K-pop fans are fighting racial injustice on social media

K-pop fans just came in for back up. 

It’s been an earth-shattering week of protests and resistance across the nation after haunting footage of the brutal murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police circulated far and wide sparking unrest across the nation.

Many communities, leaders, and companies have released public statements condemning the ruthless killing and expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

But nobody was expecting the seemingly coordinated — and powerful — effort of K-pop fans.

K-pop fans are social media savvy

Kpop fans are known for their next-level commitment and adoration of Korean pop groups. K-pop fans They are generally known as massive crowds of superfans with tears-of-joy stained faces decked out in fan merch and homemade signs declaring undying love for K pop stars.

They are also known for their incredible ability to mobilize digitally on a mass scale, a superpower that became known when they repeatedly made their favorite stars trend on major media platforms overnight.

But now, K-pop fans are using this digital superpower for a different reason — social justice.

K-pop fans are following social media closely

On Tuesday, millions of people posted black squares across social media with the hashtag #blacklivesmatter, expressing support and solidarity with the cause.

However, leaders and activists from the BLM community advised that ultimately, #BlackoutTuesday did more harm than good.

Millions of black square posts pushed content with important information (such as where protests were being held, how people could help, and footage of the protests) down the #blacklivesmatter feed to a position where people couldn’t see them. That made organizing protests and get important content widely distributed much harder.

But K-pop fans keenly observed that though #blackouttuesday didn’t have the intended effect, it was a smart strategy — one they knew well. All it needed was a little reverse engineering.

Adjusting the strategy

If the ultimate outcome of #BlackoutTuesday was flooding the feed and suppression information sharing among that following, then that’s how that strategy needed to be used.

K-pop fans flooded social media with posts of K-pop stars, fancam footage, anime gifs, and other pop culture content. This time, they tagged all these posts with hashtags such as #whitelivesmatter, #whiteoutwednesday. #maga, and other feeds with followings of those most likely to oppose the Black Live Matter cause.

Today, the #whitelivesmatter feed on Instagram is a wall of K-pop fan posts.

And the results are pretty hilarious.

screenshot of k-pop fans taking up #whiteoutWednesday instagram feeds

How this helps the #BlackLivesMatter movement

While this may be a welcome breath of comedic relief from the dual national emergencies griping the country right now, its powerful impact shouldn’t be overlooked.

Many people — indeed, the majority of people — use social media as their primary source of news. Hashtags and social posts are also among the most effective way to plan gatherings and spread information (or misinformation).

K-pop fans are pushing the ‘regularly scheduled’ programming (often racist, fire-fueling, logical-fallacy ridden propaganda) for their target hashtags down the feed.

This stunts the post’s ability to gain engagement, a critical factor in social media platform algorithms in determining the post’s ‘reach’ — a metric that defines how widely the post is distributed.

De facto, they are hijacking the ability of these groups to communicate on social media en masse. (FYI: Higher engagement = higher reach. Liking/commenting on K-pop posts under these hashtags will give make these posts more effective).

K-pop posts have been dominating anti-BLM group hastags

Optimizing their strategy

As any good social media strategy should, K-pop stans are optimizing.

When Dallas Police asked the community to send them videos of “unlawful activity” during the protests (presumably to bolster a defense of using force to quell civil unrest), K-pop fans flooded the app with so much irrelevant footage the system crashed.

In Washington, police tried to use the power of social media to spread the hashtag #calminkirkland, also urging residents to send them footage of protests. K-pop stans blitzed the feed, rendering it unless.

Allies in all places

K-pop fans’ unexpected activism is just one of many outpours of support for the black community in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. While they suppress hateful speech and diffuse potentially violent counter organization, Other groups are lending support in other critical-to-success areas.

The LGBTQ+ community has mobilized and showed up at protests around the country.

The ACLU filed suit against Trump for using tear gas on peaceful protestors for the sake of a photo op in front of a church.

Hacktivist group Anonymous posted a message that they would use their tech, engineering, and hacking abilities to ensure that Officer Chauvin, the psychopathic, racist cop whose knee was on George Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, is convicted of murder.

“Unfortunately, we do not trust your corrupt organization to carry out justice, so we will be exposing your many crimes to the world.”

— Anonymous

Businesses that have largely remained quiet until now are also speaking out. Many have released statements on social media and on their websites condemning the heinous murder of George Floyd. Most have taken further action by making contributions to civil rights organizations like the NAACP, ACLU, and Black Lives Matter.

Republican lawmakers have broke their silence — and stride with their political party. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) alluded to present but unspoken concerns circulating among GOP lawmakers about Trump in a recent press release.

There are even signs that FOX news — long considered the President’s personal propaganda machine — are turning on the President, something that would have seemed unfathomable just a month ago.

Doctors across the nation—already tirelessly handling the other emergency going on right now — have come out and kneeled as protesters march pass hospital doors.

I attended the Black Lives Matter march in San Diego on 6/5/20. While there, I saw thousands of people from all walks of life doing what we should have done a long time ago.

As we walked through the city streets, masked senior citizens knocked on windows of apartment complexes and put their fists up in solidarity.

Local businesses and members of the community lined the full march route handing out water, food, hand sanitizer, and masks.

SDPD officers stood down and diverted traffic from the march route.

In such chaotic times, where everything appears extremely polarized, seeing so much unity was a breath of fresh air.

George Floyd mural

he footage of George Floyd’s murder was profoundly personal — an American, pleading for his life, his face smashed into pavement, crying out for his dead mother, the look of terror and desperation on his face as his life was callously snuffed out before our eyes. Bystanders screamed at his killer (“He’s not responsive!”) who remained stoic, excited even, like some vicious animal after a kill (except animals generally kill for a reason) for an impossible 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

Meanwhile, three other officers — whose payroll is funded by our tax dollars and whose job it is to Protect and Serve the People, surrounded him so he could carry out the murder in broad daylight in front of numerous witnesses.

There have been many senseless killings of black Americans at the hands of police since the first slave trade ship docked in the U.S. in 1624.

The first police force in America were slave catchers. American police forces were some of the founding members of the KKK. And the “president” of the United States’ own father was arrested at a Klu Klux Klan riot, a poignant contradiction to the notion that America has outgrown her shameful legacy of slavery a long time ago.

It’s nice to think that the nation’s police force and the KKK organically parted ways without intervention at some point along the timeline of history. They didn’t. Many police departments across the country have known ties to the KKK. For every known tie, we should assume there are many others we don’t know about.

We need a proactive approach in untangling these two groups. Police departments across the country need to be investigated and purged of any police officers with ties to the KKK, white supremacy groups, or with history of racist speech or affiliation. We will probably find an alarmingly high concentration of white supremacists in officer ranks across the country.

Prior conduct files of every officer in the nation needs to be reviewed by an independent civil rights group such as the ALCU. In many recent high-profile police brutality killings, the pattern of violence in the offending officer was clearly there. Derek Chauvin had 17 complaints against him and had killed “in the line of duty” before.

Daniel Panteleo, the officer who choked out Eric Gardner in 2014 as Gardner repeatedly gasped “I can’t breath!” had 14 complaints against him.

Both officers should have been fired much sooner — that they weren’t reflects problem much deeper than a “few bad apples.” For that reason, the further up the chain of command, the more extensive the vetting should be. Police Chiefs and Commanders can set the tone for the entire department.

For those saying #bluelivesmatter: Consider that the association between these two groups is also escalating the danger for officers who truly pursued the profession because they wanted to Protect and Serve.

If history is any indicator (hint: It definitely is), there’s reason for hope that the resistance of the People is at a high enough level to effect real change — as long as people stay committed. There is a chance things will get much uglier. But there’s a bigger chance that we’re in the midst of a change that will be as a landmark a moment in history as the Civil Right Act (which, importantly, was the direct result of the Civil Right Movement).

It’s a moment of reckoning for the nation. The stakes are incredibly high. To support Black Lives Matter movement is to support Americans’ right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Donald Trump has upped the ante: Now, supporting the Black Live Matter movement is also to support the People against a corrupt government that wants use tax-funded police and military against its own civilians as a response to exercising our Constitutional rights.

We all have a responsibility as Americans to meet this moment, defend our democracy, our rights, our humanity, and our future.

Breona Taylor's murder brought significant public outrage
Breonna Taylor — a vivacious, caring EMT gunned down in her home by police — would have turned 27 today.

High-quality journalism on these issues can be found on The Root.


  • Tanja Fijalkowski

    Tanja Fijalkowski is an award-winning writer, editor, and designer. A North Bay Area native, she has written for various financial, business, history, and science publications. She's a deep-dive researcher with a strong command of data analysis and simplifying complex concepts.

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