BY JEANETTE LENOIR
“Another one bites the dust,” as the saying goes and NBC Today host Megyn Kelly just bit a mouthful of it. Her comments dismissing the racist undertones of wearing blackface was just too much for her new NBC family to take, leading to her show “Megyn Kelly Today” being cancelled. This isn’t Kelly’s first time dancing with racist based controversy though. Kelly’s attitude, hostile political and social views she hotly defended during her time at Fox News has always been transparent to those it was aimed at; minorities. It’s always been hard for Kelly to see this demographic from her white privilege perch. She proudly chastised those she disagreed with politically and socially—regularly—on Fox News Channel alongside fellow haters; Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Carlson Tucker. America, including NBC, know who Megyn Kelly is; a staunch conservative with audacious white supremacist leaning views.
Kelly, on her all knowing perch, claimed Santa Clause and even Jesus Christ from the Middle East are white, and going even further by making the distinction that, “some people want Santa Clause to be black but he’s just not, OK kids,” she says looking straight into the camera as if sending comfort to all the frightened white children in America concerned a black Santa could come down their chimney on Christmas. Kelly publicly shamed Jane Fonda after an uncomfortable appearance on her show about plastic surgery by reaching so far back to her “Hanoi Jane” days to clap back at her for taking issue with her aggressive questions. It was, simply put; mean, petty and highly unprofessional. Kelly got to enjoy her privilege wholeheartedly in this gross display of bad behavior. NBC didn’t bad an eye. Can you imagine if Tamron Hall did that? And remember feisty Soledad O’Brien? She lost her CNN show real quick the minute she got comfortable in her power. The difference in how one is treated or “handled” is clear and has been since America’s birth. Kelly also validated hateful conspiracy theorist Alex Jones by giving him a comfy seat on her perch despite the outcry from his victims, particularly the grieving parents of the Sandy Hook massacre. Her unapologetic mean spirited conduct is used to gain the upper hand in ratings despite the damaging effects her rhetoric has on the collective culture. This is what white privilege looks and feels like.
“But was it racist?” Kelly asked feigning ignorance about Real House Wives of New York’s Luann de Lesseps wearing blackface with her Dianna Ross costume during the segment that got her show canceled. Yes, it was racist Megyn. Exactly as Roland Martin pointed out to you here in this clip. Nevertheless, the birth of blackface is merely a node on America’s black body dehumanizing highway. I’m always led back to one of the most prolific orator of our times, James Baldwin, when it comes to race relations in America. You see Megyn, Baldwin left America for France with only $40 in his pocket because as he puts it, “…nothing worse could happen to me there that hadn’t already happened to me here.” He was talking about social terror. The social terror he endured from his own country by people just like you who don’t care to see the racism and inequality dividing and defining our country … because it benefits you. Wearing blackface is stoking the same social terrors Baldwin talked about. And that’s exactly what you’ve done for years.
Kelly benefits from the social institutions that still keep blacks and other minorities subservient to whites. History, including NBC’s selection of “Fox News Kelly” over their own internal employee, Hall, supports this assertion. And Kelly has defended this privilege all while blaming black victims of police brutality like Philando Castile and Michael Brown of their own murders. NBC knew this when they chose her over Hall. It’s difficult to have it both ways peacock; hiring a person who clearly embraces hostile social views dipped in intolerance, and then feigning shock when the person performs accordingly. It’s like buying a pet snake and expecting it not to bite you because you feed it.
Powerful institutions like NBC have a fine line to walk when it comes to these hotly debated and sensitive national issues. When it comes to Megyn Kelly, the network brought fire and water to the larger debate on race relations; they added fire when they hired Kelly and are using water to try and save face today. One can only hope that the network heeds the words from one of its own employees, NABJ President, Sarah Glover in her statement addressing the matter, “Megyn Kelly’s flip comments on blackface were inexcusable. It is imperative that media organizations work to maintain the trust of audiences. The media industry has the power to inform, and an awesome responsibility to dispel ignorance and not encourage it.” How the media embraces this awesome responsibility as we progress into an uncertain future with a degenerate leader at the helm will be determined by their stakeholders. Let’s hope they care enough about advancing the idealism of America and our collective humanity Today.