Jimmy Kimmel apologized on Tuesday after recordings of him wearing blackface and using the "N-word" recently surfaced.
Kimmel used the offensive language while impersonating Snoop Dogg in a song spoof in 1996. He also used blackface in a repeated sketch in "The Man Show" that aired from 1999-2004.
"I have long been reluctant to address this, as I knew doing so would be celebrated as a victory by those who equate apologies 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 to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke," Kimmel told Fox News in a statement on Tuesday.
Kimmel has long been criticized for using blackface to impersonate NBA legend Karl Malone. He has more recently been put under fire for the lyrics in the 1996 Christmas album that repeatedly used offensive language.
"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 Dogg, Oprah, Eminem, Dick Vitale, Rosie, and many others. In each case, I thought of them as impersonations of celebrities and nothing more," Kimmel said.
Kimmel said that it is "frustrating" that those sketches have overshadowed some of his social justice advocacy.
"Looking back, many of these sketches are embarrassing, and it is frustrating that these thoughtless moments have become a weapon used by some to diminish my criticisms of social and other injustices," he said.
Kimmel said his viewers can vouch for the fact that he has changed over the years.
"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," Kimmel said. "I won't be bullied into silence by those who feign outrage to advance their oppressive and genuinely racist agendas."