On Sunday, activists in New York City continued calls for an end to anti-Asian hate. As seen at many demonstrations in the last year, most were wearing facemasks as they marched through the streets, protesting racial injustice and drawing attention to recent racially-motivated violence. Besides reducing the spread of coronavirus, this allowed Rihanna to go incognito among the crowd.
In footage shared to social media by Rihanna’s assistant Tina Truong, the singer can be seen holding a neon pink placard that reads: “#StopAsianHate.” Wearing a black facemask, dark sunglasses, and a baseball cap, she’s basically unrecognisable, surprising fellow protesters when she reveals her Instagram handle is none other than @badgalriri.
Another video, shared to TikTok by a leader of the march, Jeannie Jay Park, shows Rihanna dancing to chants of “my body, my business” and “this is what community looks like”.
“I was yelling at Rihanna all day yesterday,” the activist writes in a caption. “And I had no idea.”
The movement to stop Asian hate has grown in the last few months, following a disturbing spike in anti-Asian hate crimes tied to the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, a report found that 3,800 Asian Americans reported hate-related incidents between March 2020 and February this year, with actual figures assumed to be much higher.
The NYC demonstration also follows weeks of protests sparked by a mass shooting in Atlanta on March 16, which left eight dead. Six of those killed were women of Asian descent, targeted in three spas across the city. Robert Long, a 21-year-old, has been charged with the murder, though law enforcement has been criticised for accepting his claims that the killings weren’t racially motivated.
“He apparently has an issue,” officer Jay Baker said of Long in a March 17 press conference, “what he considers a sex addiction, and he sees these locations as a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.”
“He was fed up and at the end of his rope, and yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did.” Baker’s comments were referenced at the Sunday march, through Truong’s placard reading: “‘Bad day?!’ #Call it a hate crime.”
View images from the Stop Asian Hate rally below, and get more information on anti-Asian hate resources and organisations you can support here.