Blackswan’s Fatou opens up about being Black in the K-pop industry

"They see me as... almost just a thing behind a screen"

Blackswan member Fatou has opened up about her personal experience as a Black idol in the K-pop industry.

The Senegal-born singer recently spoke to Rolling Stone about the journey she had taken in order to debut as a K-pop idol, sharing that it hasn’t been easy for her to get to where she is today. The singer made her debut as a member of K-pop girl group Blackswan in 2020.

“Let me tell you the cold hard truth: It’s so goddamn difficult,” she told the outlet, in reference to the two-year-long training programme she was required to undergo before her made her debut. “But it’s all worth it at the end of the day.”

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In spite of the arduous training programme, Fatou shared that the hardest part of being an idol for her was the inability to control how people perceive her; especially after finding herself bearing the brunt of public scrutiny as K-pop’s only prominent idol of African descent.

“Sometimes [people] don’t think of idols as human beings. They see me as… almost just a thing behind a screen. But I’m human and I have feelings,” Fatou said, adding that she “almost gave up” on being an idol.

Despite the trials and tribulations she’s had to go through, Fatou maintained that she doesn’t want to discourage other Black people from getting their feet through the door. “If it’s your dream, if you cannot do anything else, and you love it that much? Go after it, literally go after it,” she said.

“I don’t really think of it like, ‘Oh, I’m the only Black K-pop idol,’” Fatou added. “I just do what every other colleague in this industry is doing. I try to stay as far away from that thought as I can, because I feel like if I would think about it, I would drive myself crazy.”

Fatou was added to the group, which first debuted in 2011 as RANIA, in 2020, and is currently joined by fellow bandmates Youngheun, Judy, Leia, Gabi and Sriya. Their last release was the October 2021 single album ‘Close To Me’.

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