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“White People Don’t Get to Decide What’s Racist”: Amber Ruffin Explains to Megyn Kelly Why Blackface Is Racist

The internet watched as Megyn Kelly just learned that blackface isn’t ok, as Kelly apologized for hosting a panel where she insisted that darkening one’s skin for a Halloween costume isn’t racist. Kelly’s panel was a talking point on Late Night with Seth Meyers, where Meyers begins by saying, “Now, commenting on the racially charged issue of blackface is not something I’m comfortable doing.” Fortunately, Amber Ruffin pops up to proclaim, “But I am!”

The comedian begins by bringing up Kelly’s general track record with defending things. “First of all, I heard about this and when I went to watch it, I started typing in ‘Megyn Kelly defends blackface'”, she says. “It auto-fills ‘Megyn Kelly defends Brett Kavanaugh’, so I know no matter what, I was about to watch a terrible video. And I was right!”

Ruffin continues, “Megyn said, ‘I don’t know how blackface is racist on Halloween.'”

“It’s not racist on Halloween. It’s racist every day,” she explains. “There is no magical day where you can wear blackface with no repercussions—unless all your friends are white, and I’m guessing all of Megyn Kelly’s friends are white.”

She doesn’t just take Kelly’s comments to task however, as she points out that Kelly made the decision to gather a bunch of white people to talk about blackface and racism on Halloween. “How are you gonna have a bunch of white people sit together and figure out what’s racist? White people don’t get to decide what’s racist. If I punch you, I don’t decide if it hurts or not—you do. And it won’t because I’m not punching no white lady because I don’t want to go to jail.”

The segment swings between hilarity and earnestness in a way that Ruffin has absolutely mastered, and which makes her one of my favorite television figures these days. “Look, Megyn Kelly asked a question, and here’s the answer: blackface is racist because it turns black people into a costume and divorces them from their humanity. We’re people, not costumes. But more importantly, it ignores the severely racist context in which blackface was introduced to this country and actions don’t exist separate from their context.”

And yes, I did GIF her exit:

(image: screencap)

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