The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has denounced Megyn Kelly hours after the “Today” host said “blackface” would be OK in some situations on Halloween.
“During the slave trade, some people thought it was OK to treat human beings as property and less than animals,” Malik Russell, a spokesperson for the civil rights organization, told TheWrap on Tuesday. “Maybe in Megyn Kelly’s world, offensive acts and racism are OK, but I assure you for individuals of color, blackface is always racist and never OK.
“According to most studies on implicit bias, many think they are less racist than they really are — and regardless of whether Megyn’s bias is intentional or just implicit, its still wrong,” Russell continued. “As a national public figure, she has a responsibility to check herself – or get checked by those who are tired of racism and being disrespected by individuals who just don’t get it.”
The comments from the NAACP represent the strongest rebuke so far of Kelly for remarks she made on her show earlier Tuesday.
“What is racist?” Kelly asked during a panel discussion with Melissa Rivers, Jacob Soboroff and former first daughter Jenna Bush Hager. “You get in trouble if you’re a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. When I was a kid that was OK as long as you were dressing up as a character.”
Kelly also defended Real Housewife star Luann de Lessep’s decision to darken her appearance for her Diana Ross costume last year.
By mid-afternoon Tuesday, the NBC host sent an email to network staffers internally, apologizing for her opinion. The email was obtained by TheWrap.
“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?” said Kelly. “I realize now that such behavior is indeed wrong, and I am sorry. The history of blackface in our culture is abhorrent; the wounds too deep.”
“I’ve never been a ‘pc’ kind of person — but I understand that we do need to be more sensitive in this day and age,” she continued. “Particularly on race and ethnicity issues which, far from being healed, have been exacerbated in our politics over the past year.”