Is Megan Kelly being picked on?
For those of you who don’t know, Megyn Kellly is a former Fox News employee who was recently hired by NBC News to anchor the 9 a.m. version of the Today show. She drew intense criticism Tuesday morning when she questioned whether wearing blackface as part of a Halloween costume is actually racist during a segment on her show.
She and an all-white panel were discussing campus attempts to discourage “inappropriate and offensive costumes” when Kelly asked, “But what is racist? Because truly, you 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. Back when I was a kid, that was okay as long as you were dressing up like a character.”
Those were her comments about wearing blackface. She certainly didn’t defend it, at least in the present, although she did state that when she was a kid it was no big deal. When I was a kid, 25 years before Meghan, it was no big deal either but that was a time of almost national segregation. Things have certainly changed since then and the words of Craig Melvin and Al Roker proved we’re not in the ’50s anymore.
Craig Melvin called her remarks “indefensible” as well as “ignorant and racist” and Al Roker insisted she “owes a bigger apology to folks of color around the country.”
I’m not sure why. Does simply stating what you used to do that you don’t do anymore constitute offensive language? If it does, I’ve done it too and those of you who know me know I’m not a racist. I used to do and say many things I don’t do or say anymore because of a changing of the times. What used to be acceptable isn’t acceptable anymore and I understand that. No white person has ever walked around in dark skin and been treated to the daily insults and indignities that people of color are. So we don’t have that experience and if we don’t, it means we’ll never know what it is to be black in this country.
But what Meghan Kelly DIDN’T do was defend her comments. She didn’t indicate in any way that it was all right to dress in blackface today. She gave the idea no credibility at all. She simply said that’s what she used to do when she was a kid because, according to cultural norms and values that existed then, it was okay to do so.
Can we not even talk about what used to be OK? Are we supposed to pretend those times didn’t exist? Can we not bring up the subject for fear of being criticized or even fired from our job because our comments don’t live up to the norms and values of today? This is where my criticism lies. Perhaps we shouldn’t say or do anything that indicates a current or past bias or prejudice for fear of alienating that group of people it’s directed at. On the other hand, maybe that group of people and their supporters shouldn’t be nearly as sensitive about comments made as they are.
I certainly disagree with Craig Melvin’s observation that her remarks were “indefensible” and “ignorant and racist” because that’s imposing a level of criticism on her that paints her as racist and intolerant when I don’t believe her remarks indicated that at all.
Meghan is a 47-year-old white woman who has already apologized twice-first in an internal email to colleagues and then on-air as she held back tears-but the backlash continued to heighten and questions about her future at the network loomed, especially with the morning show just days away from its annual Halloween special.
Meghan herself wants out of her limited role as the 9 a.m. Today show host to follow her real passion and that is to become involved in the 2020 presidential campaign coverage. That switch in assignment and role has nothing to do with her comment made about blackface and shouldn’t.
You can be a supporter of equal rights and an opponent of racism and prejudice without seeing the bogeyman behind every tree and it seems to me that’s what’s going on now.
All of us need to be more tolerant and understanding!