Fans threatened to boycott when M.I.A. was announced last week as headliner of the inaugural AFROPUNK London. Today (June 23) the festival said in a statement that it is standing by M.I.A. as a headliner for the September 24 event.
The artist upset many people when she criticized political activism in America, specifically the Black Lives Matter movement. Back in April she told ES Magazine, “It's interesting that in America the problem you're allowed to talk about is Black Lives Matter. 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.”
This made her choice as headliner rather interesting, as many interpreted her comments as "anti-black."
I have a great deal of respect and admiration for you, @Afropunk. But on the subject of MIA's antiblackness, we staunchly disagree.— Son of Baldwin (@SonofBaldwin) June 23, 2016
But AFROPUNK disagrees. "To us, the fact that MIA's comments sparked dialogue about a global view of the Black struggle is not a failing," their statement read in part. "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."
As one Twitter user put it, "So you think that Black people should pay to watch an artist who said Black people are selfish w their activism."
So you think that Black people should pay to watch an Artist who said Black people are selfish w their activism. https://t.co/PzZLDGnGZO— rt. hon. home secretaryina (@MinaLioness) June 23, 2016
The first AFROPUNK festival was held in Brooklyn in 2005. It derived from a documentary called _Afro-Punk _that spotlighted black punk kids in America, and was intended to give a community to alt-urban kids everywhere. In 2015 it expanded to Atlanta and Paris. Some fans feel that now that AFROPUNK has expanded, it is leaving its original supporters and vision behind.
as usual Black people make for those fake hotep mvts rich and they forgot their original customer base when money is on the table— Nubiahbella La Negra (@Nubiahbella) June 23, 2016
Native Londoners spoke up as well. The hosts of the U.K. podcast Melanin Millennials felt disrespected by AFROPUNK's decision, especially when there are many talented black British artists who could be more appropriate for an afrocentric event.
it's disrespectful at this point. We have many talented black artists worthy of headlining an afro centric event here.— Wanna Be Podcast (@WannaBePodcast) June 23, 2016
AFROPUNK's statement argued that structural racism and other systems of oppression are the common chain in the issues M.I.A. was speaking up for, and those of Black Lives Matter. But Twitter wasn't buying the kumbuya sentiment:
3. Perhaps Afropunk should be renamed Global Punk since it wants MIA to perform despite her harmful anti-Black words https://t.co/zdtYcBndNz— WhatFreshHellisThis (@BlackBolekaja) June 23, 2016
And some people, despite AFROPUNK's reasoning, are still refusing to support the festival by buying a ticket unless M.I.A. is dropped.
not getting my afropunk ticket until they drop MIA n if they don't thats money saved 4 other shows— (@idkwusgoinon) June 23, 2016
You can read AFROPUNK's statement in full below: