Jimmy Fallon addresses blackface controversy with NAACP president

Jimmy Fallon attends the FYC Event For NBC's "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" at The WGA Theater in Beverly Hills, Calif., May 3, 2019. Frazer Harrison / Getty Images / Files

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Jimmy Fallon used Monday night’s episode of his late night show to address anger over his past wearing of blackface with National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President Derrick Johnson.

Last week forgotten footage of The Tonight Show host’s impersonation of African-American comic Chris Rock on Saturday Night Live 20 years ago resurfaced on the internet, prompting him to issue an apology.

On Monday’s show, he addressed the issue in his opening monologue, saying he was “horrified” and “embarrassed” over his past actions and asked his first guest, Johnson, how he could, “figure out how to be a better ally.”

Johnson responded by saying, “We are all born flawed, but flawed is part of the journey we are on to get to perfection. If anyone can stand up and say ‘I haven’t made a mistake,’ run, because that person is clearly a liar.”

The NAACP chief went on to say that those wanting to understand racism and how it affects people of colour needed to continue to talk and listen to those who experience it.

He advised, “Keeping the dialogue open, appreciating the uniqueness we all bring to the table and celebrating that uniqueness and not allowing demagogues to create otherness from people who may be different.”

Fallon also spoke to CNN anchor Don Lemon about the hurt he felt covering the death of an unarmed African-American man, George Floyd, at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the ensuing protests across the U.S.

After praising the comedian for owning up to his past errors, the TV newsman, who called on celebrities to speak up about Floyd’s death, gave Fallon advice on how white allies could help people of colour fight racism.

“The biggest thing is to take some action,” he said. “Use whatever platform you have, wherever you are and try to do something for a person of colour, or understand a person of colour or improve conditions. When something happens in the workplace that you perceive to be discriminatory, don’t stand by, speak up!”