This past weekend, there were anti-Asian racism protests in several major cities across Canada and the United States. In Los Angeles, a youth group performed towards the end of the rally to BTS’s “Dynamite”. For some time now, BTS members RM, Jin, Suga, j-hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook have been the most prominent Asian artists in the pop culture space. They and their ARMY are major forces on social media. And they posted on Twitter today, addressing the rise of anti-Asian hate, sharing their own experiences, and adding their support to the #StopAsianHate movement:
BTS’s statement comes exactly a month after at German radio host made headlines for a racist rant on the air against the band, comparing them to a virus. This happened just days after the group’s triumphant MTV Unplugged performance, a moment that should have only been joy and celebration that ended up being marred by hate. They didn’t directly address the issue at the time but when you read what they said in that Twitter post, there’s no doubt that they were aware of what went down. And there’s no doubt that that wasn’t the only time. Over the course of their almost decade-long career, having broken down barriers around the world, they could probably fill a thick burn book of racist encounters and microaggressions (if they were the petty types, and they’re not).
But, as they clarify in their statement, this is not about them, but about being able to relate – which is always how BTS leads: with empathy over ego. The intent of their message is let people know, especially those who are their fans, that they feel the same pain. And to definitively make clear that…
“We stand against racial discrimination.
We condemn violence.
You, I, and we all have the right to be respected. We will stand together.”
Which is exactly what they said last summer, a few weeks after the killing of George Floyd.
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We stand against racial discrimination.
We condemn violence.
You, I and we all have the right to be respected. We will stand together.#BlackLivesMatter
You’ll recall, a few days after they posted this message, the band made a $1 million donation to Black Lives Matter which was then matched by ARMY in 24 hours. BTS’s tweet today re-amplified the hashtag #StopAsianHate which has been trending all day. Many if not most major western media outlets have covered their statement which keeps anti-Asian racism in the conversation exactly two weeks to the day the Atlanta shootings took place. And this is just the work that we can see. Not all of BTS’s contributions are made public. The story of their visit with families of the victims of the Sewol ferry tragedy in 2014 wasn’t revealed until 2020, six years after it happened, and not even by them. So there’s no doubt that there’s been effort behind the scenes that we may or may not hear about.
Meanwhile, if you haven’t already, here’s some more BTS-related content going viral today. This is Mionna and she’s experiencing some serious health struggles. But with the support of her mother and the music of BTS, she’s working her way back. Heads up: you will cry.