M.I.A. has been "uniting people since 2003," as the tagline for the singer's new album, AIM, reads. The London-based singer reminded her listeners of that fact Thursday, when she shared a new release date for album — previously slated to drop in July — now coming September 9. She also announced the album's first single "Go Off," which drops Friday, and shared a powerful ode to refugees, which can be viewed on her website.
"Survivors crossed countless continents, countries and borders, leaving behind their homes, lives and dead: only to be rendered invisible, silent and forgotten in exile; only to be told that their bodies might have travelled but their stories have not," the note, penned by Sinthujan Varatharajah reads.
"Their narratives are construed as exchangeable, mutable and nuisance while their bodies are considered collateral damage," the note continues. "Survivors are treated as a surplus people whose very presence destabilizes the status quo, whose voices unsettle the known."
It's the latest in a long line of artistic statements M.I.A. has offered to prove to her listeners that refugee lives matter. Last November, the singer shared a video for the song "Borders," translating the uncertainty and urgency behind the refugee crisis into striking choreographed sequences filled with barbed wire and body piles. Her insistence that refugee lives matter nearly got her removed from her headlining slot at Afro Punk's new London festival.
"I've been told to stay in my lane," she tweeted in June, likely responding to backlash she received about a comment seeming to disparage the Black Lives Matter movement. "Ha, there is no lane for 65 million refugees who's lanes are blown up!"
The same themes appear in the "Go Off" lyrics M.I.A. shared on Wednesday.
Read M.I.A. and Varatharajah's full statement below.
Survivors of war, conflict and genocide live on as IDPs and refugees, dispersed across their homelands and the globe. They embody the violence that has displaced them into the unknown, into uncertainty and into camps and council estates. Survivors crossed countless continents, countries and borders, leaving behind their homes, lives and dead only to be rendered invisible, silent and forgotten in exile; only to be told that their bodies might have travelled but their stories have not. Their narratives are construed as exchangeable, mutable and nuisance while their bodies are considered collateral damage. Survivors are treated as a surplus people whose very presence destabilizes the status quo, whose voices unsettle the known.
As border-crossers, modern day nomads, governments worldwide have tried to clamp down on their movements by criminalizing them and locking them up into camps and into poverty. The demobilization of survivors led to the creation of new states for the stateless, separate and legally distinct from the territory they sought asylum in. They are placed on the periphery of power, between ambiguity, invisibility and nostalgia. Places where survival is the prime strategy of coping, where trauma continues to set the pathway for tomorrow, where breathing is a luxury you look for elsewhere. BORDERLANDS. Borderlands are places doomed as hopeless, lifeless and futureless, where joy can never be traced, where dreams cannot be woven, where the everyday is thought to be absent. They are imagined to be places of nightmares held captive by the traumata of the displaced, kept under a never ending state of emergency. It is a country larger than England, yet isolated from its surrounding. Born in the present tense only to be trapped in the past tense. Borderlands house people from all walks of life who are cramped into undignified shelters surrounded by barbed wires. In the absence of privacy and basic rights, its inhabitants are forced to constantly renegotiate boundaries and create new laws. It's a place where new global orders are created, where new encounters occur, where new cultures are formed, where new people are born: REFUGEES.