Jimmy Kimmel apologized on Tuesday for starring in several different skits over the years where he appeared in blackface. According to Brian Steinberg of Variety, the late-night television host issued an official statement in which he expressed remorse while saying he has “evolved and matured” since doing those skits.
“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,” Kimmel said in the statement.
“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 added that while he understands that he’s going to come under fire for those blackface skits, he will continue to speak out about causes he supports. Earlier on Tuesday morning, the hashtag #canceljimmykimmel began trending as his critics posted videos and pictures of some of the skits in question.
Kimmel portrayed a number of black celebrities and athletes over the years, mostly as part of his work on The Man Show, which aired from 1999 to 2004.
Sarah Hearon of Us Weekly reported that Kimmel talked about one of the skits in question when he appeared as former Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers player Karl Malone.
The television host said he started portraying Malone on the radio but brought the character over to television as well. He admitted he had makeup artists attempt to make him look at much as Malone as possible. Kimmel added he never really thought of the skit as being “blackface” because he was just trying to portray the man. The host said the man’s muscles and the jersey he wore were as synonymous with his appearance as his skin color.
Kimmel said that over the course of his career, he’s done “dozens” of impersonations. He pointed to rapper Snoop Dogg, sports broadcaster Dick Vitale, and comedian Rosie O’Donnell as three examples. The comedian said that in each instance, he looked at the characters as impersonations and nothing more.
He added that he knows there are going to be people that attempt to silence him because he’s been an advocate for certain issues. He’s also been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump. Kimmel said he wouldn’t allow those who wanted him to stop talking about the issues to win.
“I won’t be bullied into silence by those who feign outrage to advance their oppressive and genuinely racist agendas.”