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Jimmy Fallon Was Advised To ‘Just Stay Quiet’ When Blackface Sketch Resurfaced

by : Emily Brown on : 03 Jun 2020 12:51
Jimmy Fallon Was Advised To 'Just Stay Quiet' When Blackface Sketch ResurfacedThe Tonight Show/YouTube/PA Images

The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon has admitted he was advised to ‘stay quiet’ when a clip of him doing a blackface impersonation of Chris Rock resurfaced online. 

The offensive clip went viral last Monday, May 25, on the same day 46-year-old George Floyd died after former police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck.

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Black Lives Matter protests have broken out across the globe in the wake of Floyd’s death, and the resurfaced clip led many social media users to call for Fallon to be ‘cancelled’.

Jimmy FallonThe Tonight Show/YouTube

The 20-year-old clip comes from a sketch Fallon perfored during his time on Saturday Night Live (SNL), and shows him wearing dark make-up while impersonating Rock.

On Monday’s episode of The Tonight Show, June 1, Fallon reflected on his actions and discussed them in relation to the protests currently going on around the world.

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Hear Fallon’s thoughts here:

The host explained he was going to start ‘personally, and then expand out’, because we need to start ‘with ourselves, and looking at ourselves in the mirror’.

He continued:

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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.

[T]he 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.’

Chris RockPA Images

After the clip resurfaced, Fallon took to Twitter to apologise for his ‘unquestionably offensive decision’ and thanked those who called him out for his actions.

Speaking on his show, Fallon revealed that choosing to apologise went against the advice he’d been given.

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He said:

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, ‘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.’

Fallon decided he couldn’t keep quiet and ignore what he’d done, so he decided to break his silence with the tweet.

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In the following days, Fallon spoke to experts on the subject and realised ‘silence is the biggest crime that white guys like [him], and the rest of us, are doing.’

He added:

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.

I need to be, we all need to be, talking about this, I spoke to someone incredible and brilliant who I think can help us all out in this incredibly sensitive and in-our-face subject that we need to deal with.

Derrick Johnson on The Tonight ShowThe Tonight Show/YouTube

Fallon welcomed Derrick Johnson, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), on to the show, noting that he wanted to work on ‘being a better ally’ and educating himself so that he didn’t have to stay silent for fear of saying the wrong thing.

Discussing how to ensure the Black Lives Matter movement can continue to grow, Johnson said:

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.

Most importantly, be the example we want to see. So peer-to-peer conversations, using one’s platform to promote a more positive outlook at life as it relates to other people’s uniqueness and difference becomes important.

If you’d like to educate yourself further and help the Black Lives Matter movement, you can sign the petition:

Fallon committed to continue working with the NAACP, stating he would be in regular contact with Johnson so he can stay educated on the things he can do to help.

Keeping informed and doing what we can to stand up against injustice will help us create a better future. Though it won’t happen overnight, every step forward is worth taking.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Celebrity, blackface, Chris Rock, George Floyd, Jimmy Fallon, Now, Racism, The Tonight Show

Credits

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/YouTube
  1. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/YouTube

    Jimmy Addresses Past Mistakes and Speaks to NAACP President Derrick Johnson