Over the winter break I had way too much time on my hands, that was mostly because I had just had ALL my wisdom teeth taken out. So, there wasn’t much for me to do but to lay in bed and watch television, preferably messy reality TV. One of my favorite things. VH1 was premiering a new city in their infamous franchise, “Love and Hip-Hop” and that new city was Miami. I remember reading on all the gossip sites whether this show was even going to happen but alas it did. I was so excited. I knew some of the people on the show, who are widely respected not only in Miami but in the Hip Hop industry as well. One of the breakout stars was Amara La Negra, who is an up and coming Latina (who is Dominican) singer from Miami. The basis of her storyline on the show is following her journey to making a name for herself on the American music scene.
One of the biggest battles Amara must endure every day is defending her Latina heritage. She is a dark-skinned Dominican Black Woman, she receives a lot of backlash from Latinos (Black and nonblack) and other black people (from different diasporas) telling her she isn’t Latina because she is black. Now, what I will not do is give a history lesson because Google is free twenty-four seven, BUT it is important to know that African slaves were not just in north America. FUN FACT: there were more slaves in Latin America and the Caribbean than the United States. Hence is why there is a HUGE population of Black people in Latin America and Spanish speaking countries in the Caribbean. I know it may sound crazy to some, but you can be BLACK and LATINO. Isn’t that something?
(Amara La Negra with her mother, Ana meeting producer Young Hollywood for the first time)
There was a scene in the premiere of the show, where Amara met with a producer named Young Hollywood, while they were discussing creative ideas to work together he decides to tell Amara that she should let go of her Afro. Strike 1. He said she would look more appealing as a “Beyonce rather than Macy Gray” Strike two. Obviously becoming more and more frustrated, Amara explains that she is Latina, but she also embraces her blackness and she wants to show the world that Latina women come in all different kinds of shades. And to acknowledge that Black Latinos do exist. Amara La Negra is important to reality television because yes there are not many Afro- Latinos in the media whether it be American media or Latino Media there are barely any Dark Skinned represented in media at all.
(Juju who is another Dark Skinned Latina woman of Cuban descent from the Love and Hip Hop New York franchise)
I think the last time a Dark-Skinned Afro- Latina who was widely publicized was none other than the Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz. Now I’m not saying there aren’t any successful widely known Afro- Latinos in the media now because we have Cardi B, LaLa Anthony, Gina Torres, Laz Alonso, Christina Milian, Dascha Polanco, Selenis Levya and trust me I can go on for days. But one of the key important things to note in the names that I mentioned is that they are all a lighter skin tone than Amara. Now again, this is a different article for a different day, but Colorism and Anti Blackness in Black communities still exist to this day and it is heavily prevalent in the Latino Community. That is why it is so important to have Amara or someone like Juju(who is on the New York franchise who is of Cuban descent) on our television screens because there is a dark skinned black girl of Latina descent wanting to see herself in the media. It is important for that girl to know that she doesn’t have to commit to the euro- centric norms that are forced upon her to feel “beautiful”. Her blackness and her Latino heritage is what makes her beautiful and no one can take that away from her.