With racial tension intensifying by the day in America, GOT7 member BamBam’s recent use of “the N-word” has the international fan community in a frenzy. The internet is abuzz with both unyielding support and infuriated disappointment. Los Angeles based Black K-hip-hop and R&B group CoCo Avenue member Jenna Rose explores the polarizing issue and defends her right to be offended in her guest editorial below.
Earlier this week, the events surrounding GOT7’s “Fly in the USA” tour were trending all over social media, but not for the reasons fans would hope. Instead of the usual fan cams of cool dance moves and Instagram videos of idols trying out their favorite American foods, we got Snapchat videos of underage drinking and casually tossed around racial slurs.
In reading and engaging in a lot of the social media discussions regarding 19-year-old member BamBam’s use of the N-word at a pool party, I was baffled by the amount of fans who were determined to defend his behavior, even at the risk of offending an entire ethnic group. Comments ranged from denial to dismissive: “It didn’t look like BamBam was saying N***a in the video,” or “He doesn’t know what that word means, you can’t blame him,” and most infuriating of all, “People say the N-word all the time in rap, it’s not a big deal.” BamBam has since unofficially apologized for his use of the word, and I do hope this is a lesson learned for him, but more than anything this incident has cast an ugly light on how far some Kpop fans will go to defend the bad behavior of their idols.
“Oppa didn’t mean it…”
Idols using the N-word is not original. The GOT7 member was not the first to do it, and sadly, he won’t be the last. But the argument that idols don’t understand that the word they’re using is offensive is even more unoriginal. Newsflash guys, the year is 2016, and if BamBam can look up a YouTube tutorial on how to dab one hundred times in a minute, he can look up the racial significance of the N-word. You mean to tell me you can draw influence from African-American style, African-American music, and African-American dance, but you can’t be bothered to learn the significance of what is arguably the most commonly used, racially insensitive word to African Americans? You mean to tell me that after the countless drag sessions of other idols who have used the N-word (RIP to the homie Rapmon, he ain’t dead or nothing, he just got caught using the N-word too), BamBam didn’t learn that maybe using the word wasn’t the best idea? That’s irresponsible, and not something his fans can defend without looking racially insensitive themselves.
“You guys are overreacting…”
I’m also hearing a lot of Kpop fans saying that BamBam’s use of the N-word is “not a big deal, and people should calm down.”
Okay. This is the part where I try to be as civil and clear as possible.
YOU. HAVE. NO. RIGHT. TO. TELL. A. BLACK. PERSON. HOW. OFFENDED. THEY. ARE. ALLOWED. TO. BE. BY. RACIAL. SLURS.
Did I say that loud enough for the Kpop fans in the back?
When an idol uses the N-word, Black fans should be allowed to express their disappointment without being told they are overreacting. I don’t care how many rappers use the N-word in America. I don’t care if your only Black friend from the 3rd grade said they were cool with it. I don’t care if you are a Black Kpop fan and you don’t care if BamBam says the N-word, because you are a sad, lost, minority, and thankfully you don’t speak for the entirety of the Black Kpop Fandom. The use of the N-word is not okay. No, BamBam does not deserve death threats, but he does deserve to be told about himself, and you cannot not tell Black Kpop fans how they are allowed to tell him, or decide how offensive the word is. You. Have. No. Right.
“KPop isn’t for you anyway…”
The last line of defense for the insensitive Kpop fan; “If you don’t like what Kpop idols say, don’t listen to Kpop.” I highly doubt that’s what idols want, to lose a very large portion of their fan base because of poorly chosen words. KPop is perceptibly marketed to and is inspired by the American fan base. Kpop acts are singing in English phrases and having concerts in US cities. Korean music videos are now uploaded with English subtitles already included. Idols are traveling all over the world for fan meets, and are constantly reaching out to international fans. Why? Because international fans are important, and if they find something that an idol has said or done to be offensive, trying to rule them out because they are not Korean is no longer rational. That rhetoric is canceled.
In conclusion, this trend of apologist behavior at the expense of an entire race of people has got to stop. There was a huge line divided when the Snapchat videos of the pool party were released, and the amount of keyboard warriors blindly defending someone who was clearly wrong is staggering. Here’s my advice to those fans: Take a step back and realize that your idols aren’t perfect, and you sitting there with your nose scrunched up at your computer screen typing out novels about how people should ‘get over it’ is only hurting them in the long run.
BamBam himself has said that his dream is to be a World Star, so if that’s what he really wants then he’ll need to take responsibility and become more knowledgeable about the cultures he’s trying to appropriate and appeal to. In the meantime, I’ll be patiently waiting for the day when Kpop fans will take off their blinders and acknowledge when their faves do wrong, but I won’t hold my breath.
MoonROK always welcomes guest editorial submissions. To submit a piece for publishing, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: BamBam GOT7