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Jimmy Kimmel apologizes for offensive impressions of Black celebrities

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ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel released an apology Tuesday after facing criticism for wearing blackface in an old recurring sketch on Comedy Central’s “The Man Show,” according to multiple reports.

Kimmel, who co-hosted “The Man Show,” which ran from 1999 to 2004, performed in a skit that included him dressing in blackface to portray NBA star Karl Malone, an impression he also used to do on KROQ radio in the 1990s. 

“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. That delay was a mistake,” the “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” host said Tuesday. “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.” 

“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,” Kimmel 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,” he continued.

The late-night host said that he believes “that I have evolved and matured over the last twenty-plus years, and I hope that is evident to anyone who watched 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,” Kimmel said, adding that “to those I’ve disappointed, I am sorry.”  

Fox News reported this week that Kimmel used racial slurs multiple times on a 1996 Christmas album in which he imitated rapper Snoop Dogg. Kimmel did not mention the report in his Tuesday apology.

Kimmel is set to take a break from his ABC show over the summer, although he emphasized Tuesday that the vacation “has been planned for more than a year and includes the next two summers off as well.”

Tags Blackface Jimmy Kimmel Jimmy Kimmel Live! Late Night The Man Show

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