In a recent interview with the Evening Standard, M.I.A expressed her disdain at the Black Lives Matter movement, or more so how much publicity it gets compared to the plight of those in Syria, Pakistan or Muslims across the world. She feels the Black Lives Matter movement isn’t anything new to her and wants to know why artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Beyonce, who gave the BLM movement a massive salute when she performed at the Super Bowl this year, aren’t using their stature to bring attention to issues that affect other marginalised minorities.
She went on to say that on American T.V you cannot ask do Syrian Lives Matter?, do Muslim Lives matter? And so on, claiming that its easy for people to talk about Black Lives Matter but where’s the conversation about other minorities facing persecution on a daily basis?
This has obviously upset a lot of people, particularly those who are black. Some have taken to social media to accuse M.I.A of being anti black and being ignorant to the true message behind BLM. I for one will say that despite being a huge fan of M.I.A, she has definitely missed the point here.
I can some what understand what M.I.A is trying to get at here It is true that mainstream media does very little in the way of reporting on issues that affect minorities in South Asia. I only ever see stories about the Syrian refugee crisis given proper new coverage on obscure websites or alternative news channels such as Al-Jazeera. And being South Asian herself, M.I.A feels as if the issues that are affecting her people aren’t being given the same attention as the issues affecting black people.
But with that being said, M.I.A seems to have ignored that talking about Black Lives Matter isn’t a leisurely walk in the park. You only have to look at footage of peaceful rallies supporting the BLM movement turned into utter chaos with people being hosed down, tear gas being thrown into the crowd and the army being enlisted to keep the peace while creating more panic. The only reason why people are able to talk about BLM today is because there are people sacrificing their own safety ,and in some cases their own lives, for the cause. M.I.A said it herself in the very same interview- ‘the status quo doesn’t change unless someone upsets it’.
Furthermore, it isn’t as if Beyonce didn’t receive a barrage of criticism for her Super Bowl performance. She was accused of being anti-police and encouraging a revolt against law enforcement. There was a hashtag on Twitter called #BoycottBeyonce which asked for people to protest outside NFL headquarters and express their outrage that such a racially charged performance was given airtime by the NFL. Beyonce is the biggest star in the world right now, she is untouchable by all accounts, but even her stature couldn’t prevent her from being the victim of criticism.
What bugged me most was that M.I.A asked if Beyonce or Kendrick Lamar would ever ask if Syrian Lives Matter or Muslim Lives Matter as if it is their responsibility to do so. Black people are not the ambassadors for struggles experienced by minorities across the globe just because BLM has gained worldwide attention. What made BLM so powerful is that black people stood united against the unfair treatment of black people by law enforcement. They made their voices so loud by marching in rallies and trending on social media to the point where it was impossible to ignore them.
Rather than tearing down one movement, M.I.A should be using her name and her position in the industry in hopes of creating another movement. All she had to say is that she appreciates and respects what BLM has done and the work that has gone into raising awareness of how black people are being treated in this day and age and hopes other minorities can be inspired to do the same. THAT’S IT!
I don’t think M.I.A believes the public should care less about BLM and more about the plight of other minorities. I think she was trying to say that she wishes the same attention that is given to BLM would be given to other serious issues people face day in day out. Which I think is a fair claim to make, albeit expressed horribly on her part.
M.I.A said knows herself that she has a reputation for being difficult and has been accused of being politically clueless. She doesn’t think its a fair judgement, but if this interview with the Evening Standard is anything to go by, I’d say that reputation is firmly justified.
Read the full interview with M.I.A here http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/esmagazine/single-mother-refugee-campaigner-and-controversialist-meet-mia-a3228831.html