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Nick Cannon Quits America's Got Talent After Threats of Firing over Race Joke

Read his statement

Sadie Gennis

Nick Cannon announced that he's leaving America's Got Talent, after NBC threatened to fire him over jokes he made during a Showtime comedy special.

"I find myself in a dark place having to make a decision that I wish I didn't have to, but as a man, an artist, and a voice for my community I will not be silenced, controlled or treated like a piece of property. There is no amount of money worth my dignity or my integrity," Cannon wrote on Facebook Monday morning. "I have loved hosting AMERICAS GOT TALENT for the last 8 seasons, watching talented, brave, and courageous Americans accomplish their dreams in front of millions has been nothing but a joy, and everyone has been a pleasure to work with but my soul won't allow me to be in business with corporations that attempt to frown on freedom of speech, censor artists, and question cultural choices."

In Cannon's third comedy special Stand Up, Don't Shoot, which premiered on Friday, Cannon joked about the difference between his AGT persona and his stand-up, which is far more explicit. Cannon joked that if he said what he really was thinking while hosting AGT, it would "mess up the white money," but that he wasn't going to hold back onstage.

"Matter of fact, that's what NBC gonna stand for tonight," Cannon told the crowd, according to Decider. "N----r Better Come on, 'cause n----rs be cussing. So n---a be careful."

TMZ previously reported that NBC considered firing Cannon over his jokes in the special, but that they decided to let the comments slide. However, Cannon came to the conclusion that he didn't want to work in an environment where he felt his freedom of speech was going to be impaired -- particularly when it came to speaking out about issues regarding race.

​Nick Cannon, America's Got Talent
Trae Patton/NBC

"After days of deliberating over some extremely disappointing news that I was being threatened with termination by Executives because of a comedy special that was only intended to bring communities closer together, I was to be punished for a joke. This has weighed heavy on my spirit," Cannon explained. "It was brought to my attention by my 'team' that NBC believed that I was in breach of contract because I had disparaged their brand. In my defense, I would ask how so? Or is this just another way to silence and control an outspoken voice who often battles the establishment."

Cannon mentioned that this wasn't the first time NBC executives tried to "put [him] in [his] place," but that he wishes AGT and the network the best in its upcoming twelfth season. He just doesn't want to be a part of it anymore.

"Most of us don't realize that there are 6 major corporations that control 90 percent of media in America and the amount of minority executives is dismal. With this being the case, true equality in our industry is impossible," Cannon explained. "There will always be a 'do as I say' mentality that mirrors society's perception of women and minorities, and only a few will stand up against it. I proudly stand as one of those few, and will gladly take on whatever repercussions that come with it. I love art and entertainment too much to watch it be ruined by controlling corporations and big business. I believe It's our duty as artists to make a difference and create change even if it's one act at a time. Dr. King said it best, 'Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.'"

TVGuide.com has reached out to NBC for comment.