M.I.A. talks faith in Jesus, the problem with Black Lives Matter, being a victim of 'cancel culture'

Rapper M.I.A. speaks with conservative commentator Candace Owens during an interview that aired in February 2023.
Rapper M.I.A. speaks with conservative commentator Candace Owens during an interview that aired in February 2023. | Screenshot: Daily Wire

Rapper M.I.A. recently shared more details about her widely reported conversion to Christianity, saying she found Christ while on a trip to the Caribbean after being "canceled" for her critiques of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam, most known by her rapper name M.I.A. and for the hit 2008 song "Paper Planes," joined conservative commentator Candace Owens on her Daily Wire show "Taboo" for an interview released last week.

Even before George Floyd's death in 2020 sparked nationwide protests that enabled the continued mainstream growth of the BLM movement, M.I.A has not shied away from criticizing the movement for not highlighting the plight of people groups persecuted in other countries. The 47-year-old has been known for making comments that spark controversy in an effort to advocate for peace and stability in her native Sri Lanka. 

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"You cannot define things by race," the rapper told Owens. "If one people are oppressed in one place and another people is oppressed in another place, it's still oppression. … And if you identify the oppressor, which is what the whole BLM thing is, ... we're discussing oppression, and there are valuable conversations to be had."

Although she was born in London, her family moved back to their native Sri Lanka when she was baby as her father fought against Tamil oppression. When she was 10, her family fled to London as refugees. 

M.I.A. shared her concern for the Tamil people of Sri Lanka, who have been undergoing oppression for decades. She stated that in 2009, toward the end of the Sri Lanka Civil War, the Sri Lankan government evacuated all foreign media, foreign politicians and mediators and bombed the head office of the BBC in the South Asian country. 

She said 400,000 Tamil people were forced onto a strip of beach over a mile long, where tends of thousands were killed in a "no fire zone." M.I.A. appears to have been citing information from the film "No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka." The Sri Lankan government has denied responsibility for the killing of up to 70,000 citizens toward the end of the civil war. 

"From 2009 to today, which is [2023], we've had to grovel at the [United Nations] as a victim. … They're torturing us in the prisons, they're raping these people, and we're still in refugee camps. You know, it's been 13 years. … Nothing has been done. No one has been tried, convicted [or] held accountable," M.I.A. said.   

Even with her advocacy for the citizens of her native country, she says the media and society have labeled her as "anti-black" and "racist" for criticizing BLM for excluding other oppressed people groups in their coalition.

"I was called anti-back. And that was really another weird thing because my work from day one has been to include the other voices outside of America, and that could be anywhere," she said. "It could be Africa. It could be in Asia, where there's 30 million slaves today."

She claims that other brown Asian people were employed  to "gaslight" as Indian girls wrote "all these hit pieces" saying she was "anti-black." 

"[E]verybody pushes a falling fence as the saying goes," she said. "[A]nd they're all like, Oh, am I is this terrible person, and even though she's my kind, I'm happy to denounce her, because I support BLM, you know, and she's terrible."

M.I.A. contends "cancel culture" made her out "to be this racist person."

"I was like, 'who's at the bottom of that?' There are so many different people this could be. That made me look into it even more. … I was like, 'well, you have this elite class [of] black elites. And then you have poor black people in America, who are controlled by the same mass media narrative as everybody else — white people and the Hispanics — you know, they're all in it together." 

"Right now, it's confusing because the Vice President [Kamala Harris] is Tamil. … She's Tamil and black. So that's another thing. … We're not allowed to talk to each other because I'm Tamil and you're black. And you have to be in your experience and your narratives and I have to be in my experience, in my narrative. But we cannot have conversations."

Rapper M.I.A. speaks with conservative commentator Candace Owens during an interview that aired in February 2023.
Rapper M.I.A. speaks with conservative commentator Candace Owens during an interview that aired in February 2023. | Screenshot: Daily Wire

She said her faith has played a massive role in her life ever since she had an encounter in 2016 where she saw what appeared to be the image of Jesus during a vision while on a trip to the Caribbean.

The rapper said that while making the video for her 2016 song "Borders," which has shots of her walking on water, she found a shirt that read "Jesus sad" instead of "Jesus said." 

"And just straight off to that video, and then the whole BLM thing happened, and I got canceled, then I went to the Caribbean that Christmas," she explained. "And I had this vision, and then it just like turned my creative world upside down for about five years."

The rapper said she was staying in a place that had limited Wi-Fi. But, to her surprise, she received a text that said: "you're going to die." 

"It was like a threat. And then suddenly, I started feeling very ill. And I believed it. …  And then, I just thought, 'that's fine.'… 'I've lived the life that I wanted and understood things.' And I was kind of happy with what I'd done. And so, I just surrendered and I was like, 'OK, that's fine.' And if that was my time, 'that's fine,'" M.I.A. recounted. 

"And just when I thought that … I had a vision of Jesus Christ. First of all, when I say that, my vision of Jesus wasn't wimpy looking. … He didn't look like He was starving and had been hung on a cross for days. He looked really strong. And it was the strongest thing I've ever seen," she continued. 

"And I [once thought], 'wow, I do not believe in Jesus or Christianity. And I don't believe that this person is going to save anyone. This person is a concept. …  This figure is not going to save humanity.' You want God to be like this insane concept or angel illustration, which no one can even perceive how to illustrate. You cannot draw a man and say, 'that's God. He's going to bring salvation.' But then, when I saw the vision, I was like, 'I totally believe it.'"

M.I.A. said that although she always liked philosophies behind some religions like Hinduism, she never thought she would ever be into Christianity because "it's way more simplified as a concept and doesn't make you think that your mind and your body and breath and all of the things can work together to achieve something."

"It's kind of like, shocking, but [Jesus is] who I saw, you know, and it's very stereotypical, like a man in a white robe," she said. "I wasn't ready to embrace this concept during the time of the BLM discussion."

"What it taught me is that don't blanket hate for white people and blanket hate for Americans and don't blanket hate," she continued. 

In December, M.I.A. responded to critics of her newfound faith. 

"The fact that the biggest backlash in my career and life I'm facing after saying 'Jesus is real' is such a revelation to me," she tweeted. "People who control these apps rather me be a bad girl, then a good one." 

Nicole Alcindor is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at:

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