OPINION: BTS can’t speak for Asian Americans
K-pop supergroup BTS met with President Joe Biden in the White House to discuss anti-Asian hate and diversity issues on May 31 in the face of alarming hate crimes against this community in the US.
The efficacy of having BTS, composed fully of citizens born and raised in Korea, to act as representatives to speak against discrimination facing the Asian American community, is questionable. Efforts to pass laws and regulations to protect Asian communities’ physical and mental well-being would be much more effective.
Anti-Asian hate crimes spiked by 146%, from 36 to 95 in America’s 16 largest counties in 2021, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. More than 57% of Asian Americans say they often feel unsafe in public because of their race, according to the Health Affairs Forefront.
Such statistics are clear proof that the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders community calls for further attention from the federal government in terms of policy making and news coverage.
BTS, not being Asian Americans themselves, cannot fully express the hardships facing the population. While possibly having faced racism in their career themselves, they obviously faced very different struggles living in Korea throughout the majority of their lifetime.
Having a boy band cover Asian inclusivity topics will undeniably warrant widespread media coverage over a short period of time, but will not directly tackle any intrinsic cause of deep-rooted racism against those of Asian ethnicities in the US.
The Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, which accelerated Asian xenophobia in the US, needs to be well understood. Similarly, recent cases of public officials blaming Asians for the pandemic created conducive environments for violence, requiring further attention.
Various Asian American celebrities have raised their voice to advocate against anti-Asian hate. Producer Daniel Dae Kim, actress Lana Condor and NBA player Jeremy Lin are exemplary voices in the effort to stop Asian hate.
More importantly, it is necessary that racial discrimination topics be tackled from its roots, starting with the efforts to gain a deep understanding of the issue.
Support systems for this group, such as a wide network of mental health resources across states, should be established to assist them in overcoming racial discrimination.
Biden inviting BTS to speak about anti-Asian hate topics brings no tangible effect. More pragmatic solutions, such as the invitation of Asian Americans to discuss these issues, must be implemented to support the community in this challenging time in history.