After facing renewed and heightened criticism for his use of blackface while hosting Comedy Central’s The Man Show from 1999 to 2003, Jimmy Kimmel has issued a statement apologizing for his insensitive sketches.
Despite being on vacation, Kimmel addressed his controversial impression of former NBA star Karl Malone and says he has “evolved” and “matured” since his time on The Man Show and as a radio shock jock where the impression first started. Kimmel also apologized for not tackling the subject when it was brought up over the years.
“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,” Kimmel said in a statement. “That delay was a mistake.”
While addressing the Malone sketches, the late-night host went even further and admitted to doing impressions of Snoop Dogg and Oprah, which in hindsight, were not the best idea, and he regrets not recognizing it at the time. Via Deadline:
“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.
Kimmel ended his apology by refusing to allow this incident to “cancel” him, although that decision will up to audiences. “I love this country too much to allow that,” he said. “I won’t be bullied into silence by those who feign outrage to advance their oppressive and genuinely racist agendas.”
You can read Kimmel’s full statement below: