"What is racist? Because you do get in trouble if you're a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween," Kelly said, posing a question that should probably be self-evident. "When I was a kid, that was OK, as long you were dressing up as, like, a character." She proceeded to go on a rant about how a white woman darkening her skin to dress up as Diana Ross should be totally chill. Apparently, Kelly's never seen Noisey's ever-helpful Halloween blackface chart.
The backlash was suitably swift. Kelly sent out an apologetic email to staffers a few hours later, acknowledging that the "history of blackface in our country is abhorrent"—but according to some of her coworkers, one email is far from enough.
"Look, the fact is, while she apologized to the staff, she owes a bigger apology to folks of color around the country," TODAY's Al Roker said on Wednesday's show, according to BuzzFeed News. "Because this is a history going back to the 1830s minstrel shows to demean and denigrate a race—it wasn't right."
"There was some criticism yesterday online that this was political correctness run amok," TODAY news anchor Craig Melvin added. "That's silly and it's disingenuous and it's just as ignorant and racist as the statement itself." He went on to call Kelly's comments "stupid" and "indefensible."
Apparently Kelly heard them, because she opened her show Wednesday with an apology:
"Thank you for listening and for helping me listen too," she said, before inviting on guests Roland Martin and Amy Holmes to explain that there's, uh, a pretty big difference between "dressing up as a character with clothing" and "racial mockery."
Kelly appeared pretty emotional and apologetic throughout the Wednesday morning segment, but this is the same woman who once thought it was important to remind children that Santa Claus and Jesus are both white—so, you know, take this all as you will.
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