Fallon Talks 'Biggest Crime' of White Guys

'Tonight Show' host vows to end the silence on racism
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 2, 2020 9:30 AM CDT

Jimmy Fallon promised a "different kind of show" in returning to the Tonight Show after a weeklong hiatus on Monday—and he delivered. Days after tweeting an apology for a 2000 Saturday Night Live sketch in which he impersonated Chris Rock in blackface, Fallon opened with a somber monologue, saying he was "horrified" and "embarrassed." "I am not a racist," he added, stressing his respect for Rock. He then vowed to speak up against racism, against the recommendation of some advisers. Staying silent "is the biggest crime that white guys like me and the rest of us are doing," he said. "We need to say something, we need to keep saying something" because "it's not going to get buried." "You can't just hope that everyone loves each other. We can't ... just sit around tweeting, 'be the change.'"

Fallon said he would bring on experts that could help people move forward together. NAACP President Derrick Johnson then appeared in place of Lady Gaga, who'd been previously announced as a guest, per Deadline. "More people need to speak about where they are with a really authentic voice, and I think you did that," Johnson told Fallon. "Racism is a learned behavior, and for us to unlearn a behavior we have to be honest about it and create spaces where we can talk about it." Journalist Don Lemon then showed up to commend Fallon on his honesty and bravery. "I wish more people would do that because we can't go back to the way we were," the CNN Tonight anchor said, per the Hollywood Reporter. "We all have pasts and they're not perfect," he added. "We have to allow people to be flawed and have conversations like we're having now." (Read more Jimmy Fallon stories.)

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