President Joe Biden has invited K-pop stars BTS to the White House for a conversation about anti-Asian hate crimes and discrimination. The discussion will be held on Tuesday, May 31 — the last day of AAPI Heritage Month — the White House announced Thursday.
The supergroup BTS, based in South Korea, is known among fans to be politically engaged and has made several large donations to Black Lives Matter, UNICEF, and South Korea’s first ALS hospital. The group also raised funds to support musicians during COVID-19, and the pop stars often celebrate their birthdays with fans by donating to causes they individually care about, such as museums or children’s cancer.
Last year, two weeks after the Atlanta spa shooting, BTS released a statement speaking out against the rising wave of anti-Asian violence, recalling their own experiences with racism in the West.
“We have endured expletives without reason and were mocked for the way we looked,” they wrote on Twitter. “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.”
Anti-Asian hate crimes have been on the rise since the start of the pandemic, particularly those targeting women and older adults. This month, a shooter opened fire on a Taiwanese Christian church in California, killing one person and injuring five others. A string of shootings at Asian-owned businesses in Dallas were believed to be hate crimes connected to one suspect. Earlier this year, New York City saw a spate of horrific anti-Asian hate crimes including a series of assaults on seven Asian women in the span of two hours and the brutal stabbing death of a 35-year-old Korean American woman.
According to the White House, BTS and Biden will discuss “the importance of diversity and inclusion” as well as BTS’ role as youth ambassadors “who spread a message of hope and positivity across the world." It’s unclear whether this will be a video call or an in-person meeting. Fans have already begun rejoicing and sharing their excitement for the group.
Biden has often invited celebrities to discuss various social issues. Last week, pop star Selena Gomez was at the White House for a conversation about youth and mental health, and last July singer Olivia Rodrigo sat down with Biden and Anthony Fauci to talk about the importance of young Americans getting vaccinated.