Trading card company Topps apologizes and removes BTS card showing violent’ and ‘racist’ imagery after backlash

bts grammys 2021

  • 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.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

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.

Read more: Dive Studios is trying to turn K-Pop fans into podcast listeners by grabbing their attention on social media

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.”

Similarly, Fatima Farha, an audience editor at USA Today, tweeted that the card was “downright racist” for its depiction of violence toward Asians.

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.

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.”

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.”

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.

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American Airlines flight diverted to Phoenix after passengers fight over racial slur

American Airlines Plane
American Airlines Boeing 787-9 takes off from Los Angeles international Airport, California on January 13, 2021.

  • Flight 776 between Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles had to be diverted to Phoenix.
  • Kelly Pichardo, 30, and Leeza Rodriguez, 29, were asked to stop using a slur by another passenger.  
  • Both women were charged with disorderly conduct and Pichardo also faced an additional assault charge.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

An American Airlines flight was diverted after two women got into a fight with another passenger over their use of a racial slur.

Flight 776 between Dallas-Fort Worth Airport and Los Angeles had to be diverted to Phoenix on Wednesday due to the incident. 

Kelly Pichardo, 30, and Leeza Rodriguez, 29, were asked to stop using the term by another passenger, according to Phoenix Police. 

In a statement seen by NBC News, Sgt. Mercedes Fortune of Phoenix Police said: Kelly Pichardo became upset and allegedly spat at the male passenger who had asked her to stop using that language,”

“The male passenger then began to record the two women and that is when Leeza Rodriguez struck the man’s hand to keep him from recording the incident.”

Both women were charged with disorderly conduct upon landing at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, where Pichardo also faced an additional charge of assault, the Arizona Republic reported.

American Airlines spokesman Derek Walls told the Arizona Republic: “Their behavior was disturbing and unacceptable, and they have been placed on our internal refuse list pending further investigation.”

“We continue to investigate this incident and are working directly with impacted customers to ensure their well-being. We thank our crew members for their professionalism in managing a difficult situation.”

The flight continued onto California without any further issues. 

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