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Prince Charles Chose Katy Perry As British Asian Trust Ambassador (Even Though She’s Not British or Asian)

Katy Perry is many things: a charismatic pop star, an incredible performer, a doting fiancée to Orlando Bloom. What Perry is not, however, is British — nor is she Asian. So, people around the world were left scratching their heads when Prince Charles named Katy Perry as a British Asian Trust Ambassador on Tuesday, given that the singer lacks certain, er, qualifications. Perry was reportedly chosen for her past support of charitable causes in India, but some on Twitter still wondered if a better representative of British Asian interests could have been appointed in her stead.

In case you’re wondering what exactly this title means, ambassadors like Perry act in the interest of the British Asian Trust, an organization currently campaigning to end child labor in India. Other British Asian Trust ambassadors include BBC journalist Asad Ahmad, cricket coach Azhar Mahmood, DJ Nihal Arthanayake, sports medicine specialist Dr. Zaf Iqbal, and director Gurinder Chadha — all of whom are, notably, both British and Asian.

While presenting Perry with this title, Charles praised her for her “long-standing commitment to charitable causes around the world,” but Twitter wasn’t convinced: Is that really enough, without representing either of the communities she’s now tasked with protecting?

“I love Katy but seriously?” one tweed read. “She’s not British [nor] is she Asian. There are SO MANY BRITISH ASIAN celebrities who should be in her place: Dev Patel, Jameela Jamil, Anjali Mohindra, Parminder Nagra and Riz Ahmed to name a few.”

Another tweet suggested that Joaquin Phoenix’s BAFTA acceptance speech this weekend, in which he told Hollywood point-blank that their industry was making people of color feel unwelcome, had struck a nerve. “This is what happens when white people listen to #JoaquinPhoenix’s #BAFTA speech about dismantling systemic racism,” the tweet read. “They double down and pick Katy Perry to be the face of their Asian Trust.”

While many were simply disappointed in Charles’ choice, others couldn’t help but crack a joke about Scarlett Johansson being overlooked for the role. Johansson faced backlash in 2017 for playing the role of Motoko Kusanagi (referred to as “Major” in the film) in Ghost in the Shell, a film adaptation of the Japanese manga series.

“Her and Scarlett [Johansson] are my two favourite Asian women,” one cracked. “This is outrageous,” another commented, “and hugely disrespectful to Scarlett Johansson.”

Another British Trust Ambassador, Nihal Arthanayake, took to Twitter to defend Perry’s appointment. “Are you suggesting that as a charity the BAT only accept ambassadors who are Asian?” he wrote. “It’s about finding people who are passionate about the work the charity does. She alone helped raise 130k last night.”

Ultimately, Perry lending her star power to this charitable organization is a positive so long as she’s helping them meet their goals. But given our global pattern of choosing white candidates over their equally qualified, nonwhite peers, it’s understandable why her appointment felt a little tough to swallow.

 

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