Respect Must be Earned: BTS’ Journey Towards Gaining its Stripes in Black America

K-pop group BTS

By Guest Contributor: Monique Jones (@moniqueblognet)

A version of this post first appeared on Just Add Color.

When I first wrote my article about BTS coming to the American Music Awards, I was excited to see this famous K-pop group that I’d heard so much about. I was happy that they would have the chance to perform on a major international stage like the AMAs. I believed that this appearance would serve as the biggest stepping stone yet for K-pop’s eventual domination of American airwaves. As I wrote on Twitter after BTS’ performance (and after I saw the crowd whipped into a frenzy), this must have been what seeing the Beatles for the first time was like.

BTS has been on a roll since their big AMAs debut. They’ve hob-knobbed with R&B it-boy Khalid, and they have released a track featuring Desiigner and Steve Aoki,”Mic Drop”. Everything’s going well; or, it’s going well for BTS, anyways.

The rest of K-pop, however, still hasn’t really “made it” in the States. While one might speculate as to the many reasons why K-pop has failed to penetrate the American music landscape — language barriers; stereotypes about Asian performers held by music executives; general American disinterest towards international music that isn’t British or Canadian — one major reason deserves more discussion: K-pop, as a whole, has a race problem.

So, how is BTS overcoming it?

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Yes, All Women. Asian-American Women, Too.’s Tammy Chao, Grace Choi, and Annie Shin created the site as a resource for women who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. (Photo credit: Huffington Post)’s Tammy Cho, Grace Choi, and Annie Shin created the site as a resource for women who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. (Photo credit: Huffington Post)

By Guest Contributor: Tiffany J. Huang (@tiffjhuang)

In recent weeks, a cascade of sexual harassment accusations against powerful men has reached seemingly every corner of the public sphere. But this outpouring of stories about workplace sexual harassment isn’t new. In 2012, one workplace harassment case, brought forth by an Asian American woman working in venture capital, inspired scores of women to step forward with their own stories of sexual harassment in the workplace. Yet these stories, often told by other Asian American women, have not entered the national conversation about workplace sexual harassment with anything resembling the level of attention now being granted to the issue.

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Anti-Asian hate is not welcome in politics

An uncredited mailer sent to residents of Edison, New Jersey. (Photo credit:

By Guest Contributor:  Christine Chen, Executive Director of APIAVote (@apiavote)

Edison town council member Sapana Shah realized something was wrong the moment she checked social media, learning that she and her neighbors received the same anti-Asian mailer Wednesday which featured a “deport” stamp on the photos of two Asian school board candidates. The postcard also read, “The Chinese and Indians are taking over our town.”

Targeting candidates based on bias and hate toward various ethnic, racial or religious identity is not new. And Shah is no stranger to it as a candidate. She recounted multiple incidents to me over the phone. Shah, a long-time resident in the Edison township of Middlesex County, New Jersey, was told to go back to her country when she ran for local elected office. She once found her campaign signs inscribed with the words “dot head,” an offensive racial slur. As a town council member, Shah endured insults from residents who shouted her down at the end of a public meeting for voting to include Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, as a school holiday.

When individuals are targets of hate, it not only affects them but also entire communities.

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My #MeToo Story: A Childhood Changed

(Photo credit: Flickr / Ole Husby)

By Guest Contributor: Renee Ya (@dnldreams)

(Editor’s Note: Last week, survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault took to social media to trend the #metoo hashtag with their stories. This is one of those stories.)

Is it fucked up that my #metoo story is also one of my earliest memories? In all, I can recall only about four memories from before I started kindergarten, most of them are relatively innocent.

In one memory, my father and I walk down the street of my childhood neighborhood. We were walking towards to the model homes. I was probably two years old.

In another, I run to the bathroom to grab my father some toilet paper. He had cut his finger making us food.

Then, there is the memory of me trying to drink water out of a chopstick. There is even a photo to substantiate my recollections of that moment. My babysitter, whom I love dearly, thinks it would be so funny if they switch out my straw for a chopstick. When I try to drink out of my straw-but-not-a-straw, nothing comes out. I start crying. I am maybe eight months old.

These are the innocent memories formed of a childhood that should have remained innocent.

But then, there is that last memory. It is night time. I don’t see any details of the faces of those crowded outside. I am locked in the cab of an old, beat-up, white pickup truck. Inside the truck, it is just me and my cousin, who is two months older than me.

Is it still sexual assault if no one touches you?

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#HollywoodSoWhite: How Lack of On-Screen Diversity Perpetuates White Supremacy

Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One in “Dr. Strange” (Photo credit: YouTube).

By Guest Contributor: Martin Tsai

This post originally appeared on Medium.

By almost single-mindedly catering to a young, white, male audience, Hollywood has been complicit in fostering and perpetuating white hegemony.

The Hollywood Diversity Report by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA found only 29 percent of films released in 2015 featured female leads and only 13.6 percent featured minority leads. A USC Annenberg study of the 700 top-grossing films between 2007 and 2014 (excluding 2011) and their more than 30,000 characters revealed that diversity in casting remained stagnant. White male moviegoers are seldom required to identify or empathize with female or minority characters, something female and minority moviegoers have little choice but to do with white male characters.

We learn from watching. If dramas are developmental exercises in identification and empathy in our formative years, one can easily surmise why many white men — such as those who take part in the alt-right movement — believe the world should revolve around only them, and women and minorities should be relegated to supporting roles or disappear entirely.

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