Jimmy Kimmel has apologized to “those who were genuinely hurt or offended” by his blackface sketch of NBA star Karl Malone.
“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,” the 52-year-old talk show host shared in a statement, per Deadline in a piece published Tuesday. (RELATED: Jimmy Kimmel Announces He’s Taking Time Off From His Late Night Comedy Show)
“That delay was a mistake,” he added. “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.”
— Yashar Ali ???? (@yashar) June 23, 2020
Kimmel continued, while noting that in the mid-90s, “on KROQ radio” he “did a recurring impression of the NBA player Karl Malone. In the late 90s, I continued impersonating Malone on TV.”
The late-night TV talk show host went on to explain how they “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.”
The host of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” then talked about how during his entire career he’s done “dozens of impressions of famous people, including Snoop Dogg, Oprah, Eminem, Dick Vitale, Rosie, and many others.”
.@JimmyKimmel used the N-word six times in parody song from 1996.
Kimmel admitted to imitating black people and also mimicked black comedian George Wallace.
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) June 23, 2020
“In each case, I thought of them as impersonations of celebrities and nothing more,” Kimmel’s statement read. “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.”
“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,” 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.”
Kimmel concluded his statement by explaining how much he loves “this country” and “won’t be bullied into silence by those who feign outrage to advance their oppressive and genuinely racist agendas.”
The host then reminded people that he was taking time off his show to have a summer vacation with his family which he has planned for more than “a year.”
“I will be back to work in September,” Kimmel said. “Thank you for giving me an opportunity to explain and to those I’ve disappointed, I am sorry.”
Kimmel appeared in blackface impersonating Malone on Comedy Central’s “The Man Show” where he and Adam Corolla were the host from 1999 to 2003.