly Defends Blackface on Network Television
For Kelly — for anyone — to question why this is a problem is, at this point, galling. Kelly's constant interaction with the news cycle, with conversations about social justice, with the political climate, should have taught her by now. If not any of that, a quick Google search would do the trick. The answer she seeks is so obvious, it hurts — and yet, it’s clear she still feels safe enough in her position to ask the question. She’s using her platform to speculate on blackface with impunity, seemingly unaware of the fact that simply having that platform means that not only should she know the answer — she should be sharing it with the people listening to her.
Unfortunately, she’s not. So here it is, from one white woman with a platform to another: Blackface is racist. Please, for the love of god, stop asking.