Jimmy Fallon is speaking out in a video after facing scrutiny over an SNL skit in which he wore blackface.
This Monday, Fallon returned to “The Tonight Show” and prefaced his next statements by saying it will be “a different kind of show” in the midst of the current protests over the killing of George Floyd. But before he began discussing the protests, police brutality, and other topics, he said that he wanted to address his recent backlash. Fallon said he wanted to “start personally and expand out” because “that’s where we need to start, with ourselves and looking at ourselves in the mirror.”
“I had to really examine myself in the mirror this week because a story came out about me on SNL doing an impression of Chris Rock in blackface,” the 45-year-old said. “And I was horrified. Not of people trying to cancel me or cancel this show, which is scary enough. But the thing that haunted me the most was, ‘How do I say I love this person?’” He continued, “I respect this guy more than I respect most humans,’” he said, referring to Chris Rock, who he was mocking in blackface in the Saturday Night Live skit. “‘I’m not a racist. I don’t feel this way.’”
During the video, Fallon mentioned that he was advised to stay quiet, and for some time, he decided to take that advice. “That’s the advice…because we’re all afraid.” Fallon also highlighted that the backlash could have cost him his show, which he referred to as also “scary.” “I realized that the silence is the biggest crime that white guys like me, and the rest of us are doing, staying silent. We need to say something. We need to keep saying something. And we need to stop saying ‘That’s not OK’ more than just one day on Twitter,” he said. He went on: “We cannot try to bury this again. It’s not going to get buried, it’s not going away,” he said. “You can’t just hope everyone loves each other. We can’t say ‘be the change’ and just sit around tweeting ‘be the change, be the change.’”
During his message, Fallon said he will be bringing on different Black figures to open up the discussion about racism and how the world can help move the message and movement forward. One of Fallon’s guests was NAACP President Derrick Johnson, who supported Fallon’s response. “In this time, many people are searching for answers and display of anger and hopelessness and wandering, more people need to speak about where they are with an authentic voice,” Johnson said. “I think you did that.” CNN anchor Don Lemon also appeared on the show and said it’s time to stop “making excuses for racism.” “We can’t go back to the way we were before,” Lemon said. “This is a time for us to change. I appreciate you for stepping up and being a leader.”
This is Fallon’s second time speaking out about the insensitive SNL skit. Last week, Fallon issued a written apology statement. “In 2000, while on SNL, I made a terrible decision to do an impersonation of Chris Rock while in blackface. There is no excuse for this. I am very sorry for making this unquestionably offensive decision and thank all of you for holding me accountable.”