Former talk show host and comedian Jay Leno apologized recently for making anti-Asian jokes throughout the entirety of his decades-long career.
The apology came during a zoom call with Media Action Network for Asian Americans, which has been calling on Leno to cut it out for 15 years.
“At the time I did those jokes, I genuinely thought them to be harmless,” Leno told MANAA leader Guy Aoki, according to Variety, regarding 2020 comments about North Korean people eating dog meat. “I was making fun of our enemy North Korea, and like most jokes, there was a ring of truth to them.”
The United State is not currently at war with North Korea, but its citizens are some of the most nutrition-deficient people on the planet. The stereotype that Asian people eat dogs has a well-documented, racist history.
“At the time, there was a prevailing attitude that some group is always complaining about something, so don’t worry about it,” Leno added. “Whenever we received a complaint, there would be two sides to the discussion: Either ‘We need to deal with this’ or ‘Screw ‘em if they can’t take a joke.’ Too many times I sided with the latter even when in my heart I knew it was wrong.”
“I am issuing this apology. I do not consider this particular case to be another example of cancel culture but a legitimate wrong that was done on my part. MANAA has been very gracious in accepting my apology. I hope that the Asian American community will be able to accept it as well, and I hope I can live up to their expectations in the future.”
According to Variety, MANNA secured the meeting after making a plea to Fox. Leno currently hosts the game show “You Bet Your Life” on the network.
The apology comes after a shooting spree in Atlanta that killed eight, including six Asian women.
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