Jimmy Kimmel has apologized for his blackface impersonation of NBA star Karl Malone and said that he has “evolved” and “matured” since it first aired.
Kimmel appeared in blackface in a sketch on Comedy Central’s The Man Show in a sketch where he impersonated the NBA star Malone. The Man Show was hosted by Kimmel and Adam Carolla between 1999 and 2003.
“I have long been reluctant to address this, as I knew doing so would be celebrated as a victory by those who equate apologies with weakness and cheer for leaders who use prejudice to divide us. That delay was a mistake. There is nothing more important to me than your respect, and I apologize to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke.”
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“On KROQ radio in the mid-90s, I did a recurring impression of the NBA player Karl Malone. In the late 90s, I continued impersonating Malone on TV. We hired makeup artists to make me look as much like Karl Malone as possible. I never considered that this might be seen as anything other than an imitation of a fellow human being, one that had no more to do with Karl’s skin color than it did his bulging muscles and bald head. I’ve done dozens of impressions of famous people, including Snoop Dogg, Oprah, Eminem, Dick Vitale, Rosie, and many others. In each case, I thought of them as impersonations of celebrities and nothing more. Looking back, many of these sketches are embarrassing, and it is frustrating that these thoughtless moments have become a weapon used by some to diminish my criticisms of social and other injustices,” he added.
“I believe that I have evolved and matured over the last twenty-plus years, and I hope that is evident to anyone who watches my show. I know that this will not be the last I hear of this and that it will be used again to try to quiet me. I love this country too much to allow that. I won’t be bullied into silence by those who feign outrage to advance their oppressive and genuinely racist agendas.
This comes after Kimmel announced that he was taking the summer off to “spend even more time” with his family. The late-night host said that his break had nothing to do with the increased online chatter about his past comedy work.
“My summer vacation has been planned for more than a year and includes the next two summers off as well. I will be back to work in September. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to explain and to those I’ve disappointed, I am sorry.”
Last week, Kimmel was also announced as the host and exec producer of the 72nd Emmy Awards.
Kimmel’s apology is the latest in late-night after Jimmy Fallon, host of NBC’s The Tonight Show, made a similar mea culpa about appearing in blackface to impersonate SNL alum Chris Rock on the NBC comedy.
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