Jay Leno is stepping forward to take responsibility.
In the wake of last week’s shooting in Atlanta, and a rise in anti-Asian hate, the former late-night host is apologizing for years of anti-Asian jokes, Variety reported.
The apology came after a years-long campaign by the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, citing jokes as recent as 2020 from the set of “America’s Got Talent” about Koreans eating dog meat.
“At the time I did those jokes, I genuinely thought them to be harmless,” he said during Zoom call with MANAA leader Guy Aoki. “I was making fun of our enemy North Korea, and like most jokes, there was a ring of truth to them.”
He continued, At the time, there was a prevailing attitude that some group is always complaining about something, so don’t worry about it. 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.”
Speaking specifically about his apology, Leno said, “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.”
On Twitter, Leno’s apology was met with mixed response, with some applauding his candour, while others weren’t buying it.
I'm glad he apologized, but accountability must extend beyond an apology issued only after sb's public acts implicate their career/reputation. I hope @jayleno takes this opportunity to donate back some of the profits he's made at the expense of the AAPI community to #StopAAPIHate https://t.co/l8Baz7sZBA
— Chihiro I (@summerpreambles) March 24, 2021
Wish we lived in a culture where cracking a joke didn't get human beings killed, attacked or perpetuate at least a century of being scapegoated for problems they've not caused, but we don't. Thank you @jayleno for taking a stand. It is a conscious choice. #stopAsianhate pic.twitter.com/xzq0eQyVrG
— Michelle Krusiec 楊雅慧 (@michellekrusiec) March 24, 2021
— Nathan (@RealLife_Nathan) March 24, 2021
My alma mater would trip over itself to glowingly talk about how Jay Leno was an alumnus lmao https://t.co/ioTDCmfcar
— Dan Park 박정훈 (@damnparka) March 24, 2021
ET Canada stands with the Asian community in working together to stop anti-Asian racism in Canada, the United States, and around the world to #StopAsianHate.
Canadians can stay informed by following community groups and leaders, including but not limited to: https://nextshark.com/, https://www.dearasianyouth.org/home,
https://www.thepeahceproject.com/ and https://www.asianmhc.org/instagram-partners.
If you or someone you know is experiencing hate-crimes related to xenophobic attacks in Canada you can file a report at: https://www.elimin8hate.org/fileareport.
Bystander intervention training to anti-Asian and xenophobic harassment is available at: ihollaback.org/bystanderintervention/.