Blackface, as an aspect of art, grew in popularity in the 19th century as a tactic non-black performers would use in order to portray an African American.
Blackface minstrel shows hit the spotlight in New York City in the 1830’s for the sole purpose of mimicking African slaves during performances.
“Blackface was a part of early minstrel shows, which created and perpetuated racist stereotypes about African Americans,” said Lily Sloan, a TCU dance instructor and professor. “It’s style, in terms of dance, is part of a lineage that includes Tap dance and American Musical Theatre.”
Kelly mentioned blackface as an appropriate tactic for Halloween costumes, saying it was acceptable when she was a kid as long as it was for a costume.
According to an NBC News article, Kelly’s hometown high school disagrees.
“Those comments definitely do not speak to who we are in Bethlehem or at Bethlehem Central High School, from which she graduated in 1988,” said students in a press release for Peace and Survival at Bethlehem Central High School.
This wasn’t the first time blackface has been condoned by other celebrities. Julianne Hough, Kylie Jenner and Sarah Silverman are just a few who have also publicly displayed themselves with a blackface.
“I think blackface and the topic of using it as a costume is wrong. Yes, Halloween is a time for dressing up, but not an excuse to be offensive,” said Samantha Turco, a junior strategic communication major.
Kelly released an apology on her show, Megyn Kelly Today, the following morning. “I defended the idea [of blackface], saying that as long it was respectful and part of a Halloween costume, that it seemed OK. Well, I was wrong, and I am sorry.”
Although many were thankful for her apology and recognition of wrongdoing, the damage had already been done.
“It seems ridiculous that an educated and successful journalist could be so ignorant to just “not get” the racist history of blackface in American culture. I have higher expectations of our upcoming generations of budding journalists,” said Sloan.
in response to the actions, Megyn Kelly Today has been canceled.