Rihanna: Unapologetic, Free, and Sexy as fuck.
Hey y’all! Let’s be real, you probably already know who I am for better and for worse. If you don’t, my name is Samer Alhato and I’m 19 years young. Before I go any further I want to thank Ebba and Alex for giving me this opportunity to rant about my love and admiration for Rihanna.
I was born in Palestine, and immigrated to America with my family when I was 5 in 2001. I’m sure many people are aware of the struggle that comes with being an immigrant in such a large country. Culture shock was definitely a thing that persisted through my life, and my family moved around Chicago for a long time. We’ve finally settled in a Chicago suburb surrounded by beautiful people and an established community. And this isn’t any average community: I live in what many people call “Little Palestine”, a title given to my suburb for having the largest concentration of Palestinians in America. I’m currently a sophomore in college finishing up my Chemistry (pray 4 me) and Anthropology majors as well as my Middle Eastern Studies minor. When I’m not in college I’m working full time as a customer service representative at Walgreens (keep praying for me) or assistant director at a private accounting firm (I make some good ass money there). In my free time I volunteer at the United Holy Land Fund, a nonprofit organization for Palestine that my mother has been working at for over a decade.
Believe it or not, between my social activism, college classes and constant thirst for sex, I do find time for one thing: Rihanna. I actually got to see her (beautiful) ass live, twice. The first time was when I was a Junior in high school, in 2013. I was VIP, but not front row. Granted, I was barely 16 and those seats were what I was able to afford with my job at the time. You know what’s actually really funny is the fact that I had to beg my mom to let me go. No one from our family had EVER been to a concert before. Being the first born, I knew how to pull the strings to my mother’s heart. I was after all her most accomplished offspring (bahahaha). She eventually let me go and the rest is history. I won’t bore you with the details. Just know I cried with some white girl next to me when Rihanna popped outta nowhere singing “Mother Mary”. She followed me on Twitter a month later, thanks to my zaddy @oooshii.
Now, here’s what I’ve been DYING to write about. April 15th I got to see Rihanna live again, 3 years later at the United Center. The Anti World Tour was here, in Chicago. This time – I was front row. Y’all, I looked so damn sexy…’cause I was legit planning on getting laid after the concert. But the dick appointment got cancelled cause men are trash and we benefit from the patriarchy too much. Alas, I am still salty. But whatever, back to the real tea and that’s how god damn amazing SHE was. I’m still in such awe that I can’t really give a professional review, but I’ll try my best. First of all, she’s got one heck of an ass on her body. I’m sorry I just had to say that ‘cause GOD DAMN. Everything she did wrong during the Diamond World Tour was fixed. Seating? Fixed. Lighting? Fixed. Her wardrobe was done in a way to allow for quick transition, easy breathing, and to allow room for a lot of agility. The stage was still high this time, but not nearly as high as last time. She was on a whole ‘nother level than last time. Rihanna had clearly been perfecting herself over the years. The fact that she started at the end of the stadium made me really happy for people that couldn’t afford front row. Queen of capital equality! She made her way to the main stage as she wrapped up “Sex With Me”, my favorite gospel song. That’s when the stadium went wild. Some ass-clapping music was playing in the back and BAM! “It’s not even my burfday..” she cooed. And then immediately, to my pleasure, she hit her mark for the choreography. That’s when I knew Rihanna wasn’t playing games anymore. I knew what to look out for next – “Love On The Brain”, which was towards the end of the concert. I needed to hear her hit the notes and ascend to the highest level of Heaven. An honorable mention to her performances of “Same Ol’ Mistakes” and “Diamonds”, two of the greatest songs to grace this god forsaken planet. Let me be brutally honest for a second, though. Could she have danced better? Yeah. Could she have hit more notes? Yeah. But you know what the coolest thing about Rihanna is? She’s never going to peak. Because she gets better, and better, and better…and then you ask yourself “will she ever top this?”, and guess what: she does.
I gotta say…I am so proud of Rihanna after witnessing how alive she was on stage during the AWT. I liked that one part where she recognized me and held my hand during “FourFiveSeconds”. Robyn, if you’re ever reading this, I want to fight your ass for recognizing me but not taking me backstage. You’d probably win though anyways. Although, after seeing you live I can say one thing firmly: Any doubts anyone has about Rihanna can be settled after the Anti World Tour. She’s proven all her critics wrong. I can truly say now with full confidence that anyone who critiques Rihanna is biased. That’s why I’m what they call “Rihanna Navy”. We just don’t give a fuck lol. And we continue to prosper in our personal lives because we don’t waste time worrying about people that disagree with our lifestyles. And I think that’s why we’re so close to Rihanna, and why she’s so close to us. We’re all rebels, paving our own paths in our own lives. And the funny thing is I wasn’t always like this. I was shy, complicit, easily conforming. I hid away who I was for such a long time. Rihanna, as a woman in a male dominated industry (and world), truly inspired me to stop caring so much about what other people had to say about me, or would say about who I really was. She’s inspired me to be unapologetic.
On top of not giving a rat’s ass about her haters, Rihanna is in all aspects, free. She’s what we call “carefree”. I think that’s my favorite quality about her. Reading her interviews really gave me a glimpse inside her brain. She doesn’t view nudity as a bad thing, and in fact thinks it can be great for one’s confidence. So in context to sexuality, Rihanna has played a huge role in my life with that too. I’m a very sexually driven person, and I think that’s because I spent a long time hiding that part of me for multiple reasons. I’ve spent so long censoring who I was and who I wanted to be. I thought for once, it’s time to do what I want. It’s time to enjoy what I feel is natural. I think Rih might have had the same self-realization moment too. We spend so much of our resources trying to conform to standards we did not construct, and when we look back on our lives we will see that we did not live as freely as we wanted to.
Now before y’all judge me as some crazy fangirl, you should know that…well, you’re probably right. Hahaha jokes aside, I promise I’m not obsessed. My life does not revolve around Rihanna, and I swear I’ve only dreamt of her like 3 or 10 times. #JokesForDays. My life is mostly social activism on and off social media, studying as much as I can about Palestine, and work work work work work. I’ve never really hid my admiration for Rihanna though! Like let’s be honest: she’s hot as hell, talented af, and so down to earth it’s honestly hard not to love this woman. I feel a personal connection to her and I promise, I’m not being weird. She’s talked to me many times, so it’s hard not to love her! Once, she randomly messaged me on Twitter sharing her experience of dealing with her grandmother’s illness. I was in shock. This woman, a global superstar, took time to directly message me and offer me advice. And get this – she’s done it TONS of times before. I could go on and on about all the times she’s been there for me but the moment that stood out to me the most was when I asked her to tweet “#FreePalestine”. I asked her to tweet that during the summer of 2014, when Israel launched “Operation Protective Edge” on Gaza, effectively killing hundreds of Palestinian children and destroying thousands of homes. I remember literally yelling when I saw her tweet it moments later. She has since deleted it and tweeted a more two-sided tweet, but nonetheless I was thankful for the attention she brought to the issue.
This brings me to our next topic: the Anti era as a whole. Without a doubt, this is my favorite Rihanna era. Musically and artistically, this is objectively her best era. She has done everything she did not do before, whether it be with actual production of music or her vocals. This era is very precious to me for some reason and although I cannot pinpoint it, I think it’s because the nature of the album. Music aside, Rihanna as an artist has always gone against the grain. I think with this album she definitely flipped everything upside down. She went against the grain, but in a different way. Anti itself as an embodiment is something I can relate to – opposition. In all aspects of my life, I have opposed many things. Whether it be oppression, stereotypes, rhetoric, or conforming to the ideals of those above me, this album helps me to continue striving for a form of self-identity and self-actualization. With that being said, it’s near obvious that my favorite song on the album is “Same Ol’ Mistakes”, a Tame Impala cover. Rihanna’s voice added a new dimension to an already personal song to me, and I couldn’t have wished for anything more. The song is all about embracing change, but with a touch of harsh reality. You’re not who you used to be…is that for better or for worse? I can especially relate to the song because of who I am right now, and who I strive to be. I’ve definitely changed in many aspects, but I continue to make elementary mistakes and put myself down for it. I’ve also had my fair share of cutting loose ends with friends because of clashing ideals. I genuinely don’t know anymore what I want to do half the time because I’ve lost so many friendships.
And that’s when it kicks in. I shouldn’t give a fuck. People come and go, doors open and close all the time. What matters is that I continue striving to perfect who I am, and I think that’s where Robyn and I align. We never stop working. So in many aspects, I guess you could say I’m a stan. But I know for a fact Rih and I are friends, so I don’t think there’s an age limit for me to stop supporting a friend. I hope further down the line she takes more radical approaches on social justice issues, rather than being very low-key about her stances in interviews or music videos. Robyn, do not be afraid of fucking up. Do not shy away from having a crazy opinion. After all, you have the right to believe whatever you want. I know she performed in Israel before, but I forgave her long ago. It’s no secret that Israel has the strongest rebranding of colonization and apartheid we’ve ever seen. I’ve since written about Palestine A LOT on Twitter and having her follow has definitely affected my want to educate people. I hope she’s genuinely learned something! I am the child of Palestinian refugees – so I too am a refugee. Rihanna makes me believe that in a world of white men and women dictating what happens, that I too can continue to go against the grain and create beautiful art through my writing and thought process.
I’ve decided to be who I am, wholeheartedly and unapologetically. There is no doubt in my mind that Rihanna has brought on my new level of self-confidence since my early teenage years. It is not my job to apologize to other people for who I am. It is not my job to explain to other people who I am. It is not my job to tell other people that I am a genuine human being, that I am not malevolent. That is their job. All I ask, all that I have ever asked, is to be treated as a human being. I have only ever asked for bigoted jingoism to not be injected into every aspect of my life, and that at least an illusion of decency remain. If Rihanna’s confidence in her sexuality bothers you, that’s you problem. If my confidence in my sexuality bothers you, that’s still also your problem. Tolerating us is not an accomplishment. We don’t need you to “tolerate” us. We don’t need you to merely put up with our presence. We demand to be acknowledged. And we will continue to push boundaries with our bodies, our art, our voices. No longer will we be silenced or censored. Thank you Rihanna, for helping me keep the discourse alive. Thank you for showing me what it means to be a true rebel.
Edit: As you might have noticed, our Fan of the week is Samer who in true ANTI fashion ignored our questions and wrote an essay instead. ;) /Alex & Ebba
BITCHHHHHHHH I just wanna say I love Samer from the bottom of my heart. That’s my daddy I don’t care. Watch him take over the world one day. Just watch. / Ebba
If Ebba’s gonna speak then so am I! SAMER you’re MY zaddy! .هذه حقيقة, نقطة إلى السطر / Alex