The Afropunk Festival in London has dropped M.I.A. as its headlining act after she made controversial statements regarding the Black Lives Matter movement in April. The controversial artist was initially announced as the headliner in June. In a conversation with Evening Standard magazine, she stated:
"It’s interesting that in America the problem you’re allowed to talk about is Black Lives Matter,” M.I.A. told Evening Standard 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. 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.”
The event organizers initially defended M.I.A. and kept her on the lineup, arguing, "The debate is healthy and as people who have long been silenced, we refuse to participate in silencing of other voices." Today, however, the festival announced that Maya will no longer perform at the festival, in a decision that was “agreed upon by all involved.” A new headliner and a second set of artists will be announced on July 19. You can read the full statement from Afropunk's organizers below.
AFROPUNK has always stood side by side with the thousands of people globally who are involved with our events each year, from the fans attending an AFROPUNK showcase for the first time, to the headline artists playing for capacity crowds on our main festival stages.
A key part of the AFROPUNK ethos has always been educating one another, breaking down boundaries and sparking conversation about race, gender, religion, sex, culture and everything that makes life worth living. This exchange has meant receiving wisdom, as well as imparting it in the most respectful way possible, with the participation of our entire community of fans, creators and artists. This community is something we are incredibly proud of, and this community will always be a priority for us.
We are excited and honored to do our first AFROPUNK Festival in London and want to do it right. After discussing the situation with the artist and the community, a decision was agreed upon by all involved that M.I.A will no longer headline AFROPUNK London.
AFROPUNK will be releasing a new headliner and the second wave of artists on July 19th.