What M.I.A. could have said about the Black Lives Matters Movement…
Ok I’ll admit it, I am not always aware of the types of discrimination happening globally. And I suspect there are many other Black people that are in the same boat. BUT, this is no fault of the Black Lives Matter movement. They (I consider myself a strong supporter although I am holding myself to standard of doing more) have done such great work shining a light on the injustices that occur to Black people around the world. M.I.A. has done similar work for refugees and children subject to violence in other countries. So why exactly did M.I.A. feel it necessary to criticize a movement that seemingly coexists with her own values in her recent interview with Evening Standard?
A close friend of mine offered a simple solution: All M.I.A had to do was reach out to BLM. This is not a movement dedicated to denigrating other POC’s movements, it’s dedicated to uplifting Black voices. And because of their commitment,, a potentially stronger coalition, or at least demonstration, could have been planned. Something M.I.A. failed to mention is the fact that many refugees are Black, something that she has showcased in her own videos. The same thing can be said for a large population of the Muslim community. Black, Muslim, and refugee are not necessarily mutually exclusive terms.
It’s funny that one of her most controversial quotes from the interview could have offered the most wisdom. She says,
“It’s interesting that in America the problem you’re allowed to talk about is Black Lives Matter.”
She then goes on to mention the necessity of terms like “Muslim Lives Matter.” At this point it’s been explained in several thousand different ways why BLM doesn’t detract from other movements, so I won’t expand. However, I read this particular quote as this a critique on mainstream news outlets, and the conservative right wing, who act like Muslim is a dirty word. It’s gotten to the point where a major Republican candidate has suggested that Muslims should be banned from entering the country. So, we totally get that this is an issue that has to be addressed, but demanding that Beyonce or Kendrick be the ones to do it isn’t reasonable.
“Is Beyoncé or Kendrick Lamar going to say Muslim Lives Matter? Or Syrian Lives Matter? Or this kid in Pakistan matters?”
This is the point where M.I.A could have easily used her platform to bring attention to another important issue, but decided not to. Also, Black people have never been “allowed” to talk about BLM on tv. Many have fought and died for that right, and continue to do so, but you already knew that.
Calling the BLM movement out for doing too much, while simultaneously berating them for not doing enough for other groups makes no sense. Although M.I.A. could have used her time with the magazine as a chance to issue a gentle reminder to remember POC suffering globally, or to reach out directly to BLM, it turned into a random and unnecessary critique on leaders in the movement, that ended up accomplishing little. What she, and other skeptics of the movement have to keep in mind is that, A: Black people are not in charge of speaking up on behalf of every group suffering in the world, and B: Being pro-BLM does not equal anti-solidarity for other POC.
You can read her full interview here: http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/esmagazine/single-mother-refugee-campaigner-and-controversialist-meet-mia-a3228831.html