At a glamorous London-based dinner last night (Feb. 4), Charles, Princes of Wales, named Katy Perry as the British Asian Trust's new ambassador. Set up by Charles and British-Asian business leaders in 2007, the trust supports vulnerable people across South Asia. Perry will reportedly work with the organisation to reduce child trafficking and abuse in India.
Charles said meeting Perry in Mumbai the day before his birthday in 2019 "turned out to be a wonderful birthday present," per the Evening Standard. He added: "Given Katy’s long-standing commitment to charitable causes around the world, I’m delighted to be announcing that she has most generously agreed to become an ambassador for the British Asian Trust's Children’s Protection Fund for India."
The singer, who is also a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, said her charity work has taken her "to many parts of the world and opened [her] eyes to the many vulnerabilities of children." As the Independent reports, she also noted that "India has long held a special place in [her] heart," adding: "I was impressed by [the trust's] strong plan ... that will aim to cut child trafficking in half."
Perry is the trust's first non-Asian ambassador, per Metro; a move that has sparked criticism online. Several Twitter users pointed out that Perry was neither British nor Asian and therefore shouldn't have been chosen to represent that population. Some linked her new role to the "white saviour" mentality.
Others brought up Perry's past cultural appropriation incidents, which include making a meme out of a Hindu goddess, dressing as a geisha, and styling her hair in cornrows. In a 2017 interview with civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson, she admitted she'd "made several mistakes" and was trying to educate herself.
Perry hinted that she's not a fan of "clapback" criticism, saying: "Sometimes it takes someone to say, out of compassion, out of love: 'Hey, this is where the origin is.' And not just a clapback. Because it's hard to hear those clapbacks sometimes. Your ego just wants to turn from them."
An existing ambassador for the trust, Nihal Arthanayake, tweeted in defence of Perry's appointment. "Last night I asked @katyperry onstage in a Q&A how people had said to me that her being an Ambassador was a bit 'random,'" he wrote. "She replied that she is passionate about combating the suffering of children and can do something about it. Amazing that she uses her platform."
Fellow ambassador Sonali Shah agreed. "Some of the comments about @katyperry joining us as an ambassador of the @britishasiantst are starting to feel a little ‘stay in your lane’ & dare I say it, at times, racist," she tweeted. "Supporting those in need in South Asia isn’t just the job of British Asians. She cares. And so should you."