M.I.A.: Role Model & Changemaker

M.I.A.: Role Model & Changemaker

Maleeha Chandra Lemay Iftekhar Ravelli

7/8 Writer’s Workshop F

Mathangi Arulpragasam is most commonly known by her stage name, M.I.A., but what you don’t know is the story behind the name. Many people in the world would assume that this stands for being “missing in action.” It actuality represents her cousin. She grew up with him and went to school him, then he went missing in Sri Lanka. M.I.A. stands up for him and everyone else who has been affected by a similar circumstance. M.I.A. has brought change through her beautiful art and her music that inspires people who have also been held down by the government.

Mathangi Arulpragasam was born on July 18, 1975, in London. Her parents, Arul and Kala Pragasam, are both of Sri Lankan descent. When she was six months old her parents decided to move their family from London to Sri Lanka. There, her father was a leader of a Tamil independence group, called the Tamil Tigers. The government of Sri Lankan did not accept Tamil Tigers. In order to escape the Sri Lankan government, M.I.A. moved around a lot as a child. M.I.A.’s family decided to move to India, and then finally back to London when she was eleven.

M.I.A. has faced many struggles throughout her life, and even as a successful artist, many people still try to hold her down. In 2006 M.I.A. wasn’t allowed into the U.S. The government decided to not let her in because of the controversial lyrics in her song “Messages.” In her song she implies that your phone and internet are connected to the government. Another reason she wasn’t able to get in was that her father was part of the group Eelam Revolutionary Organization of Students, and this group was suspected to be a terrorist group by the U.S government. M.I.A. still stands up for what she believes in and is making music to inspire those who have been held down.

Many of M.I.A.’s songs support people who have been held down, most of these many songs have been taken down by Youtube, Spotify, and other music sources. In 2010 M.I.A. had Edward Snowden speak for ten minutes at the beginning of one of her concerts to show her solidarity with him. In one of her songs, “Borders,” she sings, “Borders, What’s up with that?” she uses the same line again with other issues such as, politics, police shots and your identities.  To me these lyrics are talking about the how all these different things have so many subsections, it’s hard to stay up to date.

M.I.A. not only has come out with successful music, she also loves and supports her family. During the 2009 Grammys, M.I.A. was due to have her son on the day of the Grammys. However that day she still performed and had her son 2 days later. Her husband, Benjamin Bronfman, is an environmentalist and musician. Her parents have inspired much of her music. She named her album, Arular, the name her father took during his Tamil Tigers. Her mother, inspired the album Kala, as it is her first name.

   M.I.A. inspires others to stay strong through hard times with her music. M.I.A. has been through rough patches, but keeps persevering and stays focused on her career. She has been there for her family and others who have stood up for what they believe in. M.I.A. is a change maker because she stands up for those who can’t, she supports those who need to be supported, and creates beautiful music for all.

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“M.I.A. Biography.” The Biography.com Website. A&E Television Networks. 16 January 2018. <https://www.biography.com/people/mia-21183615>

“M.I.A.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 2018. 16 January 2018. <https://www.britannica.com/biography/MIA>

Jeff Benjamin. “12 Things You Didn’t Know About M.I.A.” Fuse TV. 9 September 2016. Fuse TV. 29 January 2018 <https://www.fuse.tv/2016/09/mia-bio-facts-you-didnt-know#12>

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Emily Barker. “15 Thought Provoking M.I.A. Moments” NME. 25 March 2015. NME. 14 February 2018. <http://www.nme.com/photos/15-thought-provoking-m-i-a-moments-1431781>

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