Photo: NBC Chicago
On Tuesday, K-pop icon BTS visited the White House for the first time, delivering statements concerning Asian inclusion and representation on the final day of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
The group was introduced by press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, taking turns behind the microphone to talk about the rampant anti-Asian hate crimes prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the unifying influence of music.
“It’s a great honor to be invited to the White House today to discuss important issues of anti-Asian hate crimes, Asian inclusion, and diversity,” band leader RM started.
“We are devastated by the recent surge of hate crimes, including Asian American hate crimes,” Jimin then spoke. “We’d like to take the opportunity to voice ourselves once again.”
“We feel surprised that music created by South Korean artists reaches so many people around the world, transcending languages and cultural barriers,” Jungkook stated. “We believe music is always an amazing and wonderful unifier of all things.”
“It’s not wrong to be different,” Suga added. “Equality opens up when we embrace all of our differences.”
V then added, “Everyone has their own history. We hope today is one step forward to respecting and understanding each and every one as a valuable person.”
President Joe Biden has inked into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act last May. The law facilitates the Justice Department’s review of hate crimes and appoints a department head to administer the effort.
“President Biden has previously spoken about his commitment to combating the surge of anti-Asian crimes and signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act in May 2021 to provide law enforcement with resources to identify, investigate, and report hate crimes and ensure that hate crimes information is more accessible to AA and NHPI communities,” the White House said about BTS’ visit.
According to the White House statement, BTS will also talk about their “platform as youth ambassadors who spread a message of hope and positivity across the world” with the president during the meeting.
The White House visit came following BTS’ advocacy against anti-Asian violence and discrimination the previous year, after the three different spa shootings aimed at Asian women.
“We send our deepest condolences to those who have lost their loved ones,” the group said. “We feel grief and anger.”
“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,” said BTS, referring to moments that they’ve suffered discrimination.
The statement added, “We stand against racial discrimination. We condemn violence. You, I, and we all have the right to be respected. We will stand together.”