The Love & Hip Hop franchise, which spans four major cities, is known more for the petty drama (which usually leaks over from the small screen to social media) versus the music that the cast members produce and perform. However, on last night's premiere of Love & Hip Hop: Miami, two of the show newbies provided some social commentary that goes way deeper than hashtags.
Dominican recording artist Amara La Negra met up with producer Young Hollywood for a studio session. While bouncing ideas off each other, Young Hollywood suggested that Amara should switch up her image... namely, her massive Afro that fans know and love her for. "I need you to look a certain way... a little more Beyoncé, a little less Macy Gray," he said. "You gotta be a little more sensual... you can see Beyoncé just like this, soul sister, the same way you can see her in an elegant gown."
And no, Young Hollywood — who obviously hasn't seen stars like Lupita Nyong'o, Viola Davis, and Beyoncé herself wear their natural hair on the red carpet — wasn't kidding. At all. He stood by his opinion while mocking Amara's identity ("You're so intense about this 'African thing,'" he said), jokingly raised the Black power fist while she spoke her mind, told her that the music industry only wants a "cookie-cutter poster child," and called Amara a "Nutella queen" before claiming that she was "psychotic" for being offended at all of the crazy shit he said. Things got so heated that Amara, understandably, walked out on the session. Oh, and the kicker? Young Hollywood is Latinx, too.
He lightly addressed the controversy in an Instagram post today, with the caption "Don’t be so quick to judge & stay tuned to next episode. Otro logro para nuestra cultura" (meaning: "another achievement for our culture"). Most of Amara's supporters went ahead and ignored his plea, though, coming to her defense across social media platforms.
And Amara stood her ground. "I'm extremely proud of my brown skin. I'm proud of my color, of the way that my hair curls... and no one's gonna take that away from me," she said during the episode. "Not even Hollywood with his little slick ass comments." She also tweeted in response to all of the support she's received since the premiere:
For so many years i felt alone fighting to be understood by many and never in a thousand years would i have imagine to have soo much support! Omg! Im about to cry! Thank yoh guys soooo much!— A M A R A (@AmaraLaNegraALN) January 2, 2018
Sadly, this isn't the first time that Amara's Afro has been criticized in the public eye. In 2016, Geisha Montes de Oca (who was 2008's Miss World Dominican Republic) imitated the singer on a popular variety show wearing an Afro wig, butt pads, and blackface. In a since-deleted Instagram post, Montes de Oca didn't apologize, as she's "not racist" and argues that in the Dominican Republic, "there is NO 'black face' because we are, in most part, descendants of Africans."
Even if Montes de Oca and Young Hollywood didn't mean any harm, their actions still fuel a historic culture of shame that people of color face to this day. Dark skin is still considered undesirable all around the world. Kinky hair is still called nappy while 2 and 3-type curls are fetishized. Beliefs like these are why major companies suffer advertising missteps, claiming that "white is purity" or alleging that fairer skin is better. Yes, in 2017.
Conversations like the one Amara and Young Hollywood had need to happen, so we can continue to debunk the bullshit... and hopefully, Amara will continue to use her new platform to do so. "They never consider that a woman like myself can represent Latinas. They are always looking for women like Shakira, Sofia Vergara or Jennifer Lopez," Amara said in an August 2017 Instagram post. "It truly is frustrating. I am fighting to break this stereotype because I am proud of who I am, of my roots, of my so called 'bad hair' and I know that many Latinas identify with me." In other words: You have no choice but to get a dose of her Black girl magic on the small screen... and I, for one, will be watching every week.