"America's Got Talent" host Nick Cannon claims he doesn't even know what "whiteface" is, despite the controversy surrounding his posting a photo of himself on Instagram dressed in his new whiteface character.
"Whiteface, if you look it up and Google it, it's a ski slope up in upstate New York," Cannon said today on " Good Morning America." "I don't really know what that is."
Cannon, who released the photo to promote his first album in more than a decade, "White People Party Music," said comparisons of his "character impression" to blackface are inaccurate.
"Blackface is a term that was created in 1869 to describe offensive minstrel shows," Cannon, who's married to singer Mariah Carey, said. "I was doing a character impression. Blackface is about oppression. If you really want to have that conversation, we can have conversation.
"To me," Cannon, 33, added, "this was to have fun and to put it out there. Yes, we have issues with race in this country and this world but it doesn't have to be about hatred."
In the photo of Cannon's controversial alter ego, he sported a flannel shirt, white paint on his face and hands and a wig. He also has glasses and a California surfer-dude accent.
"It's official… I'm White!!!" he wrote as the caption. "#WHITEPEOPLEPARTYMUSIC #Wppm in stores April 1st!!!!!!Dude Go Get It!!!Join The Party!!!! #GoodCredit #DogKissing #BeerPong #FarmersMarkets #FistPumping #CreamCheeseEating #RacialDraft "Bro I got drafted!!""
"It's really not that big of a deal" because "I'm an artist," he said on "GMA."
"I get the opportunity to create, as long as I can embrace it. Of course, everything is going to come with consequences and a little heat but if I can take the heat, let's ride."
The new album, which comes out Tuesday, is "a bunch of stuff that's probably going to cause controversy but it all comes from a good place," he said. "If you listen to the album, it's so funny."
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