K-pop boy band BTS meets US President at White House, discusses surge in anti-Asian crimes
K-Pop sensation BTS met US President Joe Biden at the White House to discuss the rising cases of hate crimes against South Asians in the US.
Band members J-Hope, RM, Suga, Jungkook, V, Jin and Jimin held a 35-minute-long meeting with the US president on Tuesday and discussed anti-Asian hate crimes and Asian inclusion.
Group leader RM thanked the US president for signing a recent legislation on combating COVID-19 hate crimes in the country.“We want to say thank you, sincerely, for your decision such as signing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law. So, we just want to be a little help and we truly appreciate the White House and government’s (efforts) trying to find solutions,” he added.
Before the meeting with the president, BTS joined White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at her briefing with reporters.
Jimin said the band had been “devastated by the recent surge” of crime and intolerance against Asian Americans.“To put a stop to this and support the cause, we’d like to take this opportunity to voice ourselves once again,” he said through an interpreter.
Equality begins when we open up and embrace all of our differences, said Suga. “It’s not wrong to be different,” he added.
V said, “Everyone has his or her own history. We hope today is one step forward to respecting and understanding each and every one as a valuable person.”According to The Associated Press, the Biden administration has spent recent weeks holding roundtable discussions and other meetings with Asian American leaders to discuss the violence.BTS, known for hit Korean songs such as Black Swan, Boy With Luv, and Life Goes On as well as English singles Dynamite and Butter, has been vocal about the incidents of racial discrimination and violence towards Asian people in the West.
Two years ago, the band along with their management agency Big Hit Entertainment donated USD 1 million to Black Lives Matter foundation following the killing of George Floyd.In 2017, the group also partnered with UNICEF to launch ‘Love Myself’, an anti-violence campaign.As special presidential envoy for future generations from their native South Korea, last September BTS addressed the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and also performed their English single Permission to Dance at the UN headquarters.
Since 2020, the anti-Asian hate crimes have been on the rise in the US, especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
In March 2021, eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were killed at three Atlanta-area massage parlours by a 21-year-old gunman.
At the time, BTS had reacted to the incident and tweeted, “We stand against racial discrimination”, and used the hashtags #StopAsianHate and #StopAAPIHate.“We condemn violence. You, I and we all have the right to be respected. We will stand together,” they had posted.
In a video posted on the president’s official Twitter handle, President Biden told the group that there has been a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in the US in recent times.“Hate only hides. When good people talk about it and say how bad it is, it goes down,” he said.“People care a lot about what you say, and what you are doing is good for all people. It's not just your good talent. It's the message you are communicating. It matters,” Biden added.