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Late Night's Amber Ruffin sighs, explains to Megyn Kelly that, yes, Halloween blackface sucks

Amber Ruffin, Seth Meyers
Screenshot: Late Night With Seth Meyers

Ever since NBC lured inveterate race-baiter and staunch defender of Santa Claus’ inviolable pinkness Megyn Kelly to its airwaves, the erstwhile Fox News personality has been unsuccessfully attempting to shoehorn herself into the role of someone who doesn’t suck. From lobbing softballs to racist lunatic conspiracy theorist Alex Jones , to getting played by Vladimir Putin, to joining in on the smear campaign against Christine Blasey Ford after she accused now-Supreme Court judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her, to plain getting smacked down by a deeply unimpressed Jane Fonda, Kelly has routinely caused her new NBC bosses buyer’s remorse. (Her lousy ratings don’t help.) But the person who infamously once shamed a police-assaulted black teenager for daring to go to a pool party in a white neighborhood and called pepper spray deployed on a group of peaceful protesters “a food product” outdid even herself on her Tuesday show when she—alongside a trio of other incredulously nodding white folks—claimed that black people were just being so touchy about blackface.

Well, on Tuesday’s Late Show, Seth Meyers dodged a similar NBC scandal by rightly saying that he—a white guy from New Hampshire—probably isn’t in the best position to judge whether black people should be pissed off at their cultural identity being slathered onto pasty skin by giggling white people. One person who was in that position—popping up into frame with characteristic ebullient, smiling wit—was Late Night writer Amber Ruffin, who swooped in to take this one. Rebuking Kelly for her claim that black people are being too darn PC about the whole blackface thing (even on Halloween!), Ruffin sighed deeply to enter a state of calm and explained that “there is no magical day when you can wear blackface with no repercussions—unless all of your friends are white.” (Or, you know, everyone on your hand-selected panel of “experts.”)


Going on to run down the long and hurtful history white people painting themselves up to mock black people, Ruffin patiently explained to Kelly, “Blackface is racist because it turns black people into a costume and divorces them from their humanity. We’re people, not costumes.” Ruffin noted that Kelly has been forced to apologize after a multitude of people who don’t need to be refreshed on the whole “being a decent human being” thing called out her most recent white nonsense, and suggested that, crazily, having a few black people on her show might help with that. Even though, as Ruffin said, she “shouldn’t need a black panelist to explain to you shit you should have figured out 57 years ago.” (Kelly is actually, as Ruffin admitted, only 47, but Ruffin seemed to be having fun.)

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About the author

Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.