I promised y’all a bitter unboxing and that’s…
Mostly what you’re getting.
One thing I and other Black K-pop fans – especially those a bit further along on our own journeys to unlearn internalized antiblackness – have come up against as we make our way through these fandom spaces and enjoy content form performers is that we’re constantly put into positions where it feels like we have to choose between our identities as fans of a group or the industry and our identities as Black people.
So when a performer or a group of performers does something that’s antiblack or that makes Black fans feel like they’re not being seen as actual fans or even as people, that sort of feeling rears its icky head.
I genuinely love the friends I’ve made, the memes I’ve consumed, all the cool stuff I now own as a direct result of my investment and interest in BTS, and all that ish from this fandom, but –
It’s a little hard to #LoveMyself or whatever in this fandom when non-Black BTS fans kind of make it a point to let us know that we’re not who they think of when it comes to real, ideal fans of the group. To let us know that unless we’re making content or ignoring antiblackness from fans or cultural appropriation from the group when it happens, that we don’t “count” as fans.
And so the sweet feelings I have towards BTS and to the fandom are almost… under attack by this bitterness that no matter what I do or how deeply I love BTS (and show that love in part by hoping for them to keep growing as people, not just as performers):
The second I dare to be critical of this group that means so much to me for things that matter a bunch to me as a Black person, I stop mattering not just as a fan of the group but kind of… as a person.
And that shouldn’t happen. That shouldn’t be normal.
(And yes, I wedged my sad feelings all up in this unboxing video. I needed to have something to do with my hands as I Aired My Grievances.)