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- MANAA, a group that seeks to improve the depiction of Asian Americans in the media, recalled the detailed history of racist jokes Leno made against Asian people between 2002 and 2012.
- One was about Koreans eating dogs in 2019 on the set of “America’s Got Talent,” as NextShark previously reported.
- In 2019, MANAA’s founding president Guy Aoki called out Leno for being “an unrepentant repeat offender and still has a bizarre fixation with Asians eating dogs.”
- MANAA has reportedly made multiple attempts to have a direct conversation with Leno and NBC to address the issue over the years but failed to do so.
- In February, Aoki, MANAA President Rob Chan and Vice President Lawrence Lim met with Leno over a Zoom call, where the comedian apologized and pledged to do better.
- In a statement, Leno said he “genuinely thought [the jokes] to be harmless. 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 groups are 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.’ “
- “I do not consider this particular case to be another example of cancel culture but a legitimate wrong that was done on my part,” he explained.
- Leno also expressed “shock and sadness” amid the rise of anti-Asian hate incidents in the U.S.
- “I would be deeply hurt and ashamed if somehow my words did anything to incite this violence. With MANAA’s help, I would like to do what I can to help the healing process,” he said.
- Leno added that while MANAA accepted his apology gracefully, he hopes 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.”
- Chan said that he’s “happy that Jay came around,” noting that the group will support Leno’s efforts to “do a better job at using his public platform to stamp out systemic racism towards the AAPI community.”
- The group has helped Leno find an Asian American guest for the upcoming season of his reality show “Jay Leno’s Garage.”