U.S. journalist Megyn Kelly got fired after she made comments on air that appeared to condone the use of blackface in Halloween costumes, a major backlash ensued, and she lost her NBC talk show.

The problematic custom dates back to about 1830, and so-called “minstrel shows”—white performers caked their faces in greasepaint or shoe polish and drew on exaggerated lips in a caricature of blacks.

David Leonard.
David Leonard

“Blackface was used to depict African Americans as not human, to justify and normalize and sanction violence,” David Leonard, a professor at Washington State University who has written extensively on the subject, told Agence France Presse.

“The history of blackface is one of violence, one of demonization, one of racism,” Leonard said.

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