"Love & Hip Hop: Miami" may be a new series on VH1, but it's sparked a decades long conversation about where Afro-Latinx people fit in when it comes to black and Latin culture. Recording artist Amara La Negra has catapulted her name into mainstream media after scenes of her interactions with a producer made fans irate. Many felt as if Amara, a dark-skinned Dominican woman who loves to rock an afro and brag about her blackness, was being shamed for her looks and black pride.
“I think it’s unfortunate that there are so many talented Afro-Latinos all around the world but we’re not given the same opportunities based on the way that we look,” Amara told HuffPost. “It’s not that we’re not talented. It’s not that we’re not educated. They just don’t consider that we [have] what they consider to [be] the Latino look.”
Others have challenged another "Love & Hip Hop" star, Cardi B, for not proclaiming her black power status as a Dominican woman.
“One thing that always bothers me is that people know so little about my culture. We are Caribbean people. And a lot of people be attacking me because they feel like I don’t be saying that I’m black,” Cardi said to actress Zendaya in an interview for CR Fashion Book. “Some people want to decide if you’re black or not, depending on your skin complexion, because they don’t understand Caribbean people or our culture. I feel like people need to understand or get a passport and travel. I don’t got to tell you that I’m black. I expect you to know it.”
Recently, Detroit star Laz Alsono sat down with hosts Jason Lee and Melyssa Ford for "Hollywood Unlocked Uncensored" and set the record straight about how he feels about being an Afro-Latino black man. During the interview, Alonso regularly said the word "we" when talking about black people, and Melyssa was quick to try to question him about what he meant.
“You keep saying we. It’s like you're kind of connection with the Black community, but you’re Cuban,” she said.
"I'm black first," he replied, continuing, "We get caught up in where the ship dropped us off versus where the ship picked us up. The same boat that picked up your ancestors picked up my ancestors, only they dropped yours off here– they made a pit stop in the Caribbean and dropped mine off.”
Alonso's comments didn't stop there. He defended Amara after she did an interview with "The Breakfast Club" radio show and was questioned by Charlamange Tha God on whether or not her concerns with Afro-Latinx people with darker skinned tones were being marginalized in the Latin community was "all in her head." He and Charlamagne cleared up their disagreement later during a phone call.
“We actually had a really dope conversation on the phone afterwards…I responded emotionally to that clip, I’m not gonna lie,” he told TheGrio. “As a melanated nation, we have to have these conversations. We have a tremendously long history before slavery that we were never taught. We are learning that history from each other.”
Certainly, the history black people, enslavement of Africans and the African diaspora that occurred has mixed and intermingled cultures. Though the history is wrought with racism, inequity, and inequality, we need to celebrate each other and how black people, our beautiful melanin-rich people, have overcome the very worst of circumstances (and continue to). May we learn from one another and continue to celebrate our intellect, creativity, and charitable communities. #HappyBlackHistoryMonth