Today’s Solutions: May 22, 2022

As protests for racial justice took place around the globe, the Black Lives Matter movement found an unusual ally in the world of K-Pop where fans and artists alike led an online anti-racist movement. 

In a truly 21st century moment of activism, K-Pop fans flooded Twitter with “fancams,” or fan-edited videos of K-pop stars singing, dancing, and serving looks with the #whitelivesmatter. No, they were not supporting the racist hashtag, but rather drowning out offensive and bigoted posts under the hashtag with musical videos, essentially rendering the hashtag irrelevant. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the initiative is how organized their collective action is. As groups transitioned to #whitelifematters and then #whiteoutwednesday, the K-Pop activists quickly regrouped and rerouted their content under the new hashtags.

The fans didn’t stop with hashtag manipulation. When the Dallas Police Department encouraged citizens to download iWatch Dallas, an app that could be used to upload videos and photos in order to report “illegal activity from the protests,” fans flooded that app with the same videos, causing so much disruption to the system that the department shut it down citing “technical difficulties.” 

The Dallas Morning News referred to the action against iWatch Dallas as a “mass prank, their actions made a significant impact on protecting the safety and privacy of protestors. Although the method is rather humorous, their coordination and the power of their collective activism is to be commended. 

Maria Sherman, the author of the forthcoming “Larger Than Life: A History of Boy Bands from NKOTB to BTS” told the New Yorker, “Mobilizing quickly is the foundational K-pop stan experience, because those armies take an active, participatory role in their consumerism.” 

The link between K-Pop and racial justice isn’t random. K-pop is heavily based in New Jack Swing, a style of pop music invented and perfected by black Americans in the nineteen-eighties and nineties. K-Pop also has a historical base in social activism. Many popular songs address social issues including Psy’s viral ‘Gangnam Style.’

For those who are immunocompromised and unable to physically take part in protests, this is a great example of the power of virtual activism. The beauty of modern social movements with significant online presence is that anyone can make a positive impact no matter where you are in the world. 

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