Jay Leno Apologizes For Years Of Racist Jokes Targeted At The Asian Community

Former late-night talk show host Jay Leno is apologizing for his years of jokes targeted at the Asian community. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, an increased number of hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S have been committed.

A recent report released by Stop AAPI Hate revealed that there have been at least 3,795 hate incidents targeting the AAPI community from March 19, 2020, to Feb. 28, 2021. More than 500 of those incidences have occurred in 2021.

Jay Leno sat down with Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) leader Guy Aoki for a February Zoom call to address some of his racist comments.

Many of his remarks centered around the stereotype of Korean people consuming dog meat.

"At the time I did those jokes, I genuinely thought them to be harmless," the 70-year-old said during the call, according to a MANAA press release. "I was making fun of our enemy North Korea, and like most jokes, there was a ring of truth to them."

"At the time, there was a prevailing attitude that some group is always complaining about something, so don't worry about it," he continued.

"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."

He went on to say his accountability is not because of cancel culture.

"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."

The comedian's much-awaited apology comes after years of the advocacy group calling him out for his public jokes about Korean people.

The racially targetted jokes, which date back as far as 2002, were called out most recently by Gabrielle Union in 2019 who spoke out about him making a derogatory comment while they were filming America's Got Talent.

h/t: People