“We are still surprised that the music created by South Korean artists has reached so many people around the world, transcending languages and cultural barriers. We believe that music is always an amazing and wonderful unifier of all things,” said Jungkook while speaking at the podium at The White House. That’s right, BTS, the biggest pop sensation in the world, is making waves yet again. And this time around? It was for a distinguished visit to The White House: joining President Joe Biden in The Oval Office to discuss Asian inclusion, representation and address anti-Asian hate crimes that have been on a rise over the years.
It was great to meet with you, @bts_bighit. Thanks for all you’re doing to raise awareness around the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes and discrimination.
I look forward to sharing more of our conversation soon. pic.twitter.com/LnczTpT2aL
— President Biden (@POTUS) June 1, 2022
From March 2020 to December 2021 alone, 10,905 hate crime incidents were reported to Stop AAPI Hate (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders), led by openly verbal harassment in public areas. As part of his ongoing commitment to combating the surge of anti-Asian hate crimes, President Biden had previously signed into law the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act, an act, which BTS’s leader Namjoon (RM) thanked him for during their discussion. But whilst law enforcement and resources are indeed crucial for the affected communities, the movement is one that is necessarily held in the social sphere. More honest conversations need to happen, more people need to be held accountable for their actions (and words), and more openly inclusive spaces need to be provided for. And perhaps, that’s exactly where the power of BTS comes in.
Record-breaking album sales aside, RM, Suga, Jin, J-Hope, V, Jimin and Jungkook have long been touted as beacons of positive influence and empowerment over the years. Their “Love Myself” campaign work as UNICEF ambassadors—seeking to urge youth against discrimination since 2017—is not only testament to this, but also exposes one of the core messages (read: self-love) the band has always advocated for in their music. In a similar vein, the septet has made sure to go further with their philanthropic efforts, standing up against racial discrimination along the way. Their stance of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 was definitely one of them: considering the 1 million USD donation amount that was swiftly matched by their ARMY fanbase within the next 25 hours. Their steadfast support for the #StopAsianHate movement came as no surprise either—in light of their increasing openness with speaking up about the xenophobia and racially-charged comments they had faced during their promotions in Western countries.
— 방탄소년단 (@BTS_twt) March 30, 2021
All things considered, The White House’s invitation made perfect sense for the boys of #BTS. For a group of once-upon-a-time small town boys from South Korea, their astronomical reach into the global scene has undoubtedly placed them in a unique position to not only share about their own lived experiences, but to inspire entire audiences towards acceptance and understanding for each others’ differences. In Suga’s words: “It’s not wrong to be different, equality starts when we open up and embrace all our differences.”
And rightfully so. With a strongly-willed desire, their confidence rings through as they speak their native language on the monumental podium. Proceeding into The Oval Office shortly after, they were met with President Joe Biden himself, who welcomed the group with open arms prior to their discussion. “It’s not just your great talent, it’s the message you’re communicating. It matters.” We can’t help but agree.