Entertainment

BTS Fans Raise $1 Million in Less Than Two Days for Black Lives Matter

The BTS ARMY matched the K-pop band's $1 million donation to Black Lives Matter.

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Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Few things in this world are as impressively single-minded as a K-pop community with a mission. When George Floyd's death ignited a week of worldwide protests decrying police brutality and supporting Black Lives Matter, K-pop fans banded together online, relentlessly clogging alt-right hashtags on Twitter and glitching out a police department's crime reporting app with fancams (short, cut-together videos of specific bands or idols), weaponizing their numbers and their obsession to help the cause. This weekend, after world-famous K-pop band BTS announced they had donated $1 million to Black Lives Matter, their fans banded together once again to match their donation -- and they did it in less than two days. 

Earlier last week, BTS tweeted via their official account, "We stand against racial discrimination. We condemn violence. You, I and we all have the right to be respected. We will stand together. #BlackLivesMatter." A few days later, the group announced their donation.

The BTS ARMY, the organized fan group whose acronym stands for "Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth," had also mobilized their own donation initiative in the form of One In An ARMY; even before BTS announced their contribution, ARMY had collectively donated more than $50,000 to Black charities. On Saturday, June 6, ARMY created the hashtag #MatchAMillion and pledged to match BTS's donation as fast as they could. By Sunday night, they'd exceed their goal, according to One In An ARMY's donation tracker. "Given the diversity in the fandom (BTS have a significant number of black and biracial fans) and the strong desire to help others, it's unsurprising that ARMY wanted to help support the movement," One In An ARMY wrote. 

This comes only days after ARMY had to reckon with the treatment of their Black fans: One of the songs on BTS member Suga's recent solo album, D-2, titled "What Do You Think?" sampled a few seconds of a speech from cult leader Jim Jones, who was responsible for the mass murder-suicide of hundreds of his followers in Guyana's Jonestown. Many Black fans felt alienated by the sample, and by the online flame wars that were ignited amongst Suga's fans after some criticized the song. Big Hit Entertainment later apologized, claiming the company was unaware of the context of the sample, and released an edited version of the song with the sample taken out. 

For the #MatchAMillion campaign, One In An Army created an online system so that fans could split their donations across 17 different organizations, including Minneapolis' Reclaim the Block, Black Visions Collective, and the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project. The Black Lives Matter initiative has a permanent page on One In An ARMY's website, and the fan organization said via a statement that they have no plans to end it: "Black Lives Matter isn't something that has a time limit. It's a belief everyone needs to carry in their everyday lives." This isn't the first time BTS has been involved in campaigning for human rights: In August 2018, the group made history as the first K-pop group to speak at the United Nations, giving a speech advocating for global education, and previously has also worked with UNICEF speaking out against youth violence

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Emma Stefansky is a staff entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @stefabsky.