“In 2000, while on SNL, I made a terrible decision to do an impersonation of Chris Rock while in blackface. There is no excuse for this,” he wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, May 26. “I am very sorry for making this unquestionably offensive decision and thank all of you for holding me accountable.”
In 2000, while on SNL, I made a terrible decision to do an impersonation of Chris Rock while in blackface. There is no excuse for this.
I am very sorry for making this unquestionably offensive decision and thank all of you for holding me accountable.
— jimmy fallon (@jimmyfallon) May 26, 2020
In the sketch, Jimmy, 45, played the Everybody Hates Chris creator while joking with castmate Darrell Hammond (in character as Regis Philbin) about why black people never go on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. According to Variety, the clip began circulating on Monday, May 25, along with the hashtag “#jimmyfallonisoverparty.”
Though the Tonight Show host shared remorse over his part in the bit, SNL has yet to weigh in with a statement of their own. Neither have the other comedian in the sketch or Chris himself, who also starred on the sketch series from 1990 to 1993.
This is the first time Jimmy acknowledged the clip, but not the first time it resurfaced. In February 2019, actor and rapper Nick Cannon called out the SNL alum among others for appearing in blackface. “Happy ‘BLACKFACE’ History Month!!!” the Wild ‘n Out star wrote on Instagram at the time. “I’m sure we can expect some more ‘apologies’ by Monday.”
Despite that, Jimmy has been outspoken about combating racism on his show. During a 2017 monologue, he set the jokes aside to speak seriously with his audience about the white-supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. “What happened over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, was just disgusting,” he said at the time. “I was watching the news like everyone else, and you’re seeing Nazi flags and torches and white supremacists and I was sick to my stomach.”
The comedian urged his audience to speak out about injustice and “clearly denounce racists and white supremacists,” especially after incidents of violence like the one that killed Heather Hayer. He was frank about his belief that it is his “responsibility to stand up against intolerance and extremism” on his platform. “It’s important for everyone, especially white people in this country, to speak out against this,” he told fans. “Ignoring it is just as bad as supporting it.”
It seems he’s doing his best to hold himself to that same standard.
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