I’m not a watcher of any of the Love and Hip Hop franchise, but I had to take a moment out of my day to write about the controversy that flared up during the first episode of Love and Hip Hop Miami. In this clip, Dominican singer Amara La Negra face intense colorism and racism from producer Young Hollywood.
This conversation made me so mad. It's sad that people actually think like this. pic.twitter.com/bWofupXgdc
— I Luh God ✨ (@aVeryRichBish) January 2, 2018
Okay. Some points:
1. WHO is Young Hollywood? Not to play that “I don’t know her” game, but I don’t know who this is, and I know a lot about pop culture. I feel like if Young Hollywood were really important in the music industry, I’d certainly know more about him than his tragic presentation of himself on Love and Hip Hop Miami. Basically, what I’m saying is that Young Hollywood doesn’t seem as popular as he wants everyone to believe.
2. How disrespectful and racist can he be? It’s as if he went out of his way to be disrespectful. First, it’s the overt colorism and anti-blackness he embodies with comments about not being glamorous with an afro, mocking the Black Power fist, and calling Amara “Afro-Latina Queen” and “Nutella Queen,” not to mention questioning the validity of the Afro-Latina identity.
3. “NUTELLA QUEEN”??? Amara played this exchange much cooler than I think I would have. I’m actually not sure what I would have done, but it would definitely be something people wouldn’t expect from someone as quiet-natured as me.
4. Young Hollywood needs to check himself, because he’s a prime example of anti-blackness in the Latinx community. If you needed an example of one of the biggest issues facing Afro-Latinx, look no further than Young Hollywood’s interaction with Amara.
Last year, I interviewed several Latinx content creators for my longform piece on what it’s like being Latinx in Hollywood. All of them sounded off on the colorism and anti-blackness that affects Latinx who don’t look like, as Young Hollywood hinted at in his own words to Amara, the stereotypical “Latinx” person.
“…[T]here’s obvious merit in bringing in new talent because that director could be the next person who discovers the next [big] actor. I think that’s…something that’s very important,” said Kimberly Hoyos, filmmaker and creator of The Light Leaks, a website designed to support, educate and empower female and gender non-conforming filmmakers. “Even in my Latino community, there’s a weird emphasis on how dark you are or how light you are or where you’re from. I really feel like that’s an issue that translates to the screen as well. Even though it’s women of color, it’s much more valuable in media to be light skinned than dark skinned.”
“I understand my privilege as a light-skinned afro-Boricua woman. I have to– otherwise I contribute to the continued problems of colorism in both the Latinx community and within a larger worldwide context,” wrote Desiree Rodriguez, Editorial Assistant for Lion Forge sci-fi comic book Catalyst Prime and writer for Women on Comics and The Nerds of Color, in an email interview.”By favoring women who look like me, you erase the multitude of men, women, and non-binary Latinx individuals who don’t look like me. It’s important that media reflects the actual reality of the Latinx community, which includes a wide range of races, and even religious identities.”
“By ignoring those parts of our community, media creates a distorted image of our culture, which allows the continued whitewashing of our community, ignorance regarding our identities, and contributes to a lack of empathy of our struggles,” she wrote. “It also, I personally feel, encourages some individuals within the Latinx community to reject their indigenous or black ancestry in favor of whiteness. This can, and has, further contributed to the alienation of Afro and Indigenous Latinxs within our community.”
“Gina Torres is a proud Afro-Cuban American woman who, as far as I know, never gotten a chance to play a Latina woman on screen. She’s even gone on record stating how Hollywood wants their Latinas to look Italian,” she wrote. “If the producers of Supergirl wanted a Latina woman to play Maggie Sawyer, why not cast one? How many people know Meagan Good is part Puerto Rican? Or that Harry Shum Jr. identifies as Latino? Or that Alexis Bledel is Latina? Meagan good is Afro-Latina, Harry Shum Jr. is Asian-Latino, Alexis Bledel is a white Latina. But we don’t see this type of diversity reflected back on screen. It’s very one-sided, one-note, and done in a specific way that spreads ignorance and misinformation on the Latinx community. It is complicated, but we’re a community worth learning about, respecting, and feeling empathy for.”
“[Stereotyping is] very, very detrimental and limiting because when you think of Latin America, we’re talking about over 20 countries and yes, we’re talking about Spanish [as a language] there are other languages [as well]…so I will say that when it comes down to not just representation, but inclusion in Hollywood, a person has to be invested in learning about the culture because there’s so many different moving parts,” said Janel Martinez, founder and editor-in-chief of Ain’t I Latina, a site celebrating Afro-Latinas and Afro-Latinx culture. “You can be Latino, Latina, Latinx, but you can be black, you can be Asian, you can be white and Latino. There has to be a great understanding of the culture.”
As Francisco Herrera for Latino Rebels writes, to talk about anti-blackness and how it affects Latinx “isn’t to say that Latinos aren’t racialized and subjugated. Nor am I saying that anti-Blackness is a necessary, inevitable or inherent aspect of Latino identities.” What Herrera’s point is, he writes, “is that for a lot of us, especially non-Black Latinos, being subjugated in some ways has not precluded us from being complicit with anti-Black politics in the U.S. and throughout the Americas.”
“Destroying our complicity with anti-Black violence and making that violence impossible requires that we invest time in expanding our vocabulary about race, committing ourselves to being vulnerable with each other in service of antiracism, and holding each other accountable to practicing anti-racism every day. This everyday practice will look different for each of us but it must be guided by the fundamental idea that Black lives are fully human, deserving of our love, and that they matter. This last part is worth emphasizing again: we must all focus on turning our so-called love into daily actions that make the hate of anti-Black violence impossible.”
Amara is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen, and her pride for her heritage and race makes her a positive role model for other Afro-Latina girls out there. The fact that Young Hollywood would question her beauty and her pride for her heritage, and then call her “psychotic” because she’s checking him on his bullshit, smacks of misogyny and his own insecurities about his masculinity and his racial identity. If your racial identity hinges on belittling others’ racial identities, while you’re profiting off of the same racial identity you’re belittling, you’re a fool. You can’t talk down blackness and then still try to act and sound black. Also, Young Hollywood, you’re a minority like the rest of us black and brown people. Learn your history and where blackness fits into your personal ancestry, because I’m sure it does.
5. Is Young Hollywood going to be kept around on this show just for the views? I’ve had issues with Love and Hip Hop creator Mona Scott-Young for a while, but keeping this guy around just for the drama just might be a new low.
The clapback has been real, and deservedly so; I’ve never heard of Young Hollywood, but it’s clear from this clip that he’s a racist, misogynist jerk, and that’s me being too kind. Here’s what everyone else had to say in much more colorful language.
this is pretty much what dark-skinned Latinas like myself have dealt with for most of our lives. this is sad but true. thank you @AmaraLaNegraALN for being able to deal with this and remain strong. it means a lot to me as a fellow afrolatina. https://t.co/9LQ54kk6PH
— Carmen Mojica (@Nana_Negrita) January 2, 2018
— Ghetto Queen👑 (@_zolarmoon) January 2, 2018
— lah-juh (@fabuLaja) January 2, 2018
— Oloni (@Oloni) January 2, 2018
I know this tiny little man, @YOUNGHO11YWOOD , is not taking about elegance with a whole face tattoo and racist attitude. Greasy hair and all trying to tell sis her afro isn't elegant. pic.twitter.com/hcBdRvHFp8
— Chubby Gal 🌹✨ (@Vixnnixn) January 3, 2018
Last night we watched #LHHMIA and watched as @YOUNGHO11YWOOD spewed vile, disgusting racism at @AmaraLaNegraALN @VH1 and @MonaScottYoung you have a duty to FIRE and reprimand racism. I will be writing letters to yalls sponsors until this is handled.
— Chels (@BEautifully_C) January 2, 2018
• My blood is boiling.
• My blood is boiling, even more, looking at this dumb, colourist PHUCK, @YOUNGHO11YWOOD, on my phone screen.
• Why’re people like this still walking?#LHHMIApic.twitter.com/nTdhrYVn1d
— GODDESS OF WAKANDA 🐾 (@AzaMakeda) January 3, 2018
— pullupwitamonstahautomobilegangstawithabadbitchtha (@kimtheproduct) January 2, 2018
— Michelle (@Ebony_Sable25) January 3, 2018
Have your parents educate your dumbass on your heritage. Go stop by Loiza, PR. You uncultured swine. @YOUNGHO11YWOOD
— HeadMistress (@MichyPanda) January 3, 2018
— Distract and Conquer (@distractconquer) January 2, 2018
— Kaliyah Danielle🥂 (@yosoyklee) January 3, 2018
You're a disgrace to the Latino community. pic.twitter.com/m4XuyvNQg9
— Tonii 👑 (@toniirocha) January 3, 2018
hey guys! just wanted to let you know that @YOUNGHO11YWOOD is poisoning the latin@ community with colorism and shaming afrolatinas! xoxo
— rene can't breathe (@cxnsxrxd) January 2, 2018
We can demand that @YOUNGHO11YWOOD be removed from the show so you don’t have to fight ignorance while u r trying to make it!The industry is tough enough without being setup to get disrespected! I will be the first one to buy ur album! But I’m done with the show!
— KATHY (@kathydantzler) January 3, 2018
Naaaaa @YOUNGHO11YWOOD is anti black as shit. The way he is speaking about her blackness and hair tis stomach churning. The sarcasm etc etc. Then he calls her psychotic for addressing it? People need to stop working with people like this.
— Richie Brave 🇬🇾🇲🇲🇮🇳 (@RichieBrave) January 3, 2018
Honestly can’t believe @MonaScottYoung co signed this smh
— This Life Is Vicious (@UKKelendriaa) January 2, 2018
The fact that he tried to spin it at the end and paint her as the stereotypical 'angry black woman' was the cherry on top
— Onahlicious (@onahlicious) January 3, 2018
— #PPNerdSaga (@UncleTimi) January 2, 2018
You’re racist traaassshhh. You don’t even deserve to work with someone as beautiful & talented as Amara La Negra
— Tootie. (@TheyHateTootie) January 2, 2018
@MonaScottYoung you REALLY need to remove @YOUNGHO11YWOOD from #LHHMIAMI #LHHMia The way he treated #AmaraLeNegra was DISGUSTING! Anyone who worked with this clown should be embarrassed & ashamed! C’mon this is not acceptable at all! pic.twitter.com/UzMZoq6Ysw
— KATHY (@kathydantzler) January 3, 2018
— CloOlogy (@CloOlogy) January 2, 2018
Hey, you’re an uneducated, uncultured swine and a disgrace to the Latino community. We come in all different sizes and colors, not just light skin tones. Fucking dumbass.
— 😎 (@darthvanna) January 3, 2018
Damn your career is basically deleted after that clip goes viral lmao
— life continues and things get better (@shownusgiggle) January 3, 2018
This guy @YOUNGHO11YWOOD needs to get canceled in 2018. His ignorance is an embarrassment to the Latino community. Qué asco!
— Carlos Andrés Osorio (@LosOsorio) January 3, 2018
#BlackTwitter Let's start the drag on @YOUNGHO11YWOOD apparently he hates Black people and dark skin but he's on a show where 90% of the Audience is @JoinBBC @MonaScottYoung GET RID OF HIM #BOYCOTTLHHMIA @TRINArockstarr @305MAYOR @VH1 https://t.co/VRmgpjhcat
— IVYKPENDLETON (@ivykpendleton) January 2, 2018
White supremacy ain’t entertaining
— Bryan (@IV_Names) January 2, 2018
As for the aftermath of this whole awful moment, Amara has come out on top. Not only does she have Love and Hip Hop Miami fans in her corner, but she’s also just signed a multi-album record deal with BMG and Fast Life Entertainment. According to Billboard, her first single will be out during the first quarter of 2018. Hollywood, on the other hand, is still being a butt.
I’ll end this piece with Martinez giving the last word.
I'm so glad to see Amara's inclusion on LHHMIA is bringing folks up to speed on the colorism that exists within Latin America. Like most issues, this is extremely layered and there's alot that has to be unpacked, starting w/ intentional erasure, violence (cues yt Latinos).
— Janel Martinez (@janelmwrites) January 3, 2018
I'd like to see the current conversation morph into action(s). The representation conversations are extremely important but we must also discuss the issues that stem from erasure and lack of representation.
I'm brainstorming ways b/c this is the time to act on these convos.
— Janel Martinez (@janelmwrites) January 3, 2018
But at this current moment I'm just happy and proud to see an unapologetic Black woman of Latin American descent — Amara — on my TV screen weekly. 2018 is off to a blessed start.
— Janel Martinez (@janelmwrites) January 3, 2018
What do you think about this? Are you still going to support Love and Hip Hop Miami? Are you excited about Amara’s upcoming single? And do you think Young Hollywood can change, or is he too less-than-smart to realize he needs to change? Give your opinions in the comments section below!
There is not enough focus on the people who live at the intersections of cultures and ethnicities. The Afro-Latina identity is one such group that seems to go under the radar in the media, and for no good reason. In the media, the idea of the Latina is that of a light-skinned, European or mestizo looking woman. Even in popular magazines geared towards the Latinx community and Latinas in particular, the diverse range of Latinas aren’t routinely showcased, Afro-Latinas in particular. The stereotype of what a Latina should look like isn’t capturing the full scope of those who are, in fact, Latina. Enter the much-needed site, Ain’t I Latina? to work to correct that oversight.
Ain’t I Latina was created by Honduran-American multimedia journalist Janel Martinez, who sought to give Afro-Latinas the coverage they’ve been missing in the media. Her Twitter page gives a quick summary of what you can expect:
— Ain't I Latina? (@aintilatina) December 18, 2013
Her bio page gives a more in-depth explanation of her site.
Ain’t I Latina? is an online destination created by an Afro-Latina for Afro-Latinas. Inspired by the lack of representation in mainstream media, as well as Spanish-language media, Janel Martinez, a 20-something journalist and New York native, wanted to create a space where millennial Latinas can celebrate their diversity. In addition to offering celebrity news, career advice, lifestyle coverage and exclusive interviews with today’s hottest Latinas, Ain’t I Latina? offers you, the reader, an opportunity to share your story.
There is a lot to take in on Ain’t I Latina, including the site’s latest interview with Evelyn Lozada and daughter Shaniece Hairston, Afro-Latina musicians and authors to look out for, theatrical portrayals of the Afro-Latina identity, etc. Most important of all, it fosters community and an outlet for women who haven’t seen themselves celebrated on the whole in media. I recommend you give Ain’t I Latina a shot.
Are you a fan of Ain’t I Latina? What do you love about the site? Give your opinions below!