A Better Conversation Than The One About Whether Megyn Kelly Is A 'Racist'

01/04/2017 02:46 am ET Updated Jan 05, 2017

Cartoon credit: Rob Tornoe

My Facebook feed suggests that progressives are launching into a conversation about whether Megyn Kelly is a “racist” or not. ‘

Please folks, let’s not do that.

What a waste of time that would be! I do not want to hear anything from her or her colleagues about how many racist bones her body does not have. Plus, I stand with the great hip-hop sage Jay Smooth, who says that we should avoid the “who you are” conversation about racism, and stick to the “what you did” conversation. (Click here for his three-minute video that you will cherish forever).

In any case, because so many white folks freak out when you label anything “racist”, we need some alternative language. Why? So we can have a real interrogation of what real-world actions keep racial hierarchies in place, and not just get mired in emotions and defensiveness about which people are inherently innocent or guilty.

The conversation that progressives – maybe sometimes actually with conservatives - should have is “When, if any time, has Megyn Kelly created media content that is racially problematic?

Here are two definitions that are humbly offered in hopes that they hold muster among critical race theorists and perhaps even with fair-minded conservatives who think racism is a real social phenomenon that sometimes exists.

· Racially problematic (or if you insist, racist) media content – content that builds on partial or biased information, stereotypes, falsehoods and/or myths in a way that tends to support distorted perceptions that put one racial group at a disadvantage relative to others.

· Racially problematic media creator – an entity that, looking at its body of work, tends to reinforce the societal problem of racially stereotyped images and/or racially disparate views between the racial populations who view the content.

Perhaps Kelly’s network hopping and the impending media blitz about her NBC debuts (three different shows? You go, girl!) can usher in a long-overdue cross-ideological discussion about racism in media. It’s time to examine what are the criteria that fair-minded folks can use to decide what media content are helping the nation have a productive and deeper dialogue and which are doing the opposite. We should press Kelly, her future bosses, her new colleagues, and her conservative fans on the question of whether she has a pattern of creating content that, to me, is clearly racially problematic.

Like the time she reassured the kids that Santa was white.

Maybe these and the other incidents she is being excoriated for were all a pander to the 92% white Fox News audience. Or maybe she actually sees the world this way, and NBC plans a ratings boost by having her mix it up with the likes of Rachel Maddow and Joy Reid. How fun!

Whichever….but let’t make sure we don’t get distracted by a conversation about whether she is a racist or not. Our conversations about racism – in media and elsewhere - need to not be about who people are, but rather about what their actions do.

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