Today is the start our second week of social distancing and self-isolation in Canada and it’s been fascinating to see the variety of responses that people, especially celebrities, have had to the global pandemic. Some, like the Biebers, are learning TikTok dances at home and enjoying isolated walks in nature. Others are producing content and entertainment to lighten the mood. A lot of people are just complaining, or worse, ignoring the instructions of the health authorities. None, however, can top Rihanna who, over the weekend, announced that she would be donating $5 million dollars in aid to the US and other impoverished countries affected by coronavirus through her Clara Lionel Foundation.
The money will go towards supporting local food banks, purchasing medical equipment, and providing testing supplies to poorer nations. As part of the donation, RiRi has also pledged $700,000 to buy more ventilators for her home country Barbados. This last detail is key because if you’ve read about the heartbreaking challenges in Italy and the threat looming over the United States and many other countries, a shortage of ventilators can be disastrous for respiratory related diseases like COVID-19.
Rihanna’s foundation (CLF) has a strong track record of immense and rapid support during emergencies. In fact, changing the way the world responds to emergencies is a core part of the foundation. It’s also an incredible way to support countries that may feel the effects of the pandemic much more than in other nations where healthcare resources and support are more equipped to handle this crisis.
In addition to all the good it will do, this donation highlights the spectrum of celebrity action during this time. Rihanna isn’t the only celebrity to have donated, but at least to the public, she’s at the top of a list that is disappointingly short. As people are laid off, businesses are shut down, and institutions are hemorrhaging money, there has never been more of a need for those with excess to support those who are struggling. Instead, we see more stories of local communities rallying together than billionaires and celebrities donating their wealth to help those in need. It’s why tone-deaf, albeit well-meaning, efforts to boost morale are perceived as empty gestures without much real value.
Rihanna, as always, is setting a standard by setting an example. She’s got her head down and she’s working. The donation announcement came via her foundation’s website and Instagram which was subsequently picked up by TMZ and other major news outlets.
The statement on the site is clear and concise, laying out where the money will be going and what it will support, but I really appreciate how they’ve framed the issue at the beginning:
“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, this pandemic will affect us all. And for the world’s most vulnerable, the worst may be yet to come.”
That’s the perspective the CLF is approaching this pandemic. That’s how Rihanna is thinking about it. And that’s probably how we all should be thinking about it too. It’s also why we haven’t gotten R9 yet, which is why everyone needs to chill and let Rihanna save the world.