- Trading card maker Topps has removed and apologized for its “racist” and “tone deaf” BTS trading card.
- The card depicts BTS members getting bruised and beaten during a whack-a-mole game.
- The card’s controversial debut happened the day of a shooting that killed six Asian women.
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Trading card maker Topps has removed and apologized for its BTS sticker card after receiving a wave of backlash from Twitter users who have called the card “violent” and “racist.”
The BTS card originally debuted as a part of Topps’ “2021 Topps Garbage Pail Kids: The Shammy Awards” pack of sticker cards. The collection was unveiled shortly after the 63rd annual Grammy Awards, and featured caricatures of famous musicians, including Billie Eilish as “Buoyant Billie” and Bruno Mars as “U.F. Bruno.”
However, soon after Topps unveiled the Shammy Awards pack and its BTS card, eight people, including six Asian women, were killed in shootings across three Atlanta-area spas and massage parlors. The Atlanta Police Department is still investigating the motive behind this string of attacks, but the shootings have prompted a nationwide condemnation of hate crimes against Asian-Americans in the US, which have been on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic first began.
As a result, shortly after the pack was unveiled, people took to Twitter to air their disappointment in the BTS card, which depicted the Korean boy band getting beaten and bruised by a Grammy award in a whack-a-mole game.
BTS was the first K-pop band to ever perform its own song at the award show, but the group did not end the night with any Grammy wins.
Twitter user @almostdita, who identifies as a member of the “BTS Army” – a nickname for BTS fans –, noted that the card looked obviously different from the other caricatures in the pack, and said Topps was “supporting the hate against Asians.”
-Dita ᴮᴱ⁷ (@almostdita) March 17, 2021
Similarly, Fatima Farha, an audience editor at USA Today, tweeted that the card was “downright racist” for its depiction of violence toward Asians.
-fatima (@fatimafarha_) March 17, 2021
Shortly after this barrage, Topps publicly apologized and announced it would be removing the BTS card.
“We hear and understand our consumers who are upset about the portrayal of BTS in our GPK Shammy Awards product and we apologize for including it,” Topps’ apology read.
-Topps (@Topps) March 17, 2021
However, several Twitter users did not find this apology to be adequate. This includes Jae-Ha Kim, a writer and columnist, who tweeted that the apology was “not accepted.”
-Jae-Ha Kim 김재하 (@GoAwayWithJae) March 17, 2021
Like Kim, Candace Epps-Robertson, an assistant professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, tweeted that the apology did not “feel like an attempt to acknowledge and understand the issue at hand.”
-Dr. Candace Epps-Robertson⁷ (@DrEppsrobertson) March 17, 2021
Between March 19, 2020, and February 28, 2021, Stop AAPI Hate – an organization that monitors anti-Asian racism – logged almost 3,800 incidents of discrimination towards Asian-Americans, which includes: verbal harassment, shunning, physical or online assault, and civil rights violations.
Hate crimes against Asian-Americans in the US have hit an “alarming level” during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report by United Nations officials. The report also placed part of the blame on former President Donald Trump, who has used racist terms like “China virus” in reference to COVID-19.
“We are further concerned by the documented increase in hate and misogynist speech, including incitement to hatred and racial discrimination in public places and online, and the contribution of the President of the United States in seemingly legitimizing these violations,” the report noted.