Students enrolled at Megyn Kelly’s old high school penned an opinion piece for NBC News, calling her out Sunday for the comments she made about blackface being “OK” back when she was a kid.
“Those comments definitely do not speak to who we are in Bethlehem or at Bethlehem Central High School, from which she graduated in 1988,” wrote members of the upstate school’s Students for Peace and Survival group.
“Blackface is not acceptable anywhere in America, and it is not acceptable in our town,” the students said. “We weren’t alive when Megyn was in high school but, in the recollection of many of our parents who grew up around here, it was not acceptable even in the 1980s town that she knew.”
Kelly, 47, came under fire last week following an on-air discussion on her NBC show “Megyn Kelly Today” about Halloween costumes.
“You do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween, or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween,” she said. “Back when I was a kid, that was OK just as long as you were dressing as a character.”
Kelly got her show cancelled on Friday after the comments caused an uproar on social media.
The Bethlehem students on Sunday pointed out how minstrel shows — featuring white people in blackface — were performed throughout the area “as late as 1960.”
“Our local newspaper’s records show that minstrel shows were performed as fundraisers in our elementary school gym,” they explained. “Perhaps its staying power even in the northeastern United States despite its obvious bigotry speaks to the pernicious role that blackface played and still plays in broadly normalizing racist caricatures. Jim Crow, after all, was a blackface character long before he was shorthand for systematic oppression.”
In the end, the students said they hope Kelly uses her journalism skills to “make a real difference and bring ‘more understanding, love, sensitivity and honor’ to these issues in the future, as she promised in her apology to do.”
“There is often an idea today that young people like us are apathetic, brainwashed into certain ideals by those above us and too disengaged to make a difference. Nothing could be further from the truth,” they wrote in closing. “We’re speaking for ourselves here, as our own small part in the conversation America needs to have. If there’s one thing about our generation, it’s that we do not accept the status quo. Perhaps it’s naïveté, but in a society still bearing the scars of the times of blackface, a little bit of the innocence of hope might be necessary.”
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