Blackity Black: The Amara La Negra Controversy

Amara La Negra, Miami born and raised, seeks to take the mainstream music scene by storm and to be honest, her charisma, stage presence, brains, and beauty are just too hard to ignore. On the flip side, if you are unfamiliar with her music, you may recognize the Dominican entertainer from the reality show “Love and Hip Hop Miami.” Amara, newly signed to Fast Life Entertainment Worldwide and BMG, has joined the show in efforts to, not only dominate the entertainment industry but also to act as a catalyst of racial discourse and to display a more diverse (and often neglected) representation of Latinas. Music producer Young Hollywood, as he likes to call himself, severely disses her pro-black aesthetic by saying that her afro is not "elegant" and by questioning her blackness. He questions whether she considers herself to be Afro-Latina simply because she has an afro or because she is African. He goes on to assert that when trying to achieve a certain look, perhaps for a photo shoot, music video or other public appearance, he prefers less Macy Gray and more Beyoncé. Hollywood has continued to make ignorant comments, referring to Amara as a "Nutella Queen," and has refused to apologize for it.

Firstly, to assume that Amara is simply rocking her fro as a gimmick is an ignorant assumption, which is to also deny the validity and the message that she is trying to convey. Bottom line is, once you diss the fro, we've got problems. Needless to say, his ignorance spans much further than the States and Latin America, antiblack is prevalent worldwide. Anti-black is not just blatant in its manifestation, it is also subtle and sometimes subliminal: from skin-whitening creams and scarcely available makeup brands that make products to accommodate darker skin tones, to purposeful underrepresentation in film and television. The comparison of Beyoncé and Macy Gray reinforces eurocentric beauty standards that praise and favor straighter, blonder, longer hair. These statements reinforce the ideology that to be marketable, to be successful and to obtain authority is synonymous with possessing certain attributes a.k.a certain levels of whiteness. Contrary to popular belief, one-size does NOT fit all, and any claims of such aim to plot women against each other by using beauty standards to perpetuate respectability politics. If you do not conform, you are wrong, and you will not be accepted.

 

The next public display of ignorance toward Amara La Negra's identity appears on the talk show the Breakfast Club in which co-host Charlamagne tha God abruptly begins the interview by asking Amara: "What are you?" The show quickly begins with La Negra giving a detailed explanation of her family's genetic makeup and race relations within the Latino community, followed by addressing her black-face and melanin shot accusations. Charlamagne persists as the devil’s advocate as he asks Amara if she believes that this discrimination or perceived inequality is “all in her head.” This comment only adds fuel to the fire, proving that there is a serious level of avoidance of addressing issues as they are and an invalidation of the experiences of those who claim mistreatment. Next, Charlamagne attempts to draw a comparison between the success of Cardi B and La Negra’s career on the basis of a shared ethnic identity. He claims that because Cardi B is also a female entertainer, Dominican and ethnically considered black, the two female stars are standing on a level playing field. This assertion, however not only fails to address issues of colorism but also quite blatantly deems it as irrelevant and quasi-imaginary. The interview addresses colorism issues in the entertainment industry as well as the Latin community.

It is so unsettling and tiring that in the year 2018 black women are still required to explain their existence to people who not only just don’t get it, but simply don’t want to

get it. As a global phenomenon, black women, regardless of their location and the language that they speak, are bombarded daily with messages that suggest that their natural characteristics should be improved or altered because they simply do not measure up. The disapproval of anything dark is no new trend, but in this digital age, these messages are more easily recycled, regurgitated and transmitted. As you can see, Amara seeks to create awareness of these disparities in the representation of darker skin and give voice to other parts of the world (outside the United States) that experience this type of discrimination. All in all, La Negra’s efforts to challenge the typical depiction of typical Latinas in spaces that cast Shakira, JLo and Sofia Vergara as the prototype.

 

 

 

Photos by Essence, Estrella Fashion Report, VH1 News