Afropunk Declares Solidarity With #BlackLivesMatter, But Stands by Headliner M.I.A.: ‘We Refuse to Participate in Silencing of Other Voices’

Photo: Ian Gavan/2015 Getty Images

Afropunk is standing by M.I.A. as a headliner after the singer's controversial comments about the #BlackLivesMatter movement initially caused her to announce that she would not perform at the inaugural London festival. The controversy came when music fans threatened to boycott Afropunk over comments M.I.A. made back in April, when she said: "Is Beyoncé or Kendrick Lamar going to say Muslim Lives Matter? Or Syrian Lives Matter? Or this kid in Pakistan matters?" M.I.A. initially seemed to heed the fury, tweeting earlier this week, "Sorry I'm not doin Afropunk. I've been told to stay in my lane. Ha there is no lane for 65mil refugees who's lanes are blown up! #nolanes." Now Afropunk is saying that M.I.A. will perform after all, because "The debate is healthy and as a people who have long been silenced, we refuse to participate in silencing of other voices." The festival insisted that they "stand in solidarity with the struggles of Black people in America and worldwide, and acknowledge that Black Lives Matter is indeed a declaration of a global struggle," while also declaring their "solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters, including black Muslims" and with "the 65 million ... displaced human beings." Of M.I.A.'s comments specifically, Afropunk stated: "To us, the fact that M.I.A.'s comments sparked dialogue about a global view of the Black struggle is not a failing ... M.I.A. will still perform at AFROPUNK London." Read the full statement below.