Jimmy Kimmel is joining the long list of entertainers apologizing for past use of blackface—although he may have simply added more fuel to the fire with what some are calling a "non-apology." The late night host impersonated celebrities including Karl Malone and Oprah Winfrey in a series of sketches on The Man Show, the Comedy Central series he hosted from 1999 to 2003. He's been in the hot seat for weeks over the skits, and on Tuesday said in a statement that he apologized "to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke." He said he'd started impersonating Malone when he was a KROQ radio host in the mid-1990s, and that upon moving the impersonation to television, he saw the makeup as simply part of the imitation of another person. He did not use the term "blackface" in the statement, the New York Times reports.
He said he'd "long been reluctant to address this, as I knew doing so would be celebrated as a victory by those who equate apologies with weakness and cheer for leaders who use prejudice to divide us" and said that it's "frustrating that these thoughtless moments have become a weapon used by some to diminish my criticisms of social and other injustices." He added that he knows "that this will not be the last I hear of this and that it will be used again to try to quiet me," but promised, "I won’t be bullied into silence by those who feign outrage to advance their oppressive and genuinely racist agendas." As Fox News notes, high-profile conservative commentators were quick to decry the "non-apology" and deride its focus on Kimmel's critics rather than on the blackface itself. And as Forbes notes, audio has also been uncovered in which Kimmel appears to use the n-word several times in a comedic song—and the host has yet to address that incident at all. (Read more blackface stories.)