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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."
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. 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!?????
A post shared by NICK CANNON (@nickcannon) on Feb 9, 2019 at 11:06pm PST
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.
A post shared by NICK CANNON (@nickcannon) on Feb 9, 2019 at 9:30pm PST
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."
TEACHABLE MOMENT: America, There is NO such thing as “WhiteFace” just like there is no such thing as “Reverse Racism”. 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. 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. Along with @Gucci @Prada @Moncler and any other companies or corporations who wish to exploit our pain. Racism is when an “elite” group uses its systemic power to enforce harm, hardship, and pain on others. If you don’t understand this, then it probably means you are or benefit from that elite group of privileged oppressors that we speak of. ROUND 1 goes to : THE CULTURE ????? Holla at me!!!
A post shared by NICK CANNON (@nickcannon) on Feb 9, 2019 at 11:45pm PST
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.
BREAKING NEWS: Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon make no mention of the blackface scandal on their shows as both hosts and a myriad of celebs including Billy Crystal, Judy Garland, Ted Danson and Joy Behar are revealed to have participated in the racist practice. pic.twitter.com/dQ0Kn7x5vN
— Dave Vescio (@DaveVescio) February 7, 2019
During Black History Month no less, there's no better time for the reminder: Blackface is not OK.