I have been good the past year with watching ratchet T.V. I haven’t watched much if anything at all. However, when I heard Love and Hip Hop was going to be in Miami I decided to check out the cast. The only person who really caught my attention, besides Trina, was Amara La Negra. Amara is a beautiful Dominican artist. She is Afro-Latina and is very vocal in being proud of who she is and where she is from.She makes it a point to emphasize her dark skin and her natural hair. She out here doing it 100% for the dark-skinned Latina women. It was her pride and her flare that made me decide to watch to see her, and her progress crossing over into American mainstream.
We are only on episode one and the disrespect towards her is already starting. She goes to meet with a producer who she is hoping to work with and while their first meeting was awkward; their second meeting is where the racism shows up in full force.
This fool “Young Hollywood” (his claims not mine) says that to work with an artist he has to have full control and that includes their image. “I need you to look a certain way” he says to her, “A little more Beyoncé and a little less Macy Gray”. WHAT SIR? EXCUSE ME? I actually played the scene back just to make sure I heard this man correctly. Amara, being s polite as she can then asks him, “I can’t be elegant if I have an afro?” and he stupidly replies “Yea I guess so”. If we weren’t already deep in a hole it gets even worse. The scene proceeds with Amara saying she is Afro-Latina and he asks, “So are you African or is it because you have an Afro”. I promise you I almost punched my screen; and Amara (God bless her) looked like she was ready to fight as well.
These ignorant, ridiculous, racist comments are all too familiar to those of us who are Afro-Latinx as well. None of us were surprised that a light-skinned Latinx man would ask/say these ignorant comments to Amara. It happens to us all the time: in family gatherings, beauty salons, schools, etc.
As the scene nears its end Young Hollywood tries to back track and make light of the situation. He tells Amara “She is really intense about this African thing” he then calls her a “Nutella Queen” as he tried to apologize. Typical. Many Afro-Latinx people know how this goes. Someone tells you something slick like you have “pelo malo” and when you call them out on it they tell you “It’s no big deal” and “Why are you being so sensitive”. Save it, we know what you’re doing. The internalized anti-black racism in our community isn’t new and it isn’t over. Subtle and overt anti-blackness exists all over the Latin American world.
A great way to see this play out from different Latinx communities, is to watch this video from Pero Like. Multiple Afro-Latinx people share their experiences with racism in their own individual communities.
Like Amra says in the ending of this scene; not all Latinx women look like J-Lo. We all don’t look like Sophia Vegara or even Salma Hayak. Some of us look like Amara, or Lala Anthony, or Gina Torres. We come in all colors and shade and sizes. It’s time we stopped trying to make us all into one cookie cutter image. My heart broke for Amara as I watched this foolishness play out. I know on the one hand this conversation was probably highly scripted, but part of me knows it probably wasn’t too scripted. This is something I and many others have had happen first hand. I know these are comments Amara has probably heard many times before with her coloring and her hair type. Even if they were scripted they probably still hurt to hear those words brought back up.
Unfortunately if Amara is to ever succeed in this music industry she will suffer these words and more, like every other dark skinned female artist before her. I think often on an interview that Lil Kim did back in 2000. She said, “All my life men have told me I wasn’t pretty enough – even the men I was dating…To this day when someone says I’m cute, I can’t see it. I don’t see it no matter what anybody says.” In the same interview she continues by saying that every man she dated cheated on her with “European-looking” women. She sates, “Being a regular black girl wasn’t good enough.”
I will continue watching this season of the show just so I can see Amara step on her competition, and bring light and inspiration to all the girls who look like her. I am praying that it will open the eyes of so many who continue to perpetuate anti-black racism and colorism in our communities. Maybe this will help people who wouldn’t normally have these conversations, begin to talk about this. And hopefully it will bring some change to someone who needs it. In the mean time, I’m hoping that Amara will not only stomp her competition and the haters; but also share some of her natural hair care tips with us; because her hair is EVERYTHING.