Jimmy Kimmel has finally addressed a past of which he’s ashamed.
The talk show host issued a lengthy statement on Tuesday in response to mounting backlash against him for past blackface sketches.
The skits in question date back to the late 1990s and featured Kimmel dressing up as NBA legend Karl Malone, both for a radio gig and later for The Man Show on Comedy Central.
“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,” said the comedian today.
“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 then delved into the specifics of his mistake:
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.
Amid the ongoing calls for social justice and police reform, many entertainers have had to revisit their past choices and publicly acknowledge the igorance they displayed.
Tina Fey, for example, also apologized this week and removed four episodes of the sitcom 30 Rock from streaming due to instances of blackface.
“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,” continued Kimmel.
“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.’
Kimmel concluded as follows:
“My summer vacation has been planned for more than a year and includes the next two summers off as well. I will be back to work in September.
“Thank you for giving me an opportunity to explain and to those I’ve disappointed, I am sorry.”
Donald Trump Jr., meanwhile, is not about to let Kimmel off the hook all that easily.
In a tweet, Trump Jr. called out ABC for still airing Jimmy Kimmel Live, considering a tape has also come to light…