Nick Cannon Calls Out Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon for Past Use of Blackface
Yep, blackface is in the news again.
On Tuesday, Nick Cannon posted a video to Instagram which shows both Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon dressed in blackface while performing sketches early on in their careers.
Cannon captioned the post, "Are these your Kings of Late Night???" before tagging both hosts and adding, "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 finished off with a request for a conversation: "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 also shared an image of Sarah Silverman in blackface.
In a followup post, he expounded on the history of blackface and why "there is no such thing as 'whiteface.'"
"This is not a Tit-for-Tat argument," he said. "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."
The timing is particularly poignant as discussions of blackface ripple through the cultural mainstream. In the fashion industry, Italian brands Gucci and Prada (whom Cannon also called out) have faced their own scandals revolving around products that resemble traditional blackface. Both have since apologized and promised to do more to diversify their teams in order to prevent future missteps.
Just yesterday, Katy Perry issued an apology after two styles from her eponymous shoe collection were called out for their resemblance to blackface. The styles in question — which feature two blue eyes and big red lips on black leather — were removed from her website. "I was saddened when it was brought to my attention that it was being compared to painful images reminiscent of blackface," Perry said in a statement to InStyle. "Our intention was never to inflict any pain."
In the political sphere, Virginia's Governor Ralph Northam copped to wearing blackface after images from a college yearbook surfaced of two men, one in blackface and the other outfitted in Ku Klux Klan robes. Northam first apologized for the image, and then denied being in it altogether. Shortly thereafter he noted that he was momentarily confused because he had dressed in blackface as part of a Michael Jackson costume in the 1980s.
Last October, Megyn Kelly was fired from NBC after she defended blackface as part of Halloween costumes on air. On Twitter, others have pointed out actors like Ted Danson and Joy Behar, who have also participated in blackface costumes.
During Black History Month no less, there's no better time for the reminder: Blackface is not OK.