The Love & Hip Hop franchise has a new Afro-Latina on its roster: Amara La Negra. And the buxom, gray-eyed, Afro-rocking, melanin-poppin’ recording artist is making major waves online, mostly because of the criticism surrounding her dark skin and kinky hair.
Before you check your calendar, yes, I can confirm that it is indeed 2018 and we’re still talking about skin tones and hair textures not fitting into society’s limited beauty standards.
Amara recently appeared on The Breakfast Club, and the first question one of the show’s hosts, Charlamagne tha God, asked her was, “What are you? Racewise?” I should have known from there that the interview would take an ignorant turn.
Once she said that she was Dominican and called herself an Afro-Latina, The Breakfast Club co-host DJ Envy chimed in with, “What is Afro-Latina? I thought it was half-black and something else, half-Latina.” I couldn’t handle DJ Envy’s views of Amara’s background when he said that he thought Dominicans didn’t really mess with blacks or Puerto Ricans.
“They didn’t want to be black and they didn’t want to be Puerto Rican,” DJ Envy so eloquently deduced. This guy. I’m not even going to dig into that; I just wanted you to know that’s something this man said ... out loud.
To which Charlamagne offered Amara, “You can say you’re a Latina with an Afro.”
Well, gee, can I?!
Amara appeared poised throughout the entire interview, during which she spoke about her (and society’s) issues with colorism, some producer named Young Hollywood and why representation matters. Young Hollywood is a Love & Hip Hop: Miami castmate whose biggest claim to fame, as it stands, is his ignorant critique of Amara’s image.
On the show, Young Hollywood has urged Amara to consider making her look more Beyoncé and less Macy Gray. We all know how much representation matters, and even though Love & Hip Hop: Miami may not be the most savory form of representation, you can’t deny how smart the show’s creator and producer, Mona Scott-Young, is for opening up this problematic dialogue to the show’s demographic.
Colorism is a hot-button topic that many of us debate, but allowing this subject to take root in a (dare I say it) shallow pond of viewers who are mostly watching to see who splashes what in whose face is golden.
I find it interesting that Amara is becoming the face of the colorism debate in the Latinx community, but I find it appalling that someone like Charlamagne tha God would ask her, “You sure it’s not in your mind?”
Is. He. Serious?
I respect Charlamagne, despite his problematic nature. The last time we spoke was in The Root’s offices, where I asked him about his opinion about black women. The conversation was enlightening, to say the least, and it made me a believer in Charlamagne’s mission of keeping black excellence on full display. But his thoughts on Amara’s plight as a dark-skinned Dominican woman gave me pause.
He said, “I’ve never heard this conversation until just now.” And when he went on to ask, “What is the struggle that you’re facing?” I almost couldn’t believe that this man who’s had issues with the pigmentation of his own skin would ask this Afro-Latina woman what struggle she’s facing, as if he has no idea what colorism is and how it affects people.
To add insult to, well, insult, Charlamagne brought up Cardi B and her success as a measure of how far we’ve come in accepting people who aren’t cookie-cutter. Sure, but using Cardi B as an example in this conversation about colorism isn’t valid because Cardi B isn’t a dark-skinned Afro-Latina.
Most of the interview was ignorant and irresponsible. It was a missed opportunity to continue a dialogue around representation and colorism in the entertainment industry on the mega platform that is The Breakfast Club. Kudos to Amara La Negra, however, for her attempt to keep the conversation going and for representing for the little dark-skinned girls who may think they’re not beautiful. Keep shining, Queen.
Check out the full interview here: