Jimmy Kimmel Apologizes for Blackface Sketch, Use of Racial Slur

The talk show host has released a statement regarding his impersonations of Snoop Dogg and Karl Malone

BY Allie GregoryPublished Jun 23, 2020

Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel has issued an apology for his history of using blackface and racial slurs in comedy sketches.

In particular, Kimmel has released a statement about his impression of former NBA player Karl Malone, a sketch in which he is seen not only wearing blackface, but also adopting a fake accent.

Meanwhile, Fox News recently unearthed his 1996 song "Christmastime in LBC," in which Kimmel uses a racial slur while impersonating Snoop Dogg. While Kimmel has not directly referenced that incident in his apology, he does talk about impersonations of celebrities, including Snoop Dogg, which he says he suggests he thought were appropriate at the time.

Kimmel's apology reads as follows:

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. 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.

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. 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. 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.

Kimmel's impressions of Malone and Snoop can be seen below — but be warned that they come with a content warning for racist depictions.

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