A fun holiday where you’re usually allowed to creatively express yourself without any restrictions. Except of course if you want to dress up as a Black entertainer, or historical figure.
On Tuesday, NBC News host Megyn Kelly held a roundtable discussion where she literally seemed shocked that a university put a mandate on its students to refrain from dressing up in offensive costumes this year. Some of the warned against costumes included dressing up as a nun and a cowboy, just to name a few.
But when dressing up as a Native American was mentioned, Kelly began to meltdown. “You can’t dress up as a Native American, that’s apparently been some rule for a long time,” she said. “It’s like, isn’t the whole purpose of Halloween, to dress up and pretend you’re something other than yourself?”
This is when I knew the topic of dressing up as a Black person would be challenged next.
After her guest, MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboorff, mentioned that racist costumes deserve to be called out, Kelly went full rogue.
“But what is racist because truly you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on Blackface for Halloween, or a Black person who puts on white face for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was OK as long as you were dressing up as a character,” she said.
Soboroff, Melissa Rivers and even Jenna Bush, did their best to explain to Kelly why Blackface shouldn’t be stomached, but Kelly wasn’t done.
Kelly then brought up Real Housewives of New York cast member Luann de Lesseps, who dressed up in Blackface as Diana Ross for Halloween last year as her shining example of when people overreact.
De Lesseps has since apologized for her costume and denied using any material to make her skin darker–so this example is somewhat null and void and honestly I don’t see any semblance of Diana Ross when I look at that photo.
But what does exist are numerous photos of white college students dressing up as gang members and entertainers putting on their latest and greatest “thug” impersonation. It’s rare to see those same students honoring the rich legacy of Black people, to dress up as W.E.B. Du Bois or Ida B. Wells, or anyone who has contributed to American history as a Black person.
“I can’t believe the number of people we’re offending just by being normal people,” Kelly said at the close.
As far as Blackface is concerned and the historical context of why it’s offensive, the National Museum of African American History & Culture has a great exhibit which explains how the medium propelled negative stereotypes of Black life and culture. Kelly girl, please visit the museum or click the link. With all the technology that exists to educate and alleviate ignorance, it pains me that I still have to do this work for you.
To put it plain, when you lather up your white skin with Black or brown paint, you’re making a mockery of my struggle as a Black person living in present day America, and you damn sure are offending my ancestors. It’s no longer sufficient for Black people to know their history if other citizens who do not identify as Black refuse to take part in the same education.
Kelly belongs to the groups of white people who tell Black people and people of color that they’re too sensitive and need to lighten up, while those same Black people are also told to be quiet when Black culture is being appropriated or undermined.
Of all the matters at hand, this is what Kelly has decided to ride her horse into the sunset on instead of addressing actual topics that matter today. And this is who was given a platform over Tamron Hall? Lordt.
There’s wrong with dressing up as a Black entertainer or historical figure you admire, but you don’t have to make a parody of my existence to do so.