BTS is visiting the White House next week to celebrate AANHPI Heritage Month and discuss with President Joe Biden the disturbing rise in anti-Asian hate crimes and discrimination in the United States. According to a release from the White House shared with Billboard, the K-pop septet will touch down at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on Tuesday (May 31) to talk with the commander in chief about Asian inclusion and representation, and Biden’s efforts to stem the tide of hate crimes against people of Asian heritage.
“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,” read a statement announcing the visit.
According to a recent report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, the rate of anti-Asian hate crime increased by 339 percent in 2021, with New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles all surpassing the records set in 2020.
“President Biden and BTS will also discuss the importance of diversity and inclusion and BTS’ platform as youth ambassadors who spread a message of hope and positivity across the world,” the statement continued. The visit will come one week after Biden returns from his first trip to Asia as president, including three days of meetings in the South Korean capitol of Seoul.
The group released a statement about their own experience with discrimination last year in the midst of a series of anti-Asian hate crimes in the U.S. following the March 16 shootings in Atlanta in which a gunman killed eight people, including six Asian women, at three Asian massage parlors. “We recall moments when we faced discrimination as Asians,” they tweeted at the time. “We have endured expletives without reason and were mocked for the way we look. We were even asked why Asians spoke in English.”