Today in white tears: Megyn Kelly opened her segment of the Today show addressing her comments made on yesterday’s episode, in which she said that she didn’t understand what the big deal was over blackface. Her voice trembled a few times, and toward the end of her apology, it sounded as though she might cry. She was dressed in black, as if to underscore the gravity of the situation, or maybe even mourn the death of the old, ignorant Megyn. She’s yesterday’s news. Today’s Megyn is woke.
Or something. Kelly claimed, “Sometimes I talk and sometimes I listen—and yesterday I learned.” What did she learn? Never again to defend blackface, I guess. Within seconds, she said, “I have never been a P.C. kind of person, but I do understand the value in being sensitive to our history, particularly on race and ethnicity.” What do these words even mean to her? How is “P.C.,” in fact, not completely synonymous with “sensitive” in this context? Is she actually doubling down on reminding us that in not being a P.C. kind of person, she’s not ultimately interested in censoring her malformed opinions because... well why should she? They’ve gotten her this far. At the end of her 96-second monologue, her audience burst into applause and leapt to their feet. The cameras lingered on some enthusiastic black women in the crowd. “See?” the show told us. “Black people are cool with this.”
This isn’t the first time Megyn Kelly has showed us who she is, and yet it seems that some people still are having a hard time believing her. Or maybe her audience just appreciates that she’s an icon of white supremacy. Not understanding blackface and the legacy of minstrelsy is not a mere oversight; it is flagrance. We live in an age where most of the information you could ever think to want to know is at your fingertips. Factor in the privilege that would allow Megyn Kelly to pursue acquiring such information basically whenever she isn’t on air, and her ignorance in this matter starts to look like willful ignorance. Why wasn’t she curious about the fuss over blackface in all the time she’s been on this planet? Did she just think those who weren’t okay with it were just being dramatic? Just being stupid? Just being black?
Just read a fucking book every once in a while! This is a good one.
Like the email she sent to her colleagues yesterday, this apology is canned. No matter how much she means it, or thinks she does, it is primarily a tool to help a public figure regain her good standing. It is something worse than the type of insincere “political correctness” that Kelly wants to make sure you understand she disdains; it is pure, cynical politics.
Roland Martin and Amy Holmes, two prominent black thinkers, then joined Kelly for a roundtable discussion on blackface and race. Kelly responded to their paragraphs and paragraphs of information by saying things like, “Seeing a white person darken her skin even for a costume… today… evokes that past,” and asking questions like, “How do we talk about race and our country’s history with race and have a real conversation?” As Kelly sat there meek and remedial, I wondered how much she was actually absorbing, how much of what was presented she’d actually think about once the segment was over.
At one point, referencing yesterday’s discussion, Holmes told Kelly that she can’t dress like Diana Ross. Martin stepped in and correctively prescribed that Kelly could; he told her to put on a gown, grab a fan, and outfit herself with “big hair.” After yesterday’s Kendall Jenner controversy, it’s highly doubtful that Kelly could ever get away with attempting to pull off an iconic black hairstyle, but I wouldn’t at all be surprised if she tried and then got the opportunity to be so, so publicly sorry all over again.