Jimmy Kimmel apologized on Tuesday amid facing backlash for performing in blackface in past skits, as well as using the N-word multiple times in a recently unearthed song from the 1996 comedy Christmas album, A Family Christmas in Your A**s.
"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," Kimmel said in a statement to ET. "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," he continued. "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."
Kimmel said he was now embarrassed over his past actions.
"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. "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. Sincerely, Jimmy Kimmel."
Fox News recently unearthed the 1996 song called “Christmastime in LBC," in which Kimmel imitates Snoop Dogg's distinct rapping style. The album came out of the "Kevin & Bean" radio show on KROQ-FM in California.
Kimmel used the N-word multiple times during the impression, rapping lines like, "Fat ni**a in a sleigh giving sh** away," and "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow / I told that motherf**ker Santa bring a pick for my afro."
ET has reached out to Snoop Dogg for comment.
In a 2013 podcast with The Man Show co-creator Adam Carolla, also unearthed by Fox News, Kimmel talked about imitating Snoop Dogg and later admitted to once calling the president of Comedy Central as comedian George Wallace, and did his impression for Carolla. Carolla called the impression Kimmel's "crazy Black voice."
When asked if he only impersonates Black people, Kimmel joked, "I prefer them, yes."
Meanwhile, in The Man Show skit, he put on blackface to imitate Malone and changed his voice.
Kimmel was recently announced as the host for the 2020 Emmy Awards. He will also serve as an executive producer.
"I don't know where we will do this or how we will do this or even why we are doing this, but we are doing it and I am hosting it," Kimmel said in a statement last Tuesday, addressing the uncertainty surrounding the Emmy telecast amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"I've been doing this job for almost 18 years, I've done 3,130 shows, and there's nothing wrong, my family is healthy," he shared. "I'm healthy. I just need a couple of months off."