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MIA will still perform at Afropunk festival, despite threats of boycott over Black Lives Matter comments

By | Published on Friday 24 June 2016


London’s Afropunk festival has defended MIA and said that she is still scheduled to headline the event in September, despite the musician saying earlier this week that she had pulled out. There had been calls to cancel her appearance over comments she made about the Black Lives Matter movement earlier this year.

In an interview with the Evening Standard in April, MIA said: “Is Beyonce 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”.

She later said of her comments on Twitter: “I’m not Muslim. My question was, on American platforms what do they allow you to stand up for in 2016?”

Many threatened to boycott Afropunk, which takes place at Alexandra Palace on 24 Sep, unless MIA’s headline set was pulled. This led her to tweet on Monday: “Sorry I’m not doin Afropunk. I’ve been told to stay in my lane. Ha, there is no lane for 65 million refugees whose lanes are blown up!” However, last night festival organisers issued a statement saying the MIA would still perform, while defending her earlier comments.

“To us, the fact that MIA’s comments sparked dialogue about a global view of the Black struggle is not a failing”, said the statement. “We also know that without the community that supports our platform and our events, there would be no Afropunk, so we would never elevate an artist or performer who we considered at odds with our ethos or not supportive of those we stand beside. We’ve read and welcomed the critique of MIA’s participation… The debate is healthy and as people who have long been silenced, we refuse to participate in silencing of other voices”.

It added: “MIA will still perform at Afropunk London, and there is a huge amount of UK / global talent still to be announced. We hope that this event also brings to light the experiences of black Brits, immigrants and refugees in the UK, who are continuously erased. To our community: trust that when your day standing in the circle of the criticised comes, we will have your back. Let’s love and struggle along with one another – and turn up on the system”.

Read the full statement here.