BTS condemn anti-Asian racism: 'We feel grief and anger'

Following the Atlanta shootings, the K-pop group shared their experiences of discrimination and called for respect and solidarity

The K-pop group BTS has condemned anti-Asian racism in the wake of growing incidents of violence and discrimination against Asian people.

The vastly influential seven-piece paid tribute to the eight victims of the recent shootings at three Atlanta massage parlours, who included six Asian women. “We feel grief and anger,” they wrote in a statement published on social media.

“What is happening right now cannot be dissociated from our identity as Asians,” they wrote.

“You, I and we all have the right to be respected. We will stand together.”

The group recounted their own experiences of discrimination. “We have endured expletives without reason and were mocked for the way we look. We were even asked why Asians spoke in English.”

They described being the targets of such “hatred and violence” as difficult to put into words, but “inconsequential” compared with recent events, among them the stabbing of a Chinese man in New York’s Chinatown last month.

Nonetheless, they wrote, “these experiences were enough to make us feel powerless and chip away our self-esteem”.

Last week, the Economist reported that the pandemic had sparked a rise in anti-Asian bigotry, with one quarter of Asian Americans saying that they have feared for their safety.

Nevertheless, incidences of violence against Asian Americans have often not been charged as hate crimes. The director of the FBI has said the Atlanta shootings did not appear to have been racially motivated.

Georgia senator Raphael Warnock responded at an event on 21 March: “We all know hate when we see it.”

The reach of BTS is considerable, with 34 million Twitter followers and 39.2 million Instagram followers on their official band accounts, not to mention their individual profiles. The statement has been retweeted almost 800,000 times on Twitter.

In 2018, it was reported that they were worth more than $3.6bn (£2.6bn) annually to the South Korean economy. In 2017, they were the reason why one in every 13 foreign tourists visited the country.


Laura Snapes

The GuardianTramp

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