I was on social media last night, scrolling through beautiful images-I am a freelance makeup artist, so my feed is usually full of fashion and beauty-when things turned ugly.
Apparently NBC host Megyn Kelly made a comment about blackface on her morning show Megyn Kelly Today, and it ignited a firestorm of opinionated posts from people I know from working over ten years at NBC. (I'm a contracted freelancer for the network, though I've been working on other projects so I haven’t been in the building for a few months.)
I wanted to form my own opinion, so I watched the video. In the clip, she announced to her viewers during a panel discussion: "Blackface-when I was a kid was OK as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character.”
I am a woman of color and live in my skin everyday, and so it definitely brought on feelings of discomfort, and feelings of anxiety-you begin to question everyone around you and how they actually feel about you.
I was exasperated and disappointed-but not surprised. Megyn Kelly has always been very opinionated about race. She’s not the type to yell and scream with a hate-filled T-shirt on, but she delivers a similar message, just dressed up differently. When I watched the clip of her I was immediately taken back to 2013, when she was at Fox News and said, "For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white."
I shut my phone off and tried to sleep. It was a restless night.
I woke up the next morning and checked Twitter again. Megyn Kelly was back in the news, this time apologizing for her comments, saying she "learned that given the history of blackface being used in awful ways by racists in this country, it is not okay for that to be part of any costume, Halloween or otherwise.”
But to claim ignorance on the subject of blackface is beneath her and an insult to our intelligence. I haven't worked directly with her, but to be this person she claims to be-a scholar of history, and a person well versed in American culture-she should have known about the history of blackface and why it’s highly offensive.
This woman’s behavior and cavalier attitude toward race are to me, at this point, unforgivable.
"I want to begin with two words, I'm sorry..The country feels so divided and I have no wish to add to that pain and offense. I believe this is a time for more understanding, more love, more sensitivity and honor..Thank you for listening and for helping me listen too." Megyn Kelly pic.twitter.com/6hHrvZLNvK- Megyn Kelly TODAY (@MegynTODAY) October 24, 2018
I felt anxious the entire day. I couldn't stop thinking about the fact that I continue to see people of color being vilified and demonized and dehumanized, in the way that blackface is incredibly dehumanizing.
I didn't talk to any of my NBC colleagues about it, because there's a level of separation I like to keep between my opinions and my work. Instead, I reached out to friends and family about how disappointing this was.
I've been a freelancer at NBC for over a decade now, on everything from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon when it was still Late Night, SNL, Dateline, Today, and MSNBC. It's always been a place that I loved working at. But the constant offensive things that Megyn Kelly does like asking Jane Fonda about plastic surgery and telling a Will & Grace superfan that his "gay thing's gonna work out great" are insulting.
I was disappointed when NBC hired her from Fox News, where she spent over a decade pushing racist, dishonest and incredibly divisive rhetoric about the first African American president, Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, like when she linked the former first lady's 2015 speech on racial discrimination to a growing "culture of victimization."
And I will be equally disappointed if NBC hangs onto her.
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