NBC “Today” host Megyn Kelly is under fire for defending wearing “blackface” costumes on Halloween Tuesday.
The former Fox News host brought up blackface during a segment and asked, “What is racist?”
"You do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface in Halloween or a black person who puts on white face for Halloween. Like, back when I was a kid, that was OK as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character,” Kelly insisted.
She went on to defend a reality show star who made her skin darker to dress up like Diana Ross.
"Some people said that was racist," she said. "I felt like, who doesn't love Diana Ross? She wants to look like Diana Ross for one day, and I don't know how that got racist on Halloween."
Kelly apologized for her comments on Wednesday.
"I want to begin with two words: I'm sorry," she said. “That conversation turned to whether it is ever OK for a person of one race to dress up as another -- a black person making their face lighter or a white person making theirs darker to make a costume complete," she continued. "I defended the idea, saying that as long it was respectful and part of a Halloween costume, it seemed OK. Well, I was wrong and I am sorry."
NBC Colleagues Condemn:
Fellow “Today” co-host Al Roker demanded Kelly apologize live on the air shortly before her emotional mea culpa.
"The fact is, while she apologized to the staff, she owes a bigger apology to folks of color around the country," he said. "This is a history going back to the 1830s. Minstrel shows to demean and denigrate a race wasn’t right. I'm old enough to have lived through 'Amos 'n' Andy,' where you had white people in blackface playing two black characters, just magnifying the worst stereotypes about black people -- and that's what the problem is and that's what the issue is."
Craig Melvin, another “Today” co-host, said people calling the backlash “political correctness run amok” were “just as ignorant and racist as the statement itself."
Melvin said Kelly was a friend but admitted she “said something stupid” and “indefensible.”
A number of social media users are trying to organize a boycott of Kelly's show.
Kelly Says She's Just 'Not a 'PC' Person':
Though she issued an emotional apology, Kelly said she made the comment because “I have never been a 'PC' kind of person.”
“But I do understand the value in being sensitive to our history, particularly on race and ethnicity," she said. "This past year has been so painful for many people of color."
"The country feels so divided, and I have no wish to add to that pain and offense," she added. "I believe this is a time for more understanding, more love, more sensitivity and honor, and I want to be part of that."