Jimmy Kimmel Apologizes for 'Embarrassing' Past Sketches Wearing Blackface

Jimmy Kimmel issued an apology for past sketches where he wore blackface to portray NBA player Karl Malone and other regrettable sketches, calling them "embarassing."

In a lengthy apology, Kimmel wrote that his delayed apology was "a mistake," and he had been reluctant, because he 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."

As previously reported, Kimmel recently faced backlash for sketches from The Man Show, where he impersonated NBA player Karl Malone and wore blackface for the sketches and a parody song where he allegedly said the n-word, while impersonating Snoop Dogg for a KROQ CD.

Kimmel apologized for the past controversies. "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," he said in the apology.

In his apology, he called the past sketches "embarrassing" and said he has changed in the years since they have aired.

Listing the many impressions he did including "Snoop Dogg, Oprah, Eminem, Dick Vitale, Rosie," and more, Kimmel said that at the time, he "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 [Malone]'s skin color than it did his bulging muscles and bald head."

Kimmel also said that, while the sketches were embarrassing, he said it was disappointing that the past actions would be used against him. "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 said.

Aware that this would probably not be the last time that the old jokes may come back to haunt him, Kimmel said that he has changed over the last two decades, and he will not back down in his current attempts to speak out against oppression and racism. "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," he said. "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."

The late night host also addressed rumors that his recently announced vacation was in response to the backlash, before offering one more apology. "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," he said. "Thank you for giving me an opportunity to explain and to those I've disappointed, I am sorry."

Jimmy Kimmel
In this screengrab, Jimmy Kimmel, speaks during "One World: Together At Home" presented by Global Citizen on April, 18, 2020. Getty Images/Getty