"America's Got Talent" judges Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough have been fired from the show, raising some concerns about the show's "toxic culture." Union and Hough reportedly received numerous notes regarding their physical appearance. The most prominent concern, however, is the allegations of racism and racist remarks on the show. Social media users have especially supported Gabrielle Union and believe that both Union and Hough were fired unjustly.
In an incident with guest judge Jay Leno, Leno commented on a painting of himself and Simon Cowell in which the two men are surrounded by dogs. He joked that the dogs were something that might be found "on the menu of a Korean restaurant." Many of those present at the time found the joke offensive, drawing on the stereotype of Asians, especially East Asians, eating dogs. While the joke was edited out of the episode, Gabrielle Union attempted to have producers report this incident to HR but was unsuccessful in doing so. Union's actions in this situation are said to have been a factor in her being fired.
Many members of the Asian-American community, especially Korean Americans, have praised Union for standing up for them and combating negative stereotypes against Asians. The dog-eater joke is one that much of the Asian-American community has grown tired of, and Union's speaking out about Leno's joke has led Asian Americans to support Union on social media as well as criticize the show and its producers. Both Union and Hough were also fired after comments on their physical appearance, with Union allegedly receiving comments that her hairstyles were "too black." While Union has acknowledged the support given to her and also implied that she would like an apology from NBC, Hough still seems to maintain a positive relationship with the channel.
Gabrielle Union's being fired after calling out a racist joke is an issue that is very concerning and deserves public attention. This situation has brought some of the problems with both the show and the network to light. Jokes like the one Jay Leno made have a long history in stereotyping Asian Americans and should not be taken lightly. In most cases, such jokes are harmful and only enforce stereotypes against Asians. The circumstances of Gabrielle Union losing her position with "America's Got Talent" show that these instances of racism and prejudice are more common than some might expect, and she definitely did not deserve to lose her job for speaking up.