TV host Jimmy Fallon apologises for wearing blackface in old SNL clip after being slammed on social media
A clip from Saturday Night Live that was recorded in 2000 went viral on Monday. In it, Jimmy Fallon performs a skit impersonating Chris Rock, an African American, whilst wearing blackface, and depicting him as a user of crack and cocaine.
NBC's The Tonight show host Jimmy Fallon has apologised for wearing blackface in a Saturday Night Live skit from 2 decades ago.
The clip from the show recorded in 2000 went viral on Monday. Social media called out Fallon for impersonating Chris Rock, an African American, and for depicting him as a user of crack and cocaine.
The hashtag #JimmyFallonisOverParty trended on Twitter, slamming the comedian's covert racism against his fellow SNL cast member. Fallon released an apology soon afterwards. "In 2000, while on SNL, I made a terrible decision to do an impersonation of Chris Rock while in Blackface," he wrote on Twitter. "There is no excuse for this. I am very sorry for making this unquestionably offensive decision and thank all of you for holding me accountable," he added.
Chris Rock is yet to respond on the recent controversy.
Saturday Night Live (SNL) is an American late-night live television sketch which depicts artists and comedians performing comic skits on current topics. Fallon is not the first entertainer to come under fire for wearing blackface. The show has a history of problematic portrayals of people of colour. The LA Times reported other white artists impersonating black figures, including former US president Barack Obama and musician Sammy Davis Jr.
Several politicians and influential figures have also been called out for cultural appropriation, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who fuelled public outrage for wearing blackface when they were young. Earlier, comedian Sarah Silverman said that she was fired from a movie after a photo of her wearing blackface from 2007 resurfaced. In 2018, news broadcaster Megyn Kelly was fired from NBC after she defended wearing blackface as part of a Halloween costume.
What is Cultural Appropriation and why is wearing blackface wrong?
According to an American lawyer, Susan Scafidi, "Cultural appropriation is taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artefacts from someone else’s culture without permission. This can include the use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc."
Blackface reinstates offensive and racist biases and stereotypes against African Americans. Representation of black culture is trivialised in the form of Halloween costumes in the West which further deepens racism and negatively portrays an entire race of individuals.