Jimmy Kimmel Apologizes for Blackface Impression of NBA Star Karl Malone

Jimmy Kimmel.is expressing regret for a blackface imitation he performed of NBA player Karl Malone in the mid- and late 1990s.

On Tuesday night, ABC’s late-night host, Jimmy Kimmel, who is currently taking a summer break, issued a statement. This comes amid a continued reckoning in the industry over racist depictions of Black people and scenes that featured blackface. As a result, Hulu temporarily removed four episodes of Rock 30 that included such scenes, while HBO Max temporarily removed Gone with the Wind, which had a range of problematic depictions.

Kimmel stated, “I am more concerned with apologizing to those who were genuinely offended or hurt by the words I spoke or the makeup I wore. There is nothing more important to me than this. It was a mistake to delay. I have long been reluctant to address this, as I knew it would be celebrated as a victory by those who equate apologies with weakness and cheer for leaders who use prejudice to divide us.”

Jimmy Kimmel.started doing his impression of Jazz player Malone from the ’90s in a sketch featuring a bald cap and blackface makeup on the Central’s Comedy Show on YouTube.

Jimmy Fallon, a fellow late night host, followed Kimmel’s example and apologized for his blackface sketch on Saturday Night Live in 2000. Additionally, Netflix has removed the Little Britain sketch series due to its utilization of blackface, and HBO Max has temporarily shelved Gone With the Wind until it can incorporate a disclaimer regarding the depiction of Black characters and slavery in the 1939 film.

Please find below the complete statement by Kimmel.

I apologize for the makeup I wore and the words I spoke, and I am sorry to those who were genuinely hurt or offended. Your respect means everything to me, and I acknowledge that the delay in addressing this issue was a mistake. I also condemn leaders who use prejudice to divide us. I have been hesitant to address this matter for a while because I knew that some would interpret it as a sign of weakness, but I believe it is important to take responsibility and apologize.

These thoughtless moments have become a weapon to diminish my criticisms of social and other injustices. It is frustrating and embarrassing to see how many of these sketches are used as a means to mock and impersonate various celebrities. I have done dozens of impressions of famous people including Rosie, Vitale, Dick, Eminem, Oprah, Dogg, Snoop, and many others. This particular imitation of Karl, with his bald head and bulging muscles, was seen as more than just a portrayal of his physical appearance. We even hired makeup artists to make me look more like Karl Malone, as it was never considered possible for someone like me to be seen as anything other than a fellow human being. I continued impersonating Malone on TV during the late 90s, and it became a recurring impression on KROQ radio during the mid-90s.

I genuinely love this country too much to allow myself to be bullied into silence by those who feign outrage to advance their racist and oppressive agendas. I know that this won’t be the last time I hear of it and I will try to be quiet again. I hope it is evident to anyone who watches me that I have matured and evolved over the last twenty-plus years.

I will be back to work in September. My summer vacation has been planned for more than a year and includes two whole summers off next.

Thank you for granting me a chance to clarify, and to those whom I have let down, I apologize.