Confirmation of Jones’ appointment follows weeks of speculation surrounding the Sri Lankan artist, who was originally listed as the event’s headliner. After threats by ticketholders to boycott the event in the wake of MIA’s comments on the Black Lives Matter movement – in which she called for Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to highlight issues facing Syrians as well as black Americans – the festival has reconfigured its lineup, dropping the politically charged rapper.
“After discussing the situation with the artist and the community, a decision was agreed upon by all involved that MIA will no longer headline Afropunk London,” a statement from the festival read.
Their message continued:
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.
The artist first met criticism following an interview with the Evening Standard in April. “It’s interesting that in America the problem you’re allowed to talk about is Black Lives Matter,” MIA told a reporter. “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.”
After a social media backlash, MIA last month said that she would no longer perform at Afropunk, tweeting that she had been “told to stay in my lane”. “Ha,” she wrote, “there is no lane for 65mil refugees who’s lanes are blown up!”
This article was written by Guardian music, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 19th July 2016 12.56 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010