Rihanna has opened up on her own experiences of racism, explaining how her own family were subjected to traumatising immigration checks when she was growing up in Barbados.
In a new interview, the singer explained how her mother was subjected to discrimination after moving to the Caribbean island from Guyana – the former British colony in South America.
“The Guyanese are like the Mexicans of Barbados,” she told British Vogue . “So I identify – and that’s why I really relate and empathise with Mexican people or Latino people, who are discriminated against in America. I know what it feels like to have the immigration come into your home in the middle of the night and drag people out.”
“Not my mother, my mother was legal,” she added. “But let’s just say I know what that fight looks like. I’ve witnessed it. I’ve been in it. I was probably, what, eight years old when I experienced that in the middle of the night. So I know how disheartening it is for a child – and if that was my parent that was getting dragged out of my house, I can guarantee you that my life would have been a shambles.”
Since moving to London three years ago, the singer explained that the city gave her a new perspective on racial injustice.
“I think police brutality is probably extremely severe in America, but racism is alive everywhere. Everywhere,” she said.
“It’s the same [in the UK]. It’s either blatant, which is becoming more and more of a norm, or it’s underlying, where people don’t even know they’re being obvious about it. You know, it’s just a subconscious layer that’s embedded from their entire core.”
Her comments come after she previously turned down the Super Bowl halftime show in support of Colin Kaepernick – who was exiled by the NFL after he kneeled during the US National Anthem to protest against police brutality.
In the same interview, Rihanna also spoke about the wait for her forthcoming ninth album, saying that she won’t release it until she’s happy with it.
“I don’t want my albums to feel like themes,” she said. “There are no rules. There’s no format. There’s just good music, and if I feel it, I’m putting it out.”