Jimmy Kimmel apologized for a series of impressions of Black celebrities he performed in the past when he was a personality on Los Angeles' KROQ radio station and, later, on TV's "The Man Show."
While co-hosting the latter, he wore blackface for an imitation of former NBA star Karl Malone.
Kimmel said that he regrets not addressing the issue sooner, but added that his reluctance to do so was fueled by the concern that it "would be celebrated as a victory by those who equate apologies with weakness."
"I apologize to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke," Kimmel said in a statement obtained by ABC News. "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 [Winfrey], Eminem, Dick Vitale, Rosie [O'Donnell], and many others. In each case, I thought of them as impersonations of celebrities and nothing more," he added. "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."
Kimmel, 52, insists he's "evolved" since then, and denied that his recently announced summer off from "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" had anything to do with the old sketches surfacing online. He insists the vacation was "planned for months," and that he'd be back at work in September. He is also slated to host the 2020 Emmys on Sept. 20.71279924
"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," he said.
Kimmel's mea culpa comes shortly after his fellow late-night host Jimmy Fallon apologized for a blackface imitation of Chris Rock.