Making amends! Jay Leno has apologized for the anti-Asian he has made throughout his career. 

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“At the time I did those jokes, I genuinely thought them to be harmless,” the 70-year-old said in a joint statement released on Wednesday, March 24, with activist group Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA). He apologized to the network verbally over a Zoom call with head of MANAA Guy Aoki

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previously dismissed the criticism of the remarks made where he joked about Asians eating dogs because he was he was “making fun of our enemy North Korea, and like most jokes, there was a rung of truth to them.”

Leno was criticized in 2019 for joking that Koreans eat dog meat when he was a guest judge on America’s Got Talent while Aoki reportedly complained to The Tonight Show advertisers in 2012 because he felt that Leno’s jokes were part of the problem where Asian Americans were “subjected to ridicule, disdain and abuse” and “resulted in a rise in racial profiling and hate crimes against Asians, Asian Americans and immigrants.”

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“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,” Leno explained.

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“I’m happy that came around, and that we will be working together in the future.  We look forward to supporting Jay’s efforts to do a better job at using his public platform to stamp out systemic racism towards the AAPI community,” Rob Chan of the MANAA said.  

Variety was the first to report on Leno’s apology. 

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