Megyn Kelly slammed for defending blackface Halloween costume, says: 'When I was a kid, that was ok'
NBC host Megyn Kelly issued an apology to her colleagues on Tuesday after her she received heavy backlash for defending racist Halloween gags. The journalist reportedly made the controversial remarks during a roundtable discussion on "Megyn Kelly Today" about the inappropriate Halloween costumes.
Kelly, in an internal note, said: "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," CNN reported.
Kelly, during the segment, had said that when she was growing up, it was okay for white people to dress up as black characters. She also spoke out against last year's controversy over a reality star who had portrayed Diana Ross.
"But what is racist?" Kelly asked. "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. Back when I was a kid that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character."
Kelly, later during the discussion also brought up The Real Housewives of New York's Luann de Lesseps who was criticized last year for dressing up as Diana Ross.
Megyn Kelly wonders what the big deal is about blackface pic.twitter.com/07yvYDuAYe— Tommy Christopher (@tommyxtopher) October 23, 2018
"There was a controversy on The Real Housewives of New York with Luann, and she dressed as Diana Ross, and she made her skin look darker than it really is and people said that that was racist," Kelly said. "And I don't know, I felt like who doesn't love Diana Ross? She wants to look like Diana Ross for one day. I don't know how, like, that got racist on Halloween."
Kelly's comment sparked outrage as many observers noticed that there was not a single person of color on the panel and no one mentioned the controversial history of blackface. Blackface is the practice of wearing makeup and costumes by non-black people to appear as a person of color. The practice, which is seen as disparaging stereotypes, is strongly criticized by the Aboriginal community, civil rights and anti-discrimination groups and activists.
.@megynkelly - "I don't get why Black face is so offensive?"— W. Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) October 23, 2018
Also @megynkelly - "KIDS, NEVER FORGET SANTA CLAUS IS WHITE!!!!"https://t.co/43HvDkVC9N
However, there were certain panelists who did not agree with Kelly's opinions and said. Author and television host Melissa Rivers said: "If you think it's offensive, it probably is. Whatever happened to just, manners and polite society?"
Kelly interjected Rivers statement with: "But on Halloween? On Halloween you've got guys running around with fake axes coming out of their head. You're going to, it's going to be jarring."
Kelly, then moving on to another panelist, MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff, brought up the Lesseps controversy, to which he said: "I haven't seen it. I have not seen it, but it sounds a little racist to me."
Because @megynkelly: minstrelsy is the basis for the coining of the term "Jim Crow" laws which served to humiliate & target Black Americans. Because caricaturing another race perpetuates the dehumanization of POC who are being killed & jailed at a disproportionate rate in the US https://t.co/xk2RAr2Kxq— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) October 23, 2018
Kelly, in her apology note, also stated that now she understands what mistakes she made while making the comments she did during the discussion.
"When we had the roundtable discussion earlier today about the controversy of making your face look like a different race as part of a Halloween costume, I suggested that this seemed okay if done as part of this holiday where people have the chance to make themselves look like others," she said. "The iconic Diana Ross came up as an example. To me, I thought, why would it be controversial for someone dressing up as Diana Ross to make herself look like this amazing woman as a way of honoring and respecting her?"
"I realize now that such behavior is indeed wrong, and I am sorry," Kelly added. "The history of blackface in our culture is abhorrent; the wounds too deep."