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Why K-pop Idols and BTS Should Support BLM

Aanandi Murlidharan

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Seven K-pop men with various colors of hair, and various jackets and plaid shirts sit on a turquoise monkey bar set in a turquoise background.
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The murder of George Floyd at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has forced not only American, but the entire world to confront police brutality and the systematic racism against African Americans. Many individuals have taken to social media to post information regarding this topic using the Black Lives Matter hashtag on their posts, such as the #blackouttuesday, to draw awareness to and stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.  

Several K-pop stars, including Eric Nam, BM from Kard, Mark Tuan from Got7, and many others, also took to their social media pages to support the movement. Most notably, the chart-busting superstars, BTS, donated one million dollars to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Prior to their donation, K-pop fans, or as they are more commonly known, K-pop stans, took to Twitter to urge BTS to donate and use their platform to speak out about the movement. These K-pop stans often faced backlash from other K-pop stans, who believed BTS and other K-pop artists did not have a responsibility to speak out towards the movement. Fans who stated otherwise were bombarded with a variety of counter-arguments which claimed that the police brutality was that “an American issue” or “K-pop artists did not have to publicly express their stance on the issue.”

Some also stated that the artists themselves were not to be blamed for not speaking up, but instead were blamed for the “strictness of their management.” However, these counter-arguments are not valid. The Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality are not just “American issues.” 

K-pop idols openly expressing their support towards the BLM movement is necessary due to the highly influential role black culture has played in the music, dance, and fashion of the K-pop industry. 

These are three aspects of the K-pop industry that have been influenced greatly by black culture:  

1. Music

Hip-hop, a genre that roots from black culture, has heavily influenced the music of the K-pop industry. In fact, Seo Taji and Boys, the group that paved the way for K-pop as we know it, was heavily influenced by Hip-hop and RNB. Within every K-pop group, there are always two to three rappers. Thus, almost every K-pop song includes multiple rap verses. Within K-pop albums, there are even tracks that solely feature the “rap line,” or rappers, of the group. 

The influence of black culture and black artists on K-pop is not merely an observation that fans have made regarding the industry. During a live broadcast with fans, RM mentioned that the song “Intro: Singularity” falls into the Neo-Soul genre. Additionally, in interviews, such as one with the Hollywood Reporter, BTS mentioned that some of the artists who inspired them as children were Nas, Usher, TI, and Jay-Z. BTS is not the only group that claimed inspiration from artists. SM Entertainment’s supergroup, NCT, was asked by Apple Music K-pop to contribute to a playlist called NCT Influences

Each member contributed a song that made them dream of becoming an artist. Four of the members included songs by Michael Jackson, Jorja Smith, Usher, and Stevie Wonder. While two of the 127 NCT members have come out in support for the BLM movements, there has still been no official statement in support of the movement. 

Within the K-pop industry, there are also two major sub-genres: K-RNB and K-Hip-hop. Notable artists of these genres include Hoody, Crush, and Jay Park, who was the first Asian American to be signed to JayZ’s ROC Nation. Once again, while these artists produce original music, as the name of the genre suggests, the roots of their music lie in black music culture. 

Many of these artists have more freedom due to the fact that their companies are less strict and portray less of the pristine, clean-cut image of their counterparts in mainstream K-pop. However, still, with the exception of a few K-RNB artists such as Jay Park, LOCO, and Crush, very few K-RNB stars have come out in support of the BLM movement. Zico, a former member of Block B and current hit rap star, has not yet posted a single message that supports the BLM movement despite having once rapped the following line in the song “Bermuda Triangle”: “We’re yellow people, but I got black soul.”

2. Dance

Choreography is one of the most defining features of the K-pop industry. Once a music video is released, idol groups typically perform impressive live performances with their epic choreography. Fans then take the time to learn choreography and often create cover dances. A few colleges even have K-pop dance clubs where they learn and perform these songs. 

However, just as K-pop music is influenced by black culture, a great amount of the choreography is also influenced by black culture. Seo Taji and Boys heavily used breakdancing, which was originally founded in the 70s by black youth in Bronx, New York. A more recent example of black culture’s influence on K-pop choreography is apparent in PENTAGON’S hit song, “Shine.” The song went viral within the K-pop community due to an iconic dance move during the chorus, which clearly drew inspiration from ZaeHD and CEO’s viral dance to BlocBoy JB’s “Shoot.” 

Their dance was released in 2017, and Shine was released in 2018. This move was also used by Blackpink’s “older brother group,” WINNER, in their track, “Everyday“. This music video even included black back-up dancers, but their company has still refused to make any public comment regarding the Black Lives Matter movement.

3. Fashion

Black culture is an integral part of K-pop fashion. There have been many examples of black cultural appreciation regarding the fashion within the K-pop industry. For example, much of the clothing and accessories worn in K-pop music videos are inspired by streetwear, a style of clothing that has roots within black fashion culture. 

In BTS’s hit video, Mic Drop, they sported bucket hats, puffy jackets, and track pants similar to the 1970s b-boy style. Similarly, girl group G-Idle also wore streetwear-inspired outfits in their video, Uh-oh

A notable example of this was apparent in supergroup EXO’s song, “Ko Ko Bop.” This song was released in the summer of 2017. The concept of the song was a summer bop using tropical beats, synths, and a catchy electric beat drop. The members looked dashing in their Hawaiian button-downs, but there was one look that caused a surge of controversy. Kai, the main dancer and center of the group, wore dreadlocks in his hair. This look was not something that was limited to the music video. 

EXO’s style team continued to style Kai’s hair in this fashion throughout the rest of the promotions. There was no official apology given by SM entertainment, Kai’s company. In fact, they continued to use this style on other artists within the company, such as NCT member Winwin in their hit song, “Limitless.” SM Entertainment is not the only company that has used dreadlocks as a style statement. Other big companies, such as JYP Entertainment, YG Entertainment (yes, Blackpink), and Big Hit Entertainment (yes, BTS), have used dreads as a style statement. 

Dreads are not the only form of black cultural appropriation within K-pop. CL, who was the leader of YG Entertainment’s girl group 2NE1, wore grills and gold chains in her 2013 single “Baddest Female.” She also enlisted the help of the New Zealand-based ReQuest dance crew for another solo release, “Hello Bitches.” While none of the women from ReQuest who appeared in CL’s video were black, that didn’t preclude the attention given to the tanned skin, cornrows, and twerking.

K-pop, the industry that has taken the world by storm, would not exist without the influence of black culture. The industry has used the black music culture to its advantage through cultural appreciation as well as cultural appropriation.

Therefore, it is their responsibility to support a movement that affects the people who created the music and culture they idolize and profit from.

“Many artists and people around the world get so much inspiration by black culture and music including me. We have a duty to respect every race,” said K-RNB artist, Crush.

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Halloween is Here-What to expect of it Amid the Pandemic?

Abrar Shah

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Two halloween jac-o-lanterns smiling and glowing in the dark outside of a house

Halloween this year will undeniably be different than in previous years. A significant number of young children across the country will be disappointed. Others will eagerly wait for the holiday to return to form next year, if even possible.

There is one clear takeaway from this year though. You should simply not conduct Halloween celebrations outdoors right now, for your own good. People are responsible for others now more than ever so it is a good time to reassess what holidays are truly important. 

Most people in the world are not fond of the pandemic, and rightfully so. Halloween arguably will take place in hell this year, since seeing a person without a costume in the current climate is more fear-inducing than a person with one. 

Since Halloween is in hell, there is no better time to mention one of Germany’s finest power-metal acts, Helloween. One of the pumpkin men’s most well-known songs is “I Want Out,” a strong summary of the average person’s feelings about the pandemic.

Of course, it is not impossible to celebrate Halloween right now. All indoor activities can simply remain as they are. People who interact with each other frequently enough would not have any additional concerns. 

For people who are fond of horror films, this year would arguably be the best Halloween possible. They can stay in and watch as many films back to back as they could possibly want. Plus, the great thing is that they are not putting anyone in danger unless of course there are a hundred people in the same room.

If you do consider having an army of individuals, AMC’s theater renting plan may be just for you. Many horror films are still meant to be savored on the big screen. 

Trick-or-treating this year for the casually-minded individual should be a no-go. Naturally, college students should not really see themselves performing the activity this many years later unless they truly believe they have an unseverable connection with it, perhaps because of younger siblings. 

The Halloween crisis this year brings up certain questions that you ought to ask yourself regularly, but are necessary to consider in the post-COVID world. Some of the following questions may seem awfully simple, but you’ll quickly realize the many things they can apply to, and make you reflect accordingly.

  • When was the last time you performed a task within its normal timeframe?
  • When was the last time you had to pick one activity over the other because of how much time other things were taking?
  • How many times have you spent consecutive holidays with the same people, and will that be the same this year?
  • Are there any activities you have done last year that have fallen out of favor this year?
  • Has the extended period of time at home made being home less appealing?
  • Has your household successfully maintained an olive branch for the duration of this year? In other words, have your family members kept the peace? 
  • What were some of your most important realizations over the past several months?
  • Do you consider all the sides to the story (If you’re an Extreme fan, the answer would perhaps be three)?
  • Have you developed any new habits (or even lost any)?
  • Have you had any major changes in perspective on standardized, cultural, or other issues?
  • Have you convinced yourself that a certain thing is more special than it once seemed?

These questions can go on and on. The important part is whether you can have answers to engage yourself with. 

The key idea left for you to consider is whether you will gain something from celebrating Halloween this year, whether it be in the standard fashion or tailoring your festivities in accordance with the current circumstances of the world.

Yes, the holidays only come once a year, but there is no better Halloween to decide how much you really care about this particular holiday going forward in your life, and whether it still brings as much joy as you may have had at a younger age.

Some people will challenge themselves to find a new way to enjoy something. Others will not let themselves be stopped from indulging in their pleasures. And then, of course, there are those who nod it off as another day in the week.

At the end of the day, you have to plan to do what you believe is best for you. You need to determine how meaningful it can possibly be, as well as how you would feel without doing it. The choice is yours, as it always has been, but will you make the right choice?

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3 Ways to Alleviate Germaphobia

Ivonne Scaglione

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Man sitting against a wall while wearing jeans, boots, and a sweater, looking. out at a large model of a virus

Germaphobia is the persistent and excessive fear of germs. As you know, we call them germophobic. Anxiety and germaphobia are inextricably connected but not necessarily the same diagnosis. So, what crosses the line between someone who is a germophobe and someone who is a little anxious about germs?

If we look at history, we can see that germs can wipe out entire populations. Besides global warming, another end-of-the-world scenario is an uncontrollable pandemic. But, so far, no pandemic has been even close to exterminating us. So far, we were able to control the virus and its expansion. And so far, we had our happy ending: humanity continued to prevail.

Around the 1920s, yellow fever created anxiety about hot humid weather and its mosquitos. Yet, with ingenuity, fish were used to eat the mosquitos’ eggs. Eventually, a vaccine was developed, and the disease was controlled up to this day. H.I.V is labeled as a pandemic and was controlled with medicines.

It’s not a death sentence anymore and people continue to live with the disease. Anthrax was controlled with an antibiotic named Cipro. Throughout history, there have been many deadly pandemics, including the swine flu and the avian flu, but nothing was more serious than the Spanish influenza of 1918. It killed at least 20 million people. Still, after this pandemic faded away, the homo sapiens continued to survive and rule the world.

During these historical pandemics, humans were witnessing their loved ones getting sick and dying. Naturally, the fear of invisible murderer pathogens began to possess people. However, some level of anxiety during a pandemic is normal. It can help.

Some level of anxiety reminds us to protect ourselves by being prepared. For example, using antibacterial soaps. For anxious people, these products not only promise to clean your hands but promise to destroy the troublesome germs. This is a serious growing business. In 1998, the profit for soap was about $400 million. It’s much higher now due to the pandemic.

A person washing their hands with soap under a faucet of running water
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According to the DSM-5, anxiety is the anticipation of the future while fear is an emotional response to threat. The latter creates a fight or flight response while anxiety is associated with hypervigilance about imminent danger. Avoiding touching doorknobs, public surfaces, using sanitizers, washing groceries, and keeping a distance from strangers without masks are all part of being cautious during these times. This doesn’t make you a person with a serious anxiety problem or a germophobe. Germaphobia occurs when there is excessive fear and anxiety with the thought of coming into contact with germs.

Under the DSM-5, Germaphobia would be under the category of specific phobia. Like the extreme fear of spiders or heights, there is a severe fear of germs. Phobias are usually characterized by overestimating the enemy. A germophobic will not be satisfied with only washing hands while singing the Happy Birthday song. Other criteria presented in the DSM-5 is avoidance. Germaphobia will cause impairment in different areas of functioning such as work or social activities.

For example, a woman who misses her meeting at work due to persistent handwashing in a public bathroom where she takes a long period of time attempting not to touch anything. Certainly, so far, we can’t stop pandemics from originating in some parts of the world, but we can learn to cope with the extreme fear of germs or germaphobia.

These are three ways you can alleviate germaphobia:

1. Be positive and hopeful

People with severe anxiety think catastrophically. Under any circumstances in which they are exposed to their fear, they will think of the worst possible scenario. A person with germaphobia will avoid any uncomfortable situation completely because of “catastrophic” and invasive thoughts. When we find ourselves in a situation that causes us anxiety, it’s important to have a positive attitude. When our brains receive this signal, it becomes easier to manage anxiety. Also, people with germaphobia are hopeless about the future. Therefore, they would rather avoid being exposed to their fear at all. Being hopeful can help us recognize that we have control of the situation by having a plan and taking care of ourselves. But, most of all, being hopeful makes us realize that not everything has negative outcomes. Catastrophic thoughts are irrational and untrue.

A woman in bed, wearing a grey sweater and shorts, with her hands over her eyes, under her covers, crying
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2. Meditate

Due to the rates for mental disorders in the western world being high, many Americans now turn to meditation for mental health. Even though mediation comes from Buddhism, any religion is welcomed to practice it. Throughout the years, meditation has become universal and people with different religious backgrounds practice it. The purpose of meditation is to allow you to look deep into yourself and stay in the present. It’s a way to connect with your deeper self. Spending that time of self-compassion will allow you to understand better your anxiety which leads to manage it better. Buddhism has harsh truths like pain is inevitable. This religion believes that life is suffering and accepting emotional pain will help you alleviate it. Instead of avoiding suffering, learn to deal with it. When you begin to surrender to it, you begin to accept it. The battle against fear and pain is over: Nirvana.

A woman in a green and white patterned shirt and pants, sitting on a dock on a body of water, in a yoga pose
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3. Stay grounded in the present

People with germaphobia and severe anxiety tend to live in the future. They are constantly vigilant of their present foreseeing a catastrophic future when exposed to their phobia. This will trigger irrational thoughts about suffering when it’s not happening. In other words, germophobes will suffer before something happens or they will suffer for what will never happen. It’s important to shift your mind to the present and stay grounded in it. Tell the catastrophic mind: “I am here, I am safe.” And, when you aren’t as safe as you would rather be, say: “I am still here breathing; this too will pass, and I’ll be OK.”

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How the Coronavirus is Shaping the 2020 Election

Ian Wentzlaff

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Elderly woman in a white long sleeve shirt, mask, carrying a black purse with her as she walks outside

2020, a year already destined to be recorded as one of the most bizarre times in recent history, adds another layer of intrigue in November: the presidential election will take place in the midst of a deadly pandemic sweeping across the globe.

Voters across the country are entering uncharted territory this fall; individual health concerns about contracting coronavirus will lead many to vote by mail for the first time.

Coronavirus has afflicted nearly every part of the world, but the United States in particular has felt its ravaging effects. The U.S. has accounted for over 200 thousand of the 1.15 million deaths related to coronavirus worldwide.

Another way of thinking about this: one out of every five people killed by the virus was an American citizen. This statistic weighs heavily on the minds of voters in the upcoming election, as the decision to vote traditionally or by mail needs to be made.

Microscopic image focused on a virus
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There is much confusion surrounding mail-in ballots, and rumors about the likelihood of voter fraud abound. The reality is that voter fraud of any kind is extremely rare in the United States. This extends to mail-in voting.

Causing more confoundment is the fact that voting regulations vary from state to state. Places like Hawaii, where mail-in ballots have been the norm for some time, will presumably have little trouble implementing this method again in this election.

On the flip side, a state like Alabama that only allows voters to register for absentee ballots may find the increased number of mailed-in votes difficult to process.

Yet another wrinkle in the mail-in ballot complex is the necessitation of so-called secrecy envelopes that are required by some states. Further, any vote cast via mail without a said envelope, which are sometimes called “naked ballots,” may not be counted.

However, the need for secrecy envelopes ceased to exist when mail-in ballots began being counted at a separate location from the public polling places, thus eliminating the need for secrecy.

These regulations may deter some voters from opting for a mail-in ballot this election. However, others may fear that the risk of contracting a deadly virus is too great at public polling locations, where thousands of people will congregate.

The virus’s recent resurgence in Europe has led many experts to predict that the United States will also see a spike in the number of cases very soon. This second wave may hit just in time for the election, and that unfortunate timing only adds to the existing fears of voters.

In this upcoming election, no matter which political party you align with or which candidate you prefer in the White House, vote in whichever way makes you the most comfortable.

If the risk of contracting coronavirus frightens you, know that all states are required to allow absentee ballots, and most states support general mail-in voting. Make sure to familiarize yourself with your state’s voting regulations, and most importantly: VOTE!

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