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BTS speak out against anti-Asian hate crimes in White House visit: 'It's not wrong to be different'

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K-pop superstars BTS made their first-ever visit to the White House on Tuesday, delivering remarks about Asian inclusion and representation on the last day of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Introduced by press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, the group took turns behind the microphone to speak about the surge of anti-Asian hate crimes fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic and the unifying power of music. "It's a great honor to be invited to to the White House today to discuss important issues of anti-Asian hate crimes, Asian inclusion, and diversity," RM began.

"We are devastated by the recent surge of hate crimes, including Asian American hate crimes," Jimin added. "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 said. "We believe music is always an amazing and wonderful unifier of all things."

BTS at the White House
BTS at the White House

SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images BTS at the White House

"It's not wrong to be different," Suga said. "Equality opens up when we embrace all of our differences."

V 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."

The Grammy-nominated musical group — RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook — also met with President Joe Biden in the Oval Office to address the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes.

"Hate only hides. When good people talk about it and say how bad it is, it goes down," President Biden told the group, adding "People care a lot about what you say, and what you are doing is good for all people. It's not just your good talent. It's the message you are communicating. It matters."

Attacks against the AAPI community have been on the rise since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. As of December 2021, there have been more than 10,900 documented hate incidents, including physical assault, verbal harassment, and civil rights violations, according to Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition created to track and respond to such incidents.

Last May, President Biden signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which expedites the Justice Department's review of hate crimes and designates a department official to oversee the effort.

"President Biden has previously spoken about his commitment to combating the surge of anti-Asian hate 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 previously said in a statement about BTS' visit.

BTS were invited to discuss their "platform as youth ambassadors who spread a message of hope and positivity across the world" with the president during their meeting, the White House said.

The White House trip comes after BTS spoke out against anti-Asian violence and discrimination last year, following the three separate spa shootings in Atlanta that predominantly targeted Asian women. "We send our deepest condolences to those who have lost their loved ones," the group said in a statement. "We feel grief and anger."

Citing the moments that they've endured discrimination, BTS said, "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."

Their statement continued, "We stand against racial discrimination. We condemn violence. You, I, and we all have the right to be respected. We will stand together."

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