In tweets, Mr. Yang also reiterated that he had been the target of racial epithets in the past. Asked about his jokes about liking math and knowing doctors, he has maintained that the Asian-American community is diverse, that his individual experience does not speak for everyone and that Americans are smart enough to see through the model minority myth, which overgeneralizes Asians as diligent and high-achieving.
In an interview on Monday with The New York Times just hours before Mr. Gillis was dropped from “S.N.L.,” Mr. Yang said he had not meant to compare his experience as an Asian-American to “the experience of growing up black in this country.” He said he had intended only to make an “observation” about anti-Asian racism and the fact that it is not always taken seriously.
Mr. Yang said he and his wife had sat down to watch Mr. Gillis’s comedy routines for 30 minutes to an hour and had concluded that he was not “malignant or evil.” He also said he had resisted sending a tweet containing an explicative that would have more forcefully expressed his anger at Mr. Gillis.
“There’s a complex set of reactions one has,” Mr. Yang said.
He said that someone had yelled a slur at him out a car window “just the other day” and added that he had talked to his wife about the experience. He said they had bemoaned the fact that such a slur could eventually be directed at one of their boys.
Mr. Yang also denied that there were any politics at play. “This is both how I genuinely see this and what I think is best,” he said. “I totally respect people who have different points of view.”
Danielle Seid, an assistant professor of English at Baruch College who studies film and television history, said Mr. Yang had definitely found himself “in a tough spot.” He had been right to point out that anti-Asian racism has often not been treated seriously, she said, but he may not have done “a good job of parsing that with his tweets about the n-word.”
Mr. Yang’s comments could have been read as an argument that “Asians have it worse” than other minority groups, when “it’s pretty clear that, in terms of racist policies and practices and culture in the United States, so much of it is founded on anti-black racism,” said, Ellen Wu, an associate professor of history at Indiana University.