Jimmy Kimmel is apologizing for wearing blackface to perform an impression of Black celebrities, most infamously Karl Malone.
On Tuesday, Jimmy Kimmel Live! host Jimmy Kimmel submitted an apology statement after facing backlash for wearing blackface on an old Comedy Central sketch for The Man Show. Kimmel co-hosted The Man Show, which aired from 1999 to 2004, and it included a skit in which Kimmel would orally and physically mimic NBA player Karl Malone; Kimmel would also use the Malone impression during his radio days with KROQ in the 1990s, The Hill reports.
“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,” Kimmel opened up saying in the statement.
“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,” Kimmel said. “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 continued.
In his last remarks, he said that he believes he “has evolved and matured over the last twenty-plus years, and I hope that is evident to anyone who watched my show.” He added: “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,” said Kimmel.
This isn’t the only instance of Kimmel’s questionable actions. He also used racial slurs multiple times on a 1996 Christmas album in which he imitated rapper Snoop Dogg, which he did not mention in his Tuesday apology. People were also dragged him for making light of Megan Fox’s story about being sexualized as a 15-year-old by American film director Michael Bay.
While it seems like Kimmel is in hiding in anticipation of the backlash, Kimmel explained that the break from the show was planned more than a year in advance and “includes the next two summers off as well.”