“Today” host Megyn Kelly kicked off her segment on Wednesday with an apology.
“I want to open with two words: I’m sorry,” she said. Kelly then invited Roland Martin and Amy Holmes, co-host of PBS’ “In Principle”, to discuss the history of blackface and why it’s offensive. Kelly seldom spoke, leaving the meat of the conversation to her guests.
The host experienced public wrath on Tuesday after she suggested blackface may not be all that racist when used on Halloween.
“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,” the anchor thought out loud during a panel. “Back when I was a kid, that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as a character.”
Kelly, 47, later apologized to her staff in an email but Al Roker thinks she still has a lot of apologizing left to do.
“The fact is, while she apologized to the staff, she owes a bigger apology to folks of colour ’round the country,” Roker said Wednesday. “This is a history going back to the 1830s minstrel shows to demean and denigrate a race. It wasn’t right.
“I’m old enough to know, I have lived through ‘Amos ‘n’ Andy’, where you had white people in blackface playing two black characters, just magnifying the worst stereotypes about black men — and that’s what the problem is,” he continued. “That’s what the issue is.”
Roker is not the only “Today” personality to react to Kelly’s statements. “There was some criticism yesterday online that this was political correctness run amok. That’s silly. It’s disingenuous and it’s just as ignorant and racist as the statement itself,” Craig Melvin said. “In addition to her being a colleague, she’s a friend.
“She said something stupid. she said something indefensible. A lot of folks don’t realize that Jim Crow is shorthand for the racist laws that have existed in this country for much of the last century, especially in the deep South; they termed Jim Crow from a minstrel show in the 1830s,” he explained. “I guess it was an opportunity for us to learn a little bit more about blackface — but I think a lot of people knew about blackface.”
Morgan Radford chimed in, “We now have the courage and we have the platform to have conversations like this, even when they’re uncomfortable, because we can see they’re still necessary.”
This is not the first time Kelly has been accused of making racist remarks. NBC News revealed on Tuesday that Kelly had once disputed the idea that having a white Santa or white Jesus was racist.