The Astonishing Entitlement of Megyn Kelly
In an infamous episode of The Kelly File that ran a little under five years ago, Kelly made the adorably wrong and idiotic yet incredibly revealing assertion that Santa Claus, a fictional character created in no small part by the Coca-Cola bottling company to sell sugar water to children in the winter, and Jesus Christ, were both white, despite Jesus being a Middle-easterner and not, say, a dude from Boston.
Kelly said of Aisha Harris, a black writer who wrote an article in Slate arguing for a black Santa, "You know, I've given her her due. Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn't mean it has to change.”
This was, astonishingly, a hill that Kelly appeared ready, even willing to die on. She clearly saw herself as a crucial gate-keeper of culture rejecting, in as strong and unequivocal language as possible, the notion that a fictional character could and should be depicted as African-American if it made black children feel more seen and appreciated and understood.
Kelly took a strong stance and essentially said, “Fuck your feelings, black children or parents who might feel more represented and valued if ubiquitous cultural icons looked and acted a little bit more like you. There is only one truth about Santa, and that is that he is white, always has been white and always will be white.”
Incidentally, I had the surreal experience of writing about the world’s top Santa school a few years back and met a black Santa who was one of the sweetest, most lovable and Christmas-loving people I’ve ever met. On his behalf I just want to say, “FUCK you, Megyn Kelly and your racist, condescending bullshit.”
Kelly clearly saw African-American parents as wanting to appropriate and claim as their own something that she did not feel not feel belonged to them. She wasted no time informing the African-American community to keep their dirty hands off Santa and Jesus, and leave them in the control of white people who have so little and yet have given up so, so much.
Yes, Kelly was vigilant in a manner not unlike Barbecue Becky, Golfcart Gail and Apartment Patty and other infamous, viral white folks who attained instant notoriety for calling the cops on black people doing absolutely nothing wrong except inflaming their own racism.
Yet in an infamous recent episode of Megyn Kelly Today, Kelly pushed back against the more or less universally held, correct notion that blackface in Halloween costumes and any other context in 2018 is explicitly forbidden on account of being incredibly, egregiously, transparently racist. She insisted that when she was a kid blackface was just fine for Halloween and that a rich white woman slathering on black paint so that she could go as Diana Ross for Halloween was just a fun tribute to Diana Ross and not something that should be condemned for resurrecting the racial ugliness of the past for the sake of our racially ugly present.
So, in case you’re keeping score, black children and parents who pine for a black Santa Claus that might boost pride and self-esteem should be told that no, these characters are white and will always be white, but if a Real Housewives of New York cast-member wants to dress up like Diana Ross, a real person who is really black, then, in Kelly’s words, "she made her skin look darker than it really is and people said it was racist. And I don't know, I thought who doesn't love Diana Ross? She wanted to look like Diana Ross for one day.”
Kelly had to walk back her comments almost immediately. We have boundaries that can’t really be transgressed without serious consequences and one of them is that blackface for rich white people is never acceptable.
But I’m more struck that Kelly, an ostensible JOURNALIST, thought it was acceptable, even intelligent, to ask “Why isn’t blackface acceptable? It’s just fun for white people. Why can’t we have our fun?” in 2018. For her, a rich white woman’s power to behave however they like was more important than African-Americans’ need to not feel humiliated, mocked and disrespected.
For Kelly, African-Americans should make do with what white culture deigns to give them but white people should feel entitled to take from other cultures whatever they want. If African-Americans object, well, maybe they need to develop thicker skin and stop being so “politically correct” about everything. You know, the kind of thick skin that makes you freak about coffee cups without the word “Christmas” on them and black Santas, seeing them as assaults on the very foundation of Western Civilization, which spending a shit-ton of money on Christmas shit we don’t need.
Kelly’s apology doesn’t matter, only comments that provide all too vivid a picture of the mindset of someone so oblivious about how racism works, both personally and institutionally, that they’re willing to go to bat for a form of personal expression that is rightly synonymous with poisonous, insidious anti-black bigotry.
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