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(From left to right) Howie Mandel, Gabrielle Union, Jay Leno, Julianne Hough, and Simon Cowell sit at the America's Got Talent judge panel

Asian Advocacy Groups Demand NBC to Fire Jay Leno After 'AGT' Allegations

Gettyimages | NBC
By Natalie Hunter

As the 'America's Got Talent' investigation goes under way, Jay Leno is being held accountable for racially insensitive jokes worldwide. According to [PopCulture,] ( two Asian Advocacy Groups, Asian Americans Advancing Justice and Media Action Network for Asian Americans, have even insisted that Leno be removed from the NBC network altogether.

The notion was initiated after Gabrielle Union spoke out against 'AGT' after she was let go along with Julianne Hough. She spoke out about instances of racial discrimination that occurred behind-the-scenes of the show.

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Giphy | Red Table Talk

She accused the producers of allowing a white man to audition performing an act that involved him impersonating a black woman and giving her notes about her hairstyles and outfits being "too black." She also claimed that Leno joked that Simon's painting of dogs could be found "on the menu at a Korean restaurant." Several Asian crew members were present for the joke.

John C. Yang, the president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, spoke to Variety on the issue.


"Jay Leno is a repeat offender in denigrating a part of our Asian American community and it must stop," Yang said.

Yang described racially insensitive jokes as "so toxic because it is intended to minimize a community and somehow make that community seem less civilized." Yang also referenced an instance during the 2002 Olympics in which Leno poked fun at a Korean skater joking that he would eat his dog after losing his race.

Yang went on to praise Union for speaking out on the matter.


"We applaud Gabrielle Union for not only calling out Leno’s behavior for what it is, but also more importantly for her willingness to stand up for a fellow community of color," Yang added.

Guy Aoki, founding president of Media Action Network for Asian Americans, also spoke out about the Leno controversy. Akoi commented on Leno's "bizarre fixation with Asians eating dogs," but approached the subject more aggressively than Yang. Akoi is urging for Jay Leno's CNBC show 'Jay Leno's Garage' to be canceled.

Giphy | Jay Leno's Garage

"It took two conference calls, countless meetings with NBC executives, even admonishment from a high ranking NBC executive and two advertiser campaigns to get Jay Leno to stop after 10 years. Given that after all this time, Leno has been an unrepentant repeat offender," Aoki said. "MANAA is asking NBC to end its business relationship with him."

NBC recently had a meeting with Union and Simon Cowell's production company. All parties described the 5-hour meeting as productive and NBC will continue to investigate the show.

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