Promising a “different kind of show,” the host told viewers he would “start personally and then expand out” because “that’s where we all need to start with ourselves.”
“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,” he said of the two-decade-old sketch that resurfaced on Twitter. “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,” Fallon said of his fellow SNL alum. “I’m not a racist. I don’t feel this way.”
Instead, he said he “kept getting advised” to “just stay quiet and not say anything” because “we’re all afraid.” Initially, he took that advice, then released a written statement. But the anti-police violence protests over the past week made him realize he needed to do more.
“I realized that I can’t not say I’m horrified and I’m sorry and I’m embarrassed,” Fallon 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. And we need to stop saying ‘that’s not OK’ more than just one day on Twitter.”
Speaking more broadly, Fallon said, “We cannot try to bury this again. It’s not going to get buried. It’s not going away.” Alluding to the way he has addressed difficult subjects in the past, he said, “You can’t just hope everyone loves each other. We can’t say ‘be the change’ and just sit around tweeting ‘be the change, be the change.’”
With that, instead of hosting Lady Gaga, who was originally scheduled to be his guest Monday night, Fallon welcomed NAACP President Derrick Johnson, who applauded the “courage” of his apology, and CNN host Don Lemon to help school him on what he should be doing differently if he wants to be a true ally.
“Let’s figure out how we’re going to get along with each other,” Fallon said. “Let’s figure out how we’re going to stop this senseless violence that erupts and disrupts the entire country and now the world. The world is screaming and it is angry and we all need to figure out a way to take the anger, which of course is just sadness and fear, and do something with it.”