The long feud between the US and Cuba means that doing a cover shoot with Rihanna in the communist country was already controversial before she even opened her mouth for the accompanying interview. But on top of that, she’s said some pretty BIG things.
One being that Rachel Dolezal – you know, the white woman who posed as a black woman for years and years and hit the headlines after it was discovered her parents were white? – is a ‘hero’.
Rihanna's interview with Vanity Fair took place in May, when the Dolezal story kicked off, so it’s unsurprising the topic came up, but her take on a civil rights activist blacking up for the role is perhaps a little surprising: ‘I think she was a bit of a hero, because she kind of flipped on society a little bit.
‘Is it such a horrible thing that she pretended to be black? Black is a great thing, and I think she legit changed people’s perspective a bit and woke people up’
We’ll just let that settle for a moment. Meanwhile, Chris Brown was obviously a topic of conversation. When asked about the way the NFL dropped her and Jay Z’s song Run This Town from its football coverage whilst there was controversy over one of their players, Ray Rice, assaulting his wife in footage that went viral, she responded: ‘It’s in the past, and I don’t want to say “Get over it,” because it’s a very serious thing that is still relevant; it’s still real. A lot of women, a lot of young girls, are still going through it. A lot of young boys too.'
‘It’s not a subject to sweep under the rug, so I can’t just dismiss it like it wasn’t anything, or I don’t take it seriously. But, for me, and anyone who’s been a victim of domestic abuse, nobody wants to even remember it. Nobody even wants to admit it. So to talk about it and say it once, much less 200 times, is like … I have to be punished for it? It didn’t sit well with me.’
And it makes sense – Chris Brown’s mostly been allowed to get on with his life after serving his time, so isn’t it about time Rihanna is no longer having to pay for something she had no control over? It's not as if that's the only thing to have happened in her life...
She also explained why she got back with him after his 2009 assault of her and why, of course, she left:
‘[I] felt that as much pain as this relationship is, maybe some people are built stronger than others. Maybe I’m one of those people built to handle shit like this. I was very protective of him. I felt that people didn’t understand him. Even after…’
She added: ‘You realize after a while that in that situation you’re the enemy. You want the best for them, but if you remind them of their failures, or if you remind them of bad moments in their life, or even if you say I’m willing to put up with something, they think less of you…And if you put up with it, maybe you are agreeing that you [deserve] this, and that’s when I finally had to say, “Uh-oh, I was stupid thinking I was built for this.” Sometimes you just have to walk away.’
As for their relationship now? ‘I don’t hate him. I will care about him until the day I die. We’re not friends, but it’s not like we’re enemies. We don’t have much of a relationship now’
Just FYI, according to American stats, it takes survivors of domestic abuse an average of seven attempts to leave their partners.
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Pictures: Foc Kan, Annie Leibovitz/Vanity Fair.
This article originally appeared on The Debrief.