K-pop supergroup BTS headed to the White House Tuesday to meet with President Joe Biden to discuss anti-Asian hate crimes and discrimination. The group's appearance coincided with the last day of Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month.
Appearing alongside Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre Tuesday afternoon, each BTS member made brief comments to the press, with an interpreter relaying that they're devastated by a rise in Asian-American hate crimes, that their fans are of every culture and that they're thankful to use their platform to spread awareness.
"It is a great honor to be invited to the White House to discuss important issues of anti-Asian hate crimes and diversity and inclusion," said RM, the English-speaking member of the group. "We thank President Biden and the White House for giving this important opportunity to speak about the important causes, to remind ourselves of what we can do as artists."
The US has seen an uptick in anti-Asian crime and hostility amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including shootings in Atlanta last year that put a spotlight on violence against Asian Americans. Between March 2020 and December 2021, more than 10,000 hate incidents against AAPI people were reported to advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate. A Pew Research Center survey released earlier this month found that about a third of AAPI adults say "they have altered their daily schedule or routine in the past 12 months due to worries that they might be threatened or attacked."
In May 2021, Biden signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which aims to address hate crimes with a focus on violence against Asian Americans.