Watch: M.I.A talks racism, her refugee heritage and her shelved documentary
For those spending their lunchbreak scrolling Buzzfeed quizzes, may we suggest instead watching this talk with Mathangi 'Maya' Arulpragasam, also known as M.I.A, as she discusses racism, her own experience as a young refugee and hustling as a young artist from a low income family.
In the talk, held by the Oxford Union Society, a blunt and honest Arulpragasam gets straight to-the-point, revealing how her personal experiences and family heritage have helped her creative process and artistic motivation. "Being a refugee was something that, when I started singing, I was really proud of," she says early in the talk. "Now, being a refugee is forever changing. We're still a blob in the world that's kind of faceless." She does offer some kind of positivity that at least now there is more conversation around refugees than there has been in the past.
Of course, this kind of talk inevitably leads to Donald Trump, of which the singer offered, "No matter how smart we are and how much technology we have and all the capabilities, we don't know who is making the most money out of the war industry."
Arulpragasam also mentions her infamous documentary, which, after a dispute with director Steve Loveride (who said he'd "rather die" than continue working on it), still remains incomplete (and may remain for a number years to come). "My documentary, was supposed to be like a guide to how you can make it with no money," she says, with a twinge of sadness. "That was the brief and I handed it over to my best friend. It was my life - I'd filmed myself since I was 15/16 and I felt like that was the biggest gift I could give him.... That was the thing. I was like, you have to make something that makes people want to watch it and it tells people how you can do it." She continues, "I think that's why there is so much resistance to this documentary getting completed, because it was exactly that - it is how you can do it with £100."
Touching on her Tamil family, heritage and history, she says she learned to form her own mind. "When I was young I just found out that you actually can't really listen to anybody because it changes - the rules I was raised under kept changing so much in my childhood, I decided that that's not the rock. You can't pin yourself to the identity you're forced to create within a certain social environment that's based on a geographical piece of land, or a country, and then gender on top of that."
Watch the inspiring talk below:
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Buro 24/7 Selection