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Jay Leno apologizes for jokes about Asians

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Jay Leno this week apologized for jokes he told over the course of his career that targeted Asian Americans.

During a Zoom call with the leader of activist group Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA), Leno discussed his past jokes, which invoked multiple stereotypes about the Asian community, and said that at the time he did not find them to be problematic, according to Variety.

“At the time I did those jokes, I genuinely thought them to be harmless,” Leno told 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.”

Leno also reportedly admitted that in the past he routinely brushed off criticism and backlash he received as a result of his jokes. 

“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,” he said, according to the outlet.

“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,” Leno continued. 

Violence against Asian Americans has seen a surge during the coronavirus pandemic, which many have attributed to rhetoric that placed blame on China.

Multiple Asian American leaders and community members have voiced outrage concerning the increase in attacks against their communities in recent weeks, following a shooting rampage at three Asian-owned spas in Georgia killing eight people, six of whom were Asian women.

Tags Asian Americans Jay Leno

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