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Jimmy Fallon 'horrified' by blackface 'SNL' sketch: 'I'm not a racist'

June 2 (UPI) -- Jimmy Fallon says he's "horrified" by his past use of blackface in a Saturday Night Live sketch.

The 45-year-old television personality and comedian apologized Monday on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon for using blackface to impersonate Chris Rock in a 2000 skit on SNL.

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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," Fallon said. "And I was horrified. Not of people trying to 'cancel' me or cancel this show, which is scary enough. The 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," he added of Rock. "I'm not a racist. I don't feel this way."

Fallon faced backlash in May after the sketch resurfaced online. He apologized on Twitter last week.

"In 2000, while on SNL, I made a terrible decision to do an impersonation of Chris Rock while in blackface. There is no excuse for this," Fallon wrote. "I am very sorry for making this unquestionable offensive decision and thank all of you for holding me accountable."

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On The Tonight Show, Fallon said he tweeted the apology after initially being advised to "just stay quiet and not say anything."

"I realized that I can't not say I'm horrified and I'm sorry and I'm embarrassed," he said. "I realized that the silence is the biggest crime that white guys like me and the rest of us are doing, staying silent. We need to say something. We need to keep saying something."

Fallon spoke to NAACP president Derrick Johnson and CNN host Don Lemon, who voiced appreciation for Fallon's apology.

"That was powerful, but most importantly, it's about courage," Johnson said.

"That's exactly what we all need to do is examine ourselves," Lemon said. "That was really honest and very brave of you and I appreciate you having the depth really to do what you did in that opening monologue."

Fallon and his guests also discussed the national protests over George Floyd's death. Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died last week in Minneapolis, Minn., while being restrained by a police officer who knelt on his neck.

"To be anti-racist, it means joining in on this army to fight against racism," Johnson said.

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