A recent article has called out a disturbing trend of racism, against black women within the BTS Army fandom. Now, fans within the BTS Army are taking action with two anti-racism hashtags: #BlackARMYsequality and #BlackARMYsMatter.
On Monday, BuzzFeed News published a story that spoke to 14 fans who say they have experienced some level of racism just for stanning for their favorite K-pop group. One woman talked about how she posted a selfie in a BTS group chat and later says she discovered her photo had been edited to make her look white. Other black fans reported being harassed online and attacked with racial slurs. Earlier this year, the hashtag #BlackArmyBeauty went viral after being started by 15-year-old Elismarie Ortiz to empower black BTS fans.
Fans began using the #BlackARMYsequality hashtag to create a supportive, anti-racism community — and to let racist people within the community know they aren't going anywhere. Hashtag creator and BTS fan Tayira (@cultfye) came up with the hashtag in February and worked on it with several fellow BTS fans. The 16-year-old told Teen Vogue that her reason for creating the hashtag was because she and other ARMYs of color began receiving racist messages through the social network Curious Cat, which BuzzFeed News also mentions in their article. Curious Cat told BuzzFeed News in a statement that they are working to stop harassment on the platform, saying, "As we stated on our Twitter recently, we are aware of the issue and have been banning all the individuals behind these messages which are brought to our attention."
Tayira has since mobilized many fans to take action. A group of fans are trying to get #BlackARMYsMatter to trend on Twitter on June 8 and bring more awareness to the issue by creating a safe space for black people to share their experiences. "I wanted to take a stand against it and to create something so that the fandom would acknowledge the racism instead of pushing it under the rug and going on as if nothing happened ," Tayira told Teen Vogue. "When I first posted it there was some negativity like 'This will never work,' and 'You’re wasting your time,' but along with that there was a lot of people supporting me, black and non-black ARMYs."
Using the new hashtags, one person tweeted, "Black ARMYs aren’t leaving this fandom. In fact, there will be more Black ARMYs as a result of this cb. This fandom needs us too. Whether racists want to admit it or not. We support BTS, defend BTS, more than some will ever know. If this fandom is a family + #BlackARMYsequality."
For Tayira, the experience has changed the way she thinks about the BTS fandom. "When I first entered the fandom I wasn’t aware [of the online harassment], so seeing many black ARMYs receiving the Curious Cat messages, and then receiving them myself really made me take a step back from the fandom," Tayira told Teen Vogue. "Creating this hashtag showed how many actually want to see the racism go away and how many only cared about how the fandom looked to other people."
Curious Cat sent a statement to Teen Vogue about the reported harassment on its platform. The statement reads, "We are aware of this awful situation taking place on our platform. Right now, and for a while now, our number one priority has been our user's safety and experience. We believe anonymity can be an entirely positive experience, and we have no plans to let it be exploited in such ways. We are currently trying to think of the best ways and features we can bring to our platform to make this happen, and they are soon to come. We want our community to have the best experience Curious Cat can give them, and we can assure that will be the case. It's great to see a community come together against such injustice, but they can be sure to count on our full support, and Curious Cat will be a safe platform for everyone."
SOURCE: TEEN VOGUE