Experiencing the K-pop Fandom as a Black Woman

By: Chanel W.
03/17/2022
en
K-pop Fandom
Thumbnail courtesy of Mal.

As a fan, getting an interaction from your favorite artist is a very special moment. When you have this experience in-person or online, if you choose to share it, you run the risk of subjecting yourself to others opinions regarding your interaction—whether you want it or not.

Twitter is a common place for fans to share their interactions and experiences. Some fans are hyped up and some are met with criticism. From my friend’s and my own experiences, we noticed there is a difference in reactions when Black women get attention compared to our non-Black counterparts. 

With misogynoir running rampant in society, Black women understand what I mean when I say we get treated differently. Black women are constantly sexualized in instances that are not inherently sexual, as well as our actions being demonized

When it comes to concerts, meet-n-greets, video calls, etc. there is already this weird animosity towards Black K-pop fans, but when we get positive interactions… It’s like that animosity grows tenfold. We have to be extra careful of our outfits, our behavior, actions—just sharing our experiences or interactions with others. We could do something that a non-Black fan could do, but we are the ones that receive ‘backlash.’ Which usually results in a lot of racist comments and harassment. 

The more we experience this, the more you have to wonder: are these reactions rooted in just jealousy, or could it be something deeper?

My friends and I have been on the receiving end of racial harassment multiple times. Following a video call that I did with one of my favorite idols, I spent weeks being harassed by fans of this member on multiple social media platforms. Whereas a white fan, who received the same kind of interaction, was not met with the same hostility. 

A friend of mine, who will be addressed as J for their privacy, was harassed throughout an entire tour after receiving several good interactions from a specific K-pop group. “[K-pop group] doesn’t even like Black fans,” “Too bad [K-pop member’s name] would never want you because you’re Black”— are just examples of some of the messages that J would receive. This is just one of many times that J had to deal with something like this.

J’s non-Black friends were never met with this same hostility despite receiving the same kind of attention. It’s safe to assume that it isn’t about other fans receiving interactions. It’s about Black women being the ones on the receiving end of said attention.

When Black women are on the receiving end of positive interactions, we are met with unnecessary comments. A lot of these comments are structured with one purpose and that purpose is to leave Black women feeling unwanted and undesired. 

Wording these attacks with the purpose of tearing down Black women to feel as though they are not worthy enough of receiving such interactions brings me to another question. Why does it always come back to the idol “needing” to find the Black fan attractive in order to interact with them? What happened to just having an “idol-fan” relationship? It’s like this concept of an idol simply interacting with a fan because they are a fan goes out the window in these instances. 

Why do other fans feel entitled to make us feel so undesirable and unwanted, that we find ourselves in these predicaments of no longer wanting to meet our idols or share our interactions? 

Ultimately, I am just curious about what it is about being a Black fan that makes others view us as so undeserving of these interactions. There has to be something deeper at play here. I could sit here and talk about all kinds of theories as to why this may be the case, but that would take far more time than I could afford. 

Black K-pop fans and myself included, have shared on several occasions that they get so used to these comments that it doesn’t even hurt anymore. I use the word hurt loosely, because it’s not that they do not hurt us, but we are desensitized. There are countless stories that address the anti-blackness in the K-pop fandom, but little change has been made.

I don’t really have a call-to-action for this piece. I just want this article to bring awareness to what we experience as Black K-pop fans. To put it simply, we are here to enjoy the music, but our compounded identities make this rather difficult. We should be able to enjoy our experiences as K-pop fans and enjoy our interactions with our favorites just as our non-Black counterparts do.

This article originally appeared in our Women’s Issue, be sure to read it here!