The Sister Act star told the audience she was grateful to return to the show after her suspension, and promised she wouldn’t be shying away from “tough conversations”.
The actress and comedian, 66, was suspended from the American talk show at the start of the month, after claiming the Holocaust – the genocide of European Jews during World War II which took place from 1941 to 1945 – had nothing to do with race.
Whoopi’s controversial comments came about when she and her co-stars were discussing the US school board’s decision to ban Maus – a graphic novel about the experiences of a Holocaust survivor.
“Let’s be truthful – the Holocaust isn’t about race. It’s about man’s inhumanity to man – that’s what it’s about,” Whoopi said on The View earlier this month.
As one of her co-host’s insisted the Holocaust was “about white supremacy”, Whoopi replied: “But these are two white groups of people. You’re missing the point.
“The minute you turn it into race, it goes down this alley. Let’s talk about it for what it is – it’s how people treat each other. It’s a problem. It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, because black, white, Jews – everybody eats each other.”
Her comment elicited outrage and she apologised.
In an emotional statement posted hours after the show aired, Whoopi said: “On today’s show I said the Holocaust ‘is not about race, but about man’s inhumanity to man’. I should have said it is about both.”
“As Jonathan Greenblatt from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) shared, ‘The Holocaust was about the Nazi’s systematic annihilation of the Jewish people – who they deemed to be an inferior race’. I stand corrected.”
She added: “The Jewish people around the world have always had my support and that will never waiver. I am sorry for the hurt I have caused. Written with my sincerest apologies. Whoopi Goldberg.”
ABC News President Kim Godwin suspended Whoopi despite the star’s swift apology.
Returning to the show on Monday February 14, Whoopi addressed her absence straight away, while pledging not to back away from tackling tough topics on-air going forward.
“Welcome to The View. And yes, I am back,” the returning star greeted the audience and viewers as she opened the show.
“There’s something kind of marvelous about being on a show like this. We are The View and this is what we do. Sometimes we don’t do this as elegantly as we could, and sometimes, well yeah.”
The EGOT winner added that she appreciated everyone who reached out to her during her two-week suspension, and revealed she had been doing “a lot of listening” during her time away from The View.
“We’re gonna keep having tough conversations,” she went on to promise those tuned in.
“And in part, because this is what we were hired to do,” Whoopi continued.
“It’s not always pretty. And it’s not always as other people would like to hear, but it is an honour to sit at this table and be able to have these conversations because they’re important.”