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The Rapper of Refugees- The Atlantic

check out this article from The Atlantic about the new single by MIA. i love that she’s asking the questions and i love that The Atlantic is encouraging her voice…

The Rapper of Refugees

What’s M.I.A.’s “Borders” video really about?

NOV 30, 2015
Maya Arulpragasam is a famous rapper, singer, designer, producer, and refugee. When she was 9, her mother and siblings fled violence in Sri Lanka and came to London, and the experience was formative for her art. As she explained to The Guardian in 2005 after the release of her debut Arular, “I was a refugee because of war and now I have a voice in a time when war is the most invested thing on the planet. What I thought I should do with this record is make every refugee kid that came over after me have something to feel good about. Take everybody’s bad bits and say, ‘Actually, they’re good bits. Now whatcha gonna do?’”

That goal—to glorify people and practices that the developed world marginalizes—has been a constant in her career. Her new music video tackles it in a particularly literal and urgent way, not only by showing solidarity with refugees at a moment when they’re extremely controversial in the West, but also by posing a simple question to listeners: Whose lives do you value?

The video for “Borders,” a song off her forthcoming album Matahdatah, features images recalling all sorts of migrations from the developing world—there are people crossing deserts, fences, and bodies of water. Though much of M.I.A.’s work has been about women and children, this video is filled with brown men: the ultimate bogeyman for many in the West, stereotyped as terrorists, criminals, and job-takers.


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