BTS Makes a Powerful Call To Fight Anti-Asian Racism
In a statement posted on the official BTS Twitter on Monday night, the global superstar K-pop group spoke out against anti-Asian racism and violence, sharing personal sentiments of the racism they've faced as young Asian men at the forefront of popular music across the world. "We send our deepest condolences to those who have lost their loved ones. We feel grief and anger," the statement began.
The band's vast fan base, ARMY, includes BTS lovers from all over the world, and many from America. The men of BTS do not routinely weigh in on issues that are recognized as endemic to the United States, such as racism and gun violence, though their songs often serve as forms of vital social commentary. They show their views and express support through action. BTS touched on their approach to American social issues for the Esquire Winter 2020 cover story. “We’re outsiders—we can’t really express what we feel about the United States,” V said at the time. But as writer Dave Holmes points out in the piece, BTS's "actions speak volumes; in the wake of the George Floyd murder and subsequent protests in America, the group made a $1 million donation with Big Hit Entertainment to Black Lives Matter, one that was matched by BTS ARMY."
Though BTS's Twitter statement did not name specific incidents, it comes after the March 16 mass shooting in Atlanta left six Asian women dead, a horrific act that is part of a larger surge in anti-Asian violence in the U.S. which has spiked nationwide since the start of the pandemic. "What is happening right now cannot be dissociated from our identity as Asians," the members of BTS wrote. They described the time it took to "discuss this carefully" and contemplate how they should voice their message. In the statement, BTS reflected on the pain of facing racism, sharing personal details about the instances of racism they've endured. "We recall moments when we faced discrimination as Asians. We have endured expletives without reason and were mocked for the way we look. We were even asked why Asians spoke in English," BTS wrote.
"We cannot put into words the pain of becoming the subject of hatred and violence for such a reason. Our own experiences are inconsequential compared to the events that have occurred over the past few weeks. But these experiences were enough to make us feel powerless and chip away our self-esteem," the statement said. BTS ended their statement with a call to action for their many fans to unite with them against anti-Asian racism and violence. "We stand against racial discrimination. We condemn violence. You, I and we all have the right to be respected. We will stand together."
Yet again, BTS raises the bar for what it means to be an international musical and pop cultural force for good—showing that if anyone deserves such astronomical fame and all the responsibility that comes with it, it's them. This statement is more than a few poignant words on social media; it's a powerful call to action from the biggest band in the world, whose legions of fans have proven their capacity to enact real change many times over. From their epic, fan-organized large-scale sabotage of Trump's June 2020 Tulsa rally, to their mobilization to raise $1 million dollars for Black Lives Matter, the BTS ARMY is a force for social good across the world. BTS knows this, and recognizes that now is the time to rally that power against anti-Asian racism and violence in the United States and beyond. Here are some resources and actions you can take to join BTS in the movement to combat racism and violence against the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by Esquiremag.ph editors.