The golden boys of K-Pop are using their influence for good.
Ahead of their meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden on May 31st — the last day of AANHPI (Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander) Heritage Month— BTS made an appearance at the White House press conference to speak on the increase in hate crimes targeting Asians in recent years.
“Hi, we’re BTS, and it is a great honor to be invited to the White House today to discuss the important issues of anti-Asian hate crimes, Asian inclusion, and diversity,” said RM.
Jimin continued, “We were shocked and devastated by the recent surge in hate crimes against Asians. In the hopes of helping to put a stop to these kinds of crimes, we would like to take this opportunity to use our voices to speak up.”
“Just because something is different from me doesn’t mean that it’s wrong,” said Suga. “I think that equality begins with embracing our differences, instead of thinking of them in terms of right and wrong.”
Since the start of the pandemic over two years ago, attacks and hate crimes against Asian communities have surged in the Western world. Experts report this is largely due to the race-based rhetoric used— sometimes by leaders like former U.S. President Donald Trump— to describe the virus.
“When President Trump began and insisted on using the term ‘China virus,’ we saw that hate speech really led to hate violence,” said Russell Jeung. Jeung is the creator of the Stop AAPI Hate tracker which tracks hate incidents against Asian American Pacific Islander communities in the U.S. He is also chair of the Asian American studies department at San Francisco State University. “That sort of political rhetoric and that sort of anti-Asian climate has continued to this day.”
Since March 2020, thousands of Asian Americans have reported being the victim of a race-related hate crime.
With millions of eyes watching their every move, BTS‘ influence was certainly noted at today’s briefing. The room was apparently packed with what some White House correspondents have reportedly said was the largest number of journalists they’ve seen in months, if not years.