Jimmy Kimmel is breaking his silence after being criticized for past sketches that involved blackface. The Jimmy Kimmel Live host said in a statement: "I have long been reluctant to address this, as I knew doing so would be celebrated as a victory by those who equate apologizes with weakness and cheer for leaders who use prejudice to divide us.  That delay was a mistake. There is nothing more important to me than your respect, and I apologize for those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke."

He continued: "On KROQ radio in the mid-90s, I did a recurring impression of the NBA player Karl Malone. In the late 90s, I continued impersonating Malone on TV. We hired makeup artists to make me look as much like Karl Malone as possible. I never considered that this might be seen as anything other than an imitation of a fellow human being, one that had no more to do with Karl's skin color than it did his bulging muscles and bald head. I've done dozens of impressions of famous people, including Snoop DoggOprahEminemDick Vitale, Rosie and many others. In each case, I thought of them as impersonations of celebrities and nothing more. Looking back, many of these sketches are embarrassing, and it is frustrating that these moments have become a weapon used by some to diminish my criticism of social and other injustices."

The late-night host added: "I believe that I have evolved and matured over the last twenty-plus years and I hope that is evident to anyone who watches my show. I know that this will not be the last I hear of this and that it will be used again to try to quiet me. I love this country too much to allow that. I won't be bullied into silence by those who feign outrage to advance their oppressive and genuinely racist agendas."

Kimmel is currently on break from his show. He is set to return as host of the 2020 Emmy Awards on ABC. The show will drop September 20th. He will also exec produce the show.

Social media users were not impressed, and said that it was hypocritical of ABC to keep him on. One critic wrote: “If Jimmy Kimmel was a Trump supporting woman named Roseanne Barr, he would’ve been fired by ABC already.”

Another user encouraged people to speak out: “You may email Disney to ask about why support using the n-word and blackface via these publicly available emails: [email protected] [email protected]