Jinjja Cha is a weekly podcast hosted by Girl Davis and April about South Korean Pop Culture and everything else in between.
You can find them on:
My appearance on Jinjja Cha was kind of destined to happen. I adore Girl Davis immensely and want to be as cool as she is one day. And while I haven’t had the chance to talk with April yet, we’re both longtime Rain and Miyavi fans so like… we’re clearly also soulmates separated at birth.
So, this was in the cards as a Thing That To Take Place.
Talking with Girl was an incredible experience in terms of like… how it felt like just going out with a buddy and getting intense over drinks. (One day, by the way, I’m going to have that experience with them. I promise y’all that.)
Girl and I talked about a lot of different things across our almost three-hour-long conversation. From my whole issue with that one barbershop that was all over social media for a few days to that time I was friends with a white supremacist in college a decade ago, nothing was really off limits?
And I loved it.
The main question across our conversation was about finding our thresholds as Black fans invested in these groups and this industry that has repeatedly shown itself to be incredibly antiblack across the past twenty or so years.
One of the things I’ve been thinking about – especially after reading and sharing Stan’d off by Claudia Williams – is how hard is is to unstan?
Even temporarily because you’re burnt out or frustrated by a member’s hood cosplay or upset at the way the performers/their companies never seem to notice antiblackness in their fandoms – but can leap to quash a dating rumor in a heartbeat.
In “Stan’d Off” there’s this part at the end that really stuck with me, where Aaliyah, the one young interview subject is asked what it might take for her to unstan BTS after dealing with extremely harmful antiblackness from her previous fandom, and she goes:
“I don’t know… maybe, like, World War Three or something?”
And honestly, sometimes that’s how I feel?
My threshold when it comes to dropping a group or an artist is pretty far, to be honest. It’s blackface, active company and idol dismissal of conversations about cultural appropriation/antiblackness from fans or the group (as opposed to the silence we usually get), and a member of a group being a sex pest. And only two of the three things have to do with Blackness, I know. But as a former fan of [REDACTED], I absolutely needed to bring that up.
My threshold still leaves a lot of room to maneuver and to get smacked with nonsense that I then have to figure out how I want to think about.
Too much room.
Today, I started putting together the outline and initial slides for my Basic Blaccent video. I came across two separate videos of Namjoon, my BTS bias and a major source of inspiration for my creative soul, displaying “Black English” as his talent back when they were a newer group. Of course, time has passed and he doesn’t seem like he still does that any more, but that’s something else that gets to go into my memory vault and that gets weighed against all the things I genuinely love about him.
And while my threshold for is pretty far and holds two things that are actually Quite Unlikely to get from a group in 2019 – I’d like to say – that doesn’t mean that the little cuts from being exposed to or reminded of antiblackness in these idols’ pasts don’t leave me frustrated. That doesn’t mean they don’t build up or that they don’t chip away at the foundations of my actual and honest love for them.
But every time we’re brought to these moments or these memories, we have to choose what to do next: do we walk away from the group now or store this away so if they mess up again, we walk away them? Do we store up our hurts or talk about them in spaces that seem actively against that kind of conversation?
What do we do? Who do we do it for?
It’s all intensely personal and hard to unpack. For me, at least.
I remember, when the conversations my Black friends (and non-Black friends who recognized Nonsense) were having about J-Hope’s Chicken Noodle Soup and cultural appropriation came up, a lot of people were like “oh, what about SuperM? It’s made up of artists that are problematic about Blackness and partook of cultural appropriation/colorism”.
And like… duh?
So’s pretty much every popular group – and even some unpopular and minor ones. Because we live in a world that rewards non-Black performers for making Blackness part of their performance even as it punishes Black people for existing.
Being a Black kpop fan at any level is incredibly complicated. You’re not just running up against an industry that profits off of a Black Aesthetic, but a fandom full of folks who legitimately seem to think that Seo Taiji and Lee Soo Man created hip-hop from thin air and that Korean rappers make the genre better. That they are better at Black music than Black people.
At every single step, there are reminders that it isn’t just that too many people in the industry aren’t even thinking about our existence in the industry to purposefully make the content painful for us – but that the fandom spaces can be actively and openly hostile to us.
And I know a lot of Black fans who are literally trying to figure out where their line in the sand is.
Where do we get off?
Why are we getting off?
I answered those questions for myself – and a host of others – while talking with Girl… and I’m still not solid on my answers.
I feel like everyone that’s not one of my niecelings (because it’s a smidge NSFW and there are things no nieceling needs to hear from me) should check out this episode. If you’ve got three hours to spare and a desire to hear me be absolutely rude about pretty much everything under the sun, this is your kind of episode.
I have never been the kind of person to hide my criticisms of a fandom I’m in and that I love. If I love a fandom – or am trying to – and said fandom keeps letting me down? I’m going to talk about it. But talking about it – especially in my kind of rude way as I am Supreme Little Shit in Girl’s presence for sure – doesn’t mean I’m bouncing or that I hate it. It just means that I’m bothered and I wish it’d do better.
That I wish fandom and artists alike could be better to Black fans.
And since they won’t…
I don’t necessarily feel the need to pull my punches about things that bother me.
I had a great time talking with Girl and one day, I’ll get to talk with her and April at the same time. I loved being on this podcast and sharing my feelings about antiblackness in the industry and in the fandom.
I hope y’all enjoy listening to it!