She is a trailblazer in music, beauty, and fashion, but Rihanna also routinely deploys her fame in the name of social justice. Over the weekend, the pop icon joined a protest to #StopAsianHate, taking to the streets in New York City on Sunday. Her assistant, Tina Truong, documented their day on Instagram, from making signs to chatting with fellow protesters (some of whom, hilariously, didn’t realize they were in the presence of music royalty).
Rihanna carried a bright green poster reading, "Hate = racism against God!" She was deeply incognito, dressed in a boxy leather ensemble, ball cap, sunglasses, and a XL face mask. Truong captured the moment when a protester asked Rihanna for her Instagram handle. When she tapped it in and the young man saw her 94 million followers, he gasped, “That’s you?!”
Back in February, Rihanna incensed the Indian government by tweeting in support of striking farmers, highlighting an article about internet blackouts at protest sites on the outskirts of the capital Delhi. "Why aren't we talking about this?!" she wrote, drawing 700,000 likes and amplifying the cause to her more than 100 million Twitter followers. Other celebrities, like Greta Thunberg, soon picked up the cause, too. But the Indian ministry of external affairs blasted Rihanna, calling her tweet “propaganda.” Nationalist news sources railed against her, and one pro-government Bollywood actress called the singer a “porn star.”
None of this ruffles Rihanna. She’s the fourth-most-followed person on Twitter — after Barack Obama, Justin Bieber, and Katy Perry. And she’s not shy about flexing her clout for a good cause. In 2016, Rihanna became the first Global Ambassador for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the only worldwide fund dedicated to improving education in developing countries. The pop star tweeted at the leaders of the UK, France, Australia, Norway, Canada, Argentina, Japan, Finland, the Netherlands, and Germany, pressuring all of them to step up their contributions to the GPE. She succeeded in many instances and even helped convince Germany to double its donations twice.
All hail Queen Rihanna! If she can make time to protest with the people while running a $600 million global empire, the rest of us have no excuse not to show up whatsoever.