Jimmy Kimmel issues an apology for participating in past sketches where he imitated black men.
Recently, social media users began circulating a sketch from “The Man Show,” hosted by Kimmel and Adam Carolla from 1999 to 2003, where Kimmel wears blackface to impersonate NBA player Karl Malone.
Fox News also unearthed a 1996 song called “Christmastime in LBC,” where Kimmel not only imitates Snoop Dogg’s rapping style but also uses the N-word.
On Tuesday, the host of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” released a statement apologizing for his past transgressions.
“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,” the 52-year-old said.
In his message, Kimmel says his imitation of Malone originated from a radio show on KROQ-FM in California.
“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,” he explained.
He continued, “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.”
Despite these offenses, Kimmel believes that he has “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,” he concluded.
Earlier this month, Kimmel was announced as the host of the 2020 Primetime Emmy Awards.