On M.I.A. (2018) Momtaza Mehri. A celebration of the artist life and career (with some critical readings of M.I.A’s genre-flirting). Prompted me to listen to her again. I don’t agree with the sellout bits. It’s always a decision artists make and have to live with (you can be a sellout and a good artist too). Interesting text for learning about “Political blackness” in the UK context.
Authenticity is an unstable pedestal rooted in meticulously cultivated performance. It is externally adjudicated. No one understands this more than a slippery art school ingénue like M.I.A. Selling out means something entirely different when you come from no money. There are people who depend on you.
The class solidarities that once united communities facing street violence and economic disenfranchisement were bastardized by race professionals into the politics of lobbying and local government, a process abetted by New Left radicals in the name of political blackness. Tariq Modood tracked this phenomenon’s journey from factory floor to think tank, decrying a ‘false essentialism’ that assumes ‘all non-white groups have something in common other than how others treat them’.
Coalitions rooted in the denial of difference are bound to uncritically reproduce the very hierarchies they aim to dismantle, stifling criticism in the name of unity. Those excluded from hegemonic universalism should be the last to adopt reductive universals of their own. Too often, such gestural solidarities depend on the silencing and disciplining of dissenting black voices. ‘Despite our desperate, eternal attempt to separate, contain, and mend, categories always leak’ Trinh Minh-ha writes in Woman, Native, Other.
Learning that the Swedes (who Finns partially were) took skeletons of stone age Finns to collections in Stockholm.