As racial tensions rise following the death of George Floyd, who was killed when a Minnesota Police Officer jammed his knee into Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes, Jimmy Fallon is taking the opportunity to apologize for his past racial mistake, he wore blackface on SNL when impersonating Chris Rock, and to open discussions on how we move forward in race relations.
This is Jimmy’s second apology for the incident, the first coming on Twitter where he said, “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.”
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
After starting off his show explaining that he was not going to have “a normal show tonight,” the late night host opened up about what he was feeling about the situation.
“I had to really examine myself, really examine myself, in the mirror this week because a story came out about me on SNL doing an impression of Chris Rock in blackface—and I was horrified,” he said. “Not at the fact that people were trying to cancel me or cancel the show, which is scary enough, but the thing that haunted me the most was: How do I say I love this person? I respect this guy more than I respect most humans. I’m not a racist. I don’t feel this way. And instead, what I kept getting advised was to just stay quiet and to not say anything. And that’s the advice because we’re all afraid. I took it for a minute, I took the advice and I thought, ‘God I’m gonna do this wrong. You’re right, I’m going to say something and get myself into even more trouble. I’m gonna make this worse, I don’t know what to do.’ So I thought about it. And I realized that I can’t not say I’m horrified and I’m sorry and I’m embarrassed.”
He continued, “What that small gesture did for me was break my own silence. What then I started to do was talk to some experts, some of which are here tonight and this week, and I realized that the silence is the biggest crime that white guys like me and the rest of us are doing—staying silent. We need to say something. We need to keep saying something and we need to stop saying that’s not OK more than just one day on Twitter.”
“I realized I needed to get educated about how to stop the silence and the fear of saying the wrong thing by not being silent and stepping out and stepping up,” he added. “We all need to be talking about this.”
He went onto to plead with his audience to be proactive, get involved and talk to people.
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“Let’s figure out how we’re going to get along with each other. Let’s figure out how we’re going to stop this senseless violence that erupts and disrupts the entire country and now the world,” he concluded. “The world is screaming and it is angry and we all need to figure out a way to take the anger, which of course is just sadness and fear, and do something with it and try to actually dig this up. This is such a long root in the ground. It is so long and deep but we got to get in there and we have to dig it up. I don’t know how else to do it. I’m clearly not an expert. I’m clearly a late-night talk show host and I screwed it up already. So, let’s go. Let’s reform. Let’s talk. Let’s do it.”
Jimmy invited his first guest to allow the talking to begin with Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP. Check out their discussion below.