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Jimmy Fallon Apologizes Again for Blackface SNL Sketch: ‘I’m Not a Racist’

A week after addressing and apologizing for his “terrible decision” to be involved in a blackface SNL sketch in 2000, Jimmy Fallon kicked off his new slate of Tonight Show episodes on Monday with “a different kind of show” — where he apologized, once again, for choosing to impersonate Chris Rock with a full face of black makeup and a beard. “I’m not a racist. I don’t feel this way,” Fallon explained. “I realized that I can’t not say I’m horrified and I’m sorry and I’m embarrassed. 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 okay’ more than just one day on Twitter.”

Speaking with NAACP president Derrick Johnson, Fallon admitted that he was advised to “just stay quiet and not say anything” when the blackface clip started to circulate and gain steam around social media. He disagreed at the time, and released a short statement of apology. However, in the aftermath of the political and cultural reckoning of George Floyd’s death, Fallon felt that his statement was inadequate and sought to open up further dialogue on The Tonight Show. “We cannot try to bury this again. It’s not going to get buried. It’s not going away,” Fallon said about Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. “You can’t just hope everyone loves each other. We can’t say ‘be the change’ and just sit around tweeting ‘be the change, be the change.’”

Later in the show, Fallon welcomed Don Lemon, who over the weekend harshly called out his celebrity friends for their inaction over Floyd’s death. Lemon admitted that while he doesn’t “always say the right things,” he doesn’t regret putting his pals on blast and appreciated Fallon educating himself about blackface. “That’s exactly what we all need to do, examine ourselves. That was very honest and brave of you,” Lemon said. “I wish more people would do that because we can’t go back to the way we were.”

Jimmy Fallon Apologizes Again for Blackface SNL Sketch