Nick Cannon came down on late night hosts Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel for wearing blackface in the past to portray people of color in skits — and he’s making fair points.
With the nation deep in conversation after several Virginia politicians have found themselves embroiled in blackface scandals, TV host Nick Cannon brought up instances of two longtime late night talk show hosts doing the same thing in the past for laughs. He took to Instagram on Feb. 10 and showed clips of both Jimmy Fallon, 44, and Jimmy Kimmel, 51, in comedy skits dressed not just in blackface, but black hands and in Kimmel’s case, full body black. The first clips was from 1999, 20 year ago, when Kimmel portrayed NBA star Karl Malone during a skit on Comedy Central’s The Man Show. Meanwhile, the video also shows Fallon donned in blackface and hands for a Chris Rock impersonation during his Saturday Night Live days. In his post, Nick comes out to remind both men not only that they’re guilty of wearing blackface, but to ask them to open up a dialogue about it for a “teachable moment.”
“Are these your Kings of Late Night??? @JimmyFallon @JimmyKimmel you know I’m always on the side of the comedian and never pander to the sensitive, but I feel there needs to be some ‘truth & reconciliation’ discussions and teachable moments amongst our communities,” he wrote in the caption next to an Instagram post showing the offending videos. “I’m ready and willing for the discourse, so who wants to step up to the table first? In the meantime, I’ll just leave this right here. Tell the Jimmys to holla at me,” he added.
So far, neither of the late night hosts have responded to Nick’s comments about donning dark makeup to portray black characters, as far as we know, but hopefully, Nick’s fair points will allow a conversation to be had. Meanwhile, it is important to acknowledge that this was not just a one time occurrence, at least not for Kimmel, who also dressed up as Oprah Winfrey for a 2001 sketch on The Man Show. As the times have finally become more sensitive to the issue, Nick clearly wants the men to reconcile their past blackface actions during comedy skits to further the conversation. But he didn’t stop there.
Following his post to Fallon and Kimmel, he posted a photo of himself dressed in ‘whiteface’ from his infamous alter ego Connor Smallnut, a character he created when he dropped his 2014 album “White People Party Music”, in an attempt to show the difference between what he did and how the ‘Jimmys’ dressed. “TEACHABLE MOMENT: America, There is NO such thing as ‘WhiteFace’ just like there is no such thing as ‘Reverse Racism,’ he wrote in his Insta caption. “BlackFace and Racism are rooted in and are byproducts of the Institutionalized Oppression of a subjugated people. The racist and severely damaging ‘Jim Crow laws’ received its name from the Blackface minstrel movement of the 19th century and proceeds to cause pain to this day. A constant reminder that People of color are looked at as second class citizens in this country.”
He then added: “Now when you look up the standard definition of ‘Whiteface’ all you will find is an elite Ski Resort in Upstate NY. This is not a Tit-for-Tat argument. These are FACTS. These recent revealings of people painting themselves black or brown and speaking in broken slang in an attempt to be humorous or have fun; as if our culture is some sort of party trick or costume is unacceptable.”
Whether you agree with Nick or not, it’s safe to say that this conversation still needs to go deeper if there is ever to be progress.