Jimmy Fallon addresses ‘SNL’ blackface sketch, says he was advised to ‘just stay quiet’
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The decades-old video clip resurfaced last month and Fallon took to Twitter on May 28 to issue an apology. However on Monday’s edition of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” the host, 45, went against what he said was advised to remain mum on the matter and opened his heart in his opening monologue.
"Seeing what is going on in our country, I'm not going to have a normal show tonight — I'm going to have a different show. I'm going to start this personally, and then expand out, because that's where we all need to start," the late-night talker began, referencing the dayslong nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism which has come in the midst of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody after a white police officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes.
“With ourselves, and looking at ourselves in the mirror. And I had to 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,” Fallon said, adding that he was “horrified” by the wake of disparagement and calls on social media questioning his character.
"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 am not a racist, I don't feel this way,'" Fallon said. "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."
Fallon said, after heeding advice from his unnamed advisors, he decided that wasn’t the approach he wanted to take.
"I took it for a minute. I took the advice and I thought, 'Oh God, I'm going to do this wrong. You're right, I'm going to say something and get myself into even more trouble. I'm going to make this worse. I don't know what to do,'" he continued. "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.'”
Jimmy Fallon attends the FYC Event For NBC's 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon' at The WGA Theater on May 03, 2019 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
The “Taxi” actor maintained: “What that small gesture did for me was break my own silence, and then what I started to do is 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."
"We need to say something," he asserted. "We need to keep saying something. And we need to stop saying 'That's not okay' more than just one day on Twitter."
Continuing his monologue, Fallon said he had to further his education on “how to stop the silence and the fear of saying the wrong thing,” and welcomed NAACP president Derrick Johnson and CNN anchor Don Lemon to the program as Fallon said he wanted to be a “better ally.”