Quick hit: M.I.A. on building a platform to tell her story

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M.I.A. is a compelling performer in many ways, but I’m particularly interested in her as a woman of color artist with (sometimes unpopular) opinions that she’s not afraid to express. After releasing a few singles off of it earlier in the year, her new record is out – Matangi, check it out! In her interview promoting the album on NPR she hit on a lot of interesting things about her life and her path as an artist, but I was most interested in the comparison she made to herself and the boy from the KONY 2012 video, calling out the white savior industrial complex:

One is a story where an American person goes to Uganda and picks out the story, puts it into context and then uploads it to YouTube, and then a lot of Americans can understand it. And me, I can be in the same category as Jacob, but I did the journey myself — nobody had to come to my village and save me and articulate my story. I’d learned the language myself, I built the platform myself, got to a microphone myself, got nominated for a Grammy and an Oscar the same month, to make the biggest platform possible in America. Then I told the story — and it didn’t translate. A lot of people were like, “Just make music; don’t talk about politics.” But I was in a very difficult position: I was the only Tamil rapper [on the international stage], so when a whole bunch of Tamil people were dying, I had to tell you about it.

The whole interview is worth a read (or listen!). Check it out.

 

1bfea3e7449eff65a94e2e55a8b7acda-bpfullVeronica Bayetti Flores is an immigrant queer writer, domestic artist, and music video enthusiast.

New York, NY

Verónica Bayetti Flores has spent the last years of her life living and breathing reproductive justice. She has led national policy and movement building work on the intersections of immigrants' rights, health care access, young parenthood, and LGBTQ liberation, and has worked to increase access to contraception and abortion, fought for paid sick leave, and demanded access to safe public space for queer youth of color. In 2008 Verónica obtained her Master’s degree in the Sexuality and Health program at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She loves cooking, making art, listening to music, and thinking about the ways art forms traditionally seen as feminine are valued and devalued. In addition to writing for Feministing, she is currently spending most of her time doing policy work to reduce the harms of LGBTQ youth of color's interactions with the police and making sure abortion care is accessible to all regardless of their income.

Verónica is a queer immigrant writer, activist, and rabble-rouser.

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