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Jimmy Kimmel Apologizes for ‘Thoughtless’ Blackface Sketches and Impersonations

Breaking his silence. Jimmy Kimmel apologized for his past impressions and impersonations of Black celebrities.

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“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 late-night host began in a statement shared 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.”

Kimmel went on to address a sketch in which he appeared in blackface as NBA player Karl Malone.

Jimmy Kimmel Apologizes for ‘Thoughtless’ Blackface Sketches and Impersonations
Jimmy Kimmel Andy Kropa/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

“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,” the statement reads. “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.”

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Kimmel noted that he’s done “dozens of impressions of famous people,” including Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Dick Vitale and Rosie O’Donnell over the years.

“In each case, I thought of them as impersonations of celebrities and nothing more,” the comedian said. “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. 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.”

While Kimmel announced plans for Jimmy Kimmel Live! to take a summer hiatus on Thursday, June 18, he insisted on Tuesday that his decision to take a break to spend time with his family was planned before the controversial sketches resurfaced.

“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,” his statement concludes. “Thank you for giving me an opportunity to explain and to those I’ve disappointed, I am sorry. Sincerely, Jimmy Kimmel.”

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In recent days, Kimmel also came under fire for joking about Michael Bay sexualizing Megan Fox during a 2009 interview with the actress. Fox has since come forward to clarify that she never felt “assaulted or prayed upon” by the director.

“While I greatly appreciate the outpouring of support, I do feel I need to clarify some of the details as they have been lost in the retelling of the events and cast a sinister shadow that doesn’t really, in my opinion, belong. At least not where it’s currently being projected,” Fox said. “Please hear me when I thank you for your support. But these specific instances were inconsequential in a long and arduous journey along which I have endured some genuinely harrowing experiences in a ruthlessly misogynistic industry,. There are many names that deserve to be going viral in cancel culture right now, but they are safely stored in the fragmented recesses of my heart.”

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