Although M.I.A. courts controversy in everything she does, she probably didn’t expect the reaction she got to her comments on #BlackLivesMatter. Now, she has a response for critics.
The artist—who grew up in the UK, Sri Lanka and India—made her original comments in an interview with Britain’s Evening Standard (ES) Magazine that was published yesterday (April 21). The former 2012 Super Bowl performer responded to a question about Beyoncé’s Black Panther-honoring Super Bowl 50 performance with the following quote:
It’s interesting that in America the problem you’re allowed to talk about is Black Lives Matter. It’s not a new thing to me—it’s what Lauryn Hill was saying in the 1990s, or Public Enemy in the 1980s. Is Beyoncé or Kendrick Lamar going to say Muslim Lives Matter? Or Syrian Lives Matter? Or this kid in Pakistan matters? That’s a more interesting question. And you cannot ask it on a song that’s on Apple, you cannot ask it on an an American TV programme, you cannot create that tag on Twitter, Michelle Obama is not going to hump you back.
Many social media users and journalists pushed back against her comments. Prominent St. Louis-based activist Johnetta Elzie tweeted that M.I.A.’s statement overlooked media ignorance towards the Ferguson protests:
Wasn’t until the QT burned that news stations landed in STL. America didn’t give a damn Mike’s dead body laid in the streets for 4.5 hours.— Johnetta Elzie (@Nettaaaaaaaa) April 21, 2016
Mic aggregated more tweets, some of which you can see below, that further criticize M.I.A.:
I’m disappointed MIA didn’t use her platform to talk about the intersections between the struggles of Black Americans & the migrant crisis.— Blk Women Directors (@blkwmndirectors) April 21, 2016
I’m really still stuck on “allow”. MIA has been making music about refugees for like 10 years. And it’s all on iTunes.— Game, Blouses. (@DearLeader10) April 21, 2016
M.I.A., whose family was displaced during the Sri Lankan civil war, frequently tackles anti-immigrant sentiment in her music, doubled down on her statements and said her criticism wasn’t towards Beyoncé:
A#blacklivesmatter B#Muslimlivesmatter. I’m not Muslim . My criticism wasn’t about Beyoncé. It’s how u can say A not B right now in 2016.— M.I.A (@MIAuniverse) April 21, 2016
My question was,on American platforms what do they allow you to stand up for in 2016. This has been the number 1 question for me.— M.I.A (@MIAuniverse) April 21, 2016