September 17, 2019
For Immediate Release
David Inoue, Executive Director
Sarah Baker, VP Public Affairs
JACL is grateful for NBC’s decision to withdraw Shane Gillis from the cast of Saturday Night Live (SNL). JACL and other community organizations, including the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition (of which JACL is a member), have communicated with NBC executives that comedians absolutely must not resort to racism, sexism, or heterosexism for laughs, and in fact, the reliance on such tropes is hurtful and anything but funny. Given the depth and breadth of offensive material coming to light and lack of sincere contrition for his past work, Mr. Gillis’ presence on the cast was unacceptable. We appreciate their accountability to communities of color and hope that Mr. Gillis will take this opportunity to re-craft his repertoire.
JACL looks forward to the upcoming 45th season of Saturday Night Live where comedian Bowen Yang will make his debut as a regular cast member. Yang has served as a writer for the show for a year, but this will be a much more prominent and important role for him bringing an Asian face to a program that has been making strides in expanding the diversity of its cast to better reflect who we are as a country.
Monday night also saw the premier of “A Little Late with Lilly Singh.” JACL welcomes the addition of a little melanin in our late night and are encouraged by the many positive messages in the opening musical piece. Ms. Singh showed how ethnicity and race can be a powerful positive element in comedy.
We applaud NBC for affirming the importance of diversity in its late night programming with its elevation of Mr. Bowen and Ms. Singh and recognizing and rejecting the racism underlying significant elements of the past work of Mr. Gillis.
JACL is a member of the Comcast NBC Universal Joint External Diversity Advisory Council.
The Japanese American Citizens League is a national organization whose ongoing mission is to secure and maintain the civil rights of Japanese Americans and all others who are victimized by injustice and bigotry. The leaders and members of the JACL also work to promote cultural, educational and social values and preserve the heritage and legacy of the Japanese American community.