The world has been watching the United States closely these past few weeks, rightfully so – we’ve effectively imploded. Centuries of mistreatment of Black people have come to a head as, even with COVID-19, people are taking to the streets in droves to protest. Those who haven’t taken to the streets are still voicing their support, often through social media and donations. People in other countries worldwide are supporting the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement too, standing with BLM while they face down police brutality at protests against police brutality.
I do not frequently post about politics; however, if you know me in real life, you will know that I have very strong beliefs and will drop everything for a political debate. I was raised very liberal, having grown up in a multicultural household and having gone to a diverse private school Washington, DC. Nevertheless, my efforts are mostly focused on researching current events and movements so that I can be a better ally to the people in my life.
But right now, I feel an urge to speak.
One of the surprising forces throughout the past two weeks has, in fact, been the K-Pop fan base. K-Pop stans have been flooding hashtags like #whitelivesmatter and #maga with fancams of artists they love so that it’s harder to find anti-BLM posts. When the Dallas Police Department asked people to send in videos of protesters in “illegal activity,” K-Pop fans crashed the app by sending fancams in instead. And when BTS promised a million dollar donation to BLM, K-Pop fans matched that donation in twenty four hours.
K-Pop is by no means perfect – it has its own problems with racism, colorism, and cultural appropriation. I’m not going to pretend those issues don’t exist, especially after being a K-pop fan for seven years and seeing artists like PRISTIN’s Kyla get undue hate for no reason whatsoever. All K-Pop fans should do their due diligence and research the history of these issues in the industry in order to be a responsible listener and consumer of this music.
What I will say, though, is that the world of K-Pop has become a distinctly unifying force since it hit the global stage. The common appreciation of the artistry of Korean Pop has brought people together from across the globe, creating a common point of reference we can all identify with on some level. People are not only invested in the bands themselves, but the history and environment those bands are a part of. And even if you’re not a fan at all, there is still a level of mutual appreciation due to quality of the body of work.
K-Pop became a force to be reckoned with, by virtue of creating something many people can enjoy.
The platform that K-Pop has created for issues is honestly extremely strong. Whether you’re a BTS fan or an EXO fan or a TWICE fan, there is still a level of trust based on the shared experience of enjoying art together. The fact that everyone enjoys the same thing, the specific bands one “stans” coming down mostly to personal preference, means that the capacity for unity is extremely powerful.
Things are still bad in the United States. They won’t stop being bad unless action is taken. And it’s not just small things like the murderers of George Floyd being charged for their crimes – the issues of systemic racism are broad, plaguing our whole country in every conceivable way. But seeing K-Pop fans from around the world coming together to put a stop to some of these horrors, using their platform to promote a message of togetherness and solidarity – it gives me hope.
If you won’t sleep on your favorite groups, don’t sleep on these issues. Let’s dismantle the systems of oppression that try to pull us apart, and break down the barriers between us.