10/26: Everything wrong with Megyn Kelly’s exit from NBC

On Tuesday, Megyn Kelly hosted a segment for the 9am hour of NBC’s “Today” on how acceptable is “blackface” for halloween costumes with an all white panel.  After receiving extended criticism, Kelly corrected the matter by apologizing and inviting Host of “Roland Martin Unfiltered” Roland Martin and PBS Host of “In Principle” Amy Holmes on Wednesday’s show to provide more context into the historically known racial practice. By Thursday, Megyn Kelly’s show is cancelled and NBC will pay out her $69 million contract.

There’s a lot here so we’ll just take it one at a time.

  1. Tuesday’s all white panel:

It is dismissive and inappropriate to have a discussion about a nuanced topic that disproportionately affects the Black community without any Black voices present to speak truth to power. It evacuates Black people from a conversation pertinent to us and that, apparently, is only accessible to white people to continue to caricaturize. This is a great example of writing Black people out of our own stories, the very racist ones that white people force onto us in the first place. We never asked them to paint themselves Black, or paste the clay-like substance on us for that matter, yet the idea that race can be worn as a costume… as a decoration that revels in the splendor of melanin for the moment, only to be washed away without any fear of being gunned down by the police in their own apartments.

Secondly, who on earth is the booking team for Megyn Kelly? Clearly there isn’t at least one Black person (or one who is actually consulted) because scheduling an all-white cast is an extreme oversight that is easily avoidable with at least one, listened to Black worker. It’s common sense to think, “okay, we’re talking about Black people, maybe we should have a Black guest.” There are well qualified Black commentators, reporters, booking producers, etc out there, but apparently to ask for one is too much to expect. This disparity points to a larger trend of the number of Black folks in decision-making positions of journalism and how the media industry is white men and white women first, and then everyone else.

  1.   Wednesday’s apology:

It’s difficult to believe that a mere 24 hours later, a deeply held position can be changed *snaps fingers* just like that. It’s wordy and exaggerated with pauses and drawn out words for emphasis that creates a performance out of the apology. As if the delivery and the perceived heartfeltness is more important than an actual change of ideology. And for Megyn Kelly specifically, and honestly anyone with a history of being racially insensitive, one day simply is not enough to undo, attone, and be renewed from viley outrageous comments said during her stint at Fox news, let alone for this.

Also, this trend of saying and supporting racial agendas and later apologizing is out of date and I’m tired. Papa John’s founder John Schnatter, Roseanne Barr and now Megyn Kelly have made outlandish remarks, apologized and been removed from their positions only for the root of the problem to continue to be perpetuated (aka racism). Megyn repeatedly said, “I’ve learned” and “I’m listening,” as though she should get a gold star for human decency. It is irrelevant how open her, or anyone else’s, ears may be or how moving of an apology she can deliver. If behavioral changes and postures towards the Black community are not made, there is zero reason to believe or accept the apology. Again, it’s only been a couple of days so it’s hard to measure any possible growth, but if someone (@Megyn) wanted to put her money where her mouth is, she could sponsor and attend racial sensitivity trainings across the country.

Oh, but then her Fox buddies would know that she’s serious and we just can’t have that.

  1. Hauling in the clean-up crew known as Roland Martin and Amy Holmes for Wednesday’s show:

Perhaps if they, or another Black journalist, had been included in the original conversation, it’s course would’ve gone differently. But aside from an “I told you so” to number 1, Martin and Holmes laid out the history and context for why “blackface” will forever be considered a racist practice. Megyn, as she said numerous times during her apology, “listened” during the conversation and nodded thoughtfully while Martin and Holmes spearheaded talking points and the direction of the discussion. Both Megyn and the audience seemed grateful, however the whole bit plays into the trope of Mammy: Black folks always taking care of white people. The “come sit on my lap and I’ll fix all of your problems,” archetype adds to the misunderstanding that it is the Black community’s job to re-live and explain our historical trauma and longsuffering in order to try and teach white people until it’s translated into something that they can grapple with and relate to. It’s the disturbing comfort that white people have with summoning Black voices, when they so please, to speak on follow-up panels that should’ve warranted their invite in the first place.

This is an issue of the disposability of Black people by sheer convenience and the subsequent ability to, all of a sudden, have a bestowed necessity to include them in the conversation to cover one’s wrongdoings. In practice, this power dynamic represents the lack of respect the Black community receives until white people need us to make themselves feel better about saying or supporting a racial slur and “learning” how to grow from it.

For the sake of clarity, recall the position that this one, isolated situation has put the Black community in: First, we weren’t hired or invited to be on the show and comment about an issue impacting the Black community, only for an all-white panel to, big surprise, discuss and support “blackface” when it’s for halloween costumes. The following outrage is the *only* reason why Martin and Holmes are invited on Wednesday’s show. Otherwise, no one would’ve seen anything wrong with the normalized racist world that currently thrives. Martin and Holmes, of course, bring the heat and do their jobs well, which permeates with vibes of Mammy and coddling a “very sorry” Kelly because she didn’t know any better.

And this is only one incident. This outline can be applied to parking lot disputes, hiring and firing practices, the criminal justice system, discipline in schools, the current “controversy” around kneeling for the anthem, etc.

  1. Megyn Kelly Today is cancelled and, reportedly, NBC plans to pay out Kelly’s $69 million contract:

She is literally being paid, in advance, for currently being racially insensitive. However, Kelly’s show was already down the gutter and she and the network were in talks about ending it by the end of the year. This incident only accelerated that process. And while I’m glad there are consequences to racism, as there should be, how much does her empty anchor seat really mean? There are still other anchors who share similar, if not more disparaging thoughts, who have air time at networks across the country. And Kelly will land another job at some point. And in however long, there will be another incident of racial remarks. And they too will apologize. And… and… and….

So again I say, “I am tired.” And I think analogous words can be said for the entire Black community as well. Frustration levels have peaked, in part because of the current political climate, and also given that the 50 anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination seems to have brought the same amount of racial tension that existed in 1968, if not more. Megyn Kelly has only proven this reinvigoration and the need for the country to have a moment of introspection to take inventory of just where are we right now.

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