M.I.A. has weighed in on the Black Lives Matter movement in a new interview with London’s Evening Standard magazine.
When asked about Beyonce’s Super Bowl performance and her Black Power salute to the Black Lives Matter movement this year, M.I.A. — who was sued by the NFL in 2014 for flashing the middle finger while performing in the 2012 Super Bowl — responded that she hadn’t seen the performance but didn’t feel like she missed out on anything.
“It’s interesting that in America the problem you’re allowed to talk about is Black Lives Matter,” she told the magazine. “It’s not a new thing to me — it’s what Lauryn Hill was saying in the 1990s, or Public Enemy in the 1980s.”
She continued, saying, “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 American TV program, you cannot create that tag on Twitter, Michelle Obama is not going to hump you back.”
M.I.A. later clarified her comments on Twitter, saying her criticism was about what one is allowed to stand up for on American platforms.
In her own music, M.I.A. has focused on issues like the refugee crisis in Europe. Last November, the London-born singer shared the video for her track “Borders” on Apple Music. In the video, M.I.A. accompanies a group of refugees as they scale tall wire fences and sit in crowded boats, fleeing their persecutors.
Since her comments about Black Lives Matter were made public, several people, including activists associated with the movement have responded on Twitter.
Deray McKesson, an activist with the Black Lives Matter movement, criticized M.I.A. for her comments.
He later tweeted that though M.I.A.’s comments were “misguided,” they may “create space for us to talk about coalition building in movement spaces.”
Johnetta Elzie, another prominent activist, said M.I.A. “really has no clue” about the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S.
Read the rest of the interview with M.I.A. here.