Jimmy Kimmel Apologizes for Blackface Sketches, Claims He Won’t Be ‘Bullied Into Silence’

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Just days after he announced he would be taking the summer off from his show Jimmy Kimmel Live, the late night talk show host took the time to apologize for blackface sketches that he now calls ‘thoughtless’ and ‘embarrassing.’

“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,” Jimmy Kimmel said in a statement on Tuesday (June 23.) “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.”

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The comments came days after controversy swirled when Donald Trump Jr. retweeted a sketch from The Man Show that included a blackface sketch of former NBA star Karl Malone. Kimmel hosted The Man Show on Comedy Central alongside co-host Adam Carolla from 1999 to 2003. Kimmel began impersonating Malone during his radio days in California, and continued that trend on The Man Show.

“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,” Kimmel said in the tweet. “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.”

Now, Kimmel says he has learned from the past.

But he will not stay quiet going into the future.

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“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,” Kimmel concluded. “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.”

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to explain and to those I’ve disappointed, I am sorry.”