Seth Meyers and Amber Ruffin Criticize Megyn Kelly's Blackface Comments

Seth Meyers and Amber Ruffin -Split-Screen shot-H 2018
Courtesy of Late Night with Seth Meyers

Seth Meyers and Amber Ruffin addressed the controversy following Megyn Kelly's comments about blackface on Tuesday's episode of Late Night.

Earlier that day, the Megyn Kelly Today host defended wearing blackface for Halloween costumes, claiming it used to be acceptable.

"But, what is racist?" she said. "Because truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface at Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was OK as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character."

The comments led to intense backlash on social media. Kelly apologized to her colleagues later that afternoon and again on Wednesday's episode of her NBC show.

"I want to begin with two words: I’m sorry," she said. I was wrong and I am sorry. One of the great parts of sitting in this chair is getting to discuss different points of view. Sometimes I talk and sometimes I listen, and yesterday I learned. I learned given the history of blackface being used in awful ways by racists in this country, it is not OK for that to be part of any costume, Halloween or otherwise."

Meyers criticized his NBC colleague's argument that blackface is acceptable because she grew up with it. "Wow, say what you want about Megyn Kelly, but she looks great for being 200 years old," he said.

Later in the episode, Meyers shared a clip from the blackface conversation on Kelly's show before he explained that he doesn't feel comfortable discussing the issue of blackface. Writer Amber Ruffin then made her way to the stage to comment on the controversy.

"First of all, I heard about this and when I went to watch it, I started typing in 'Megyn Kelly defends blackface.' It autofilled 'Megyn Kelly defends Brett Kavanaugh,' so I knew no matter what, I was about to watch a terrible video," Ruffin began.

The writer commented on Kelly's comments that blackface isn't racist on Halloween. "It's not racist on Halloween. It's racist every day," she corrected. "There is no magical day where you can wear blackface with no repercussions. Unless all of your friends are white. And I'm guessing all of Megyn Kelly's friends are white."

Ruffin then pointed out that the panel featured on Kelly's show to discuss the topic was all white. "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," she said. "If I punch you, I don't get to 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."

She also addressed Kelly's comments that blackface wasn't racist when she was growing up. "You're 47. Racism wasn't invented 40 years ago," she said.

"You may think the meanest thing I can do is call Megyn Kelly's words racist, but really, the meanest thing I did was tell everyone she's 47, which, if you round up, is 50," said Ruffin. She then continued to round up Kelly's age.

"Blackface is racist because it turns black people into a costume and divorces them from their humanity. We're people. Not costumes," she explained. "But more importantly, it ignores the severely racist context in which blackface was introduced into this country and actions don't exist separate from their context." Ruffin then heavily sighed.

She added that Kelly wouldn't have had to apologize for the comments if a black person had been invited into the conversation from the beginning. "But honestly, you shouldn't need a black panelist to explain to you s— you should have figured out 57 years ago," she said.

"For someone with a morning show, Megyn Kelly, you sure are late as hell," she concluded.