Rihanna is one of the biggest pop stars in the world, so when rumors swirled that she had been asked to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show last year, many believed it was true. When she didn’t, it fueled new rumors that she got the offer and turned it down.
In a new interview with Vogue on Wednesday, Rihanna confirmed she turned down what would have been an iconic performance to show solidarity with Colin Kaepernick.
“Absolutely,” Rihanna said when asked if she rejected the Super Bowl gig. “I couldn’t dare do that. For what? Who gains from that? Not my people. I just couldn’t be a sellout. I couldn’t be an enabler. There’s things within that organization that I do not agree with at all, and I was not about to go and be of service to them in any way.”
Maroon 5 was the headlining act of the Super Bowl LIII halftime show, and Travis Scott and Big Boi joined them on stage.
Former NFL player Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem as a silent sideline protest against police brutality and racial injustice. Among his critics is President Trump.
Like Kaepernick, Rihanna is no stranger to standing up for what she believes in – and taking a stand against the president.
When Mr. Trump called the mass shooting in El Paso “an act of cowardice” and blamed a “mental illness problem” for both that mass shooting and one in Dayton, Ohio, Rihanna responded on Twitter: “Um . . . Donald, you spelled terrorism wrong!”
Rihanna told Vogue the days after those shootings were “devastating.”
“People are being murdered by war weapons that they legally purchase. This is just not normal,” she told the magazine. “That should never, ever be normal. And the fact that it’s classified as something different because of the color of their skin? It’s a slap in the face. It’s completely racist.”
“Put an Arab man with that same weapon in that same Walmart and there is no way that Trump would sit there and address it publicly as a ‘mental health problem.’ The most mentally ill human being in America right now seems to be the president.”
The singer, fashion designer and beauty mogul, whose real name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, is an immigrant from Barbados – and proud of it. On the 4th of July, she wore a shirt that said “immigrant” on it. Vogue asked if she had any advice for U.S. immigrants during this time in our nation’s history.
“What do you say? What can you say? It’s gonna get better? I almost feel sick to my stomach,” she responded. “I don’t even believe this is happening in real life. In front of my eyes. In front of the world. It’s not even hidden. This is blatant.”
Despite being an immigrant who cannot legally vote, the singer encourages her followers to do so. When a commenter asked if she was even a U.S. citizen, she responded: “Nah I’m an immigrant tryna get yo country together. Did u vote?”
And when a journalist tweeted that her hit song “Don’t Stop the Music” played at a Trump rally last year, Rihanna responded: “Not for much longer. . . .”
“Badgal Ri Ri” now lives in London, but still feels connected to the U.S.
“I don’t feel outside the fray,” she told Vogue. “When I see something happen to any woman, a woman of any minority, kids, black men being murdered in the streets—I can’t remove myself from that.”
Still, she is hopeful. “I feel like the darkness has actually forced people to find this light within them where they want to do better,” she said. “It’s easy when you think everything is going really well and perfect. When everything is flowers and butterflies and you’re in your own bubble and your own world. But to see it, to know it’s happening – it pushes you to want to be the light in the world.”