Colorism is a very important issue that has not only affected the African American community but the Latino community as well. Whether it is in school or the job place, those who have darker colored skin are often looked down and ridiculed upon. The entertainment industry has been a prime example of discrimination of darker skin people for a number of years. Rising Pop Star, Amara La Negra, has been on the forefront speaking out about colorism in the entertainment industry. Despite some criticism from doubters, La Negra has handled the pressure very professionally and has inspired many who deal with colorism on a daily basis. We were able to chat with her on her music, Love & Hip Hop and her mission to speak out.
Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from and how was your upbringing?
My name is Amara La Negra. Born and raised in Miami. My Parents are Dominican. I’m an artist. I sing. Known for doing Latin and Urban music but I’ve been working on doing the crossover into the American market. People also know me for being a cast member in Love and Hip Hop Miami. I grew up like any other kid. I went to school. I grew up in Miami so it was very Latino based so I really didn’t feel uncomfortable. Mom spoke Spanish at home and I spoke English at school. I always knew I was a little bit different because people would treat me different but I felt comfortable. It wasn’t until I got older into the entertainment industry that I really started to realize that my skin complexion was perceived differently in the Latin community. I was always placed in the middle or the back when I was performing because they didn’t know where to place me. Even for commercials and stuff like that I used go to audition for, I could only be for a specific role cause I didn’t have the “Latina” look and I was too “Black” to represent what a Latina should look like. So growing up wasn’t really hard cause like I said I was a kid. It was more when I was trying to understand, probably when you’re about 9-10, that you really realize things are different.
Being on Love and Hip Hop, you’ve dealt with a number of controversy from your hair, skin color, and ethnicity. How have these issues made you look at the music industry and what are some ways to combat them?
One of the ways is I talk about it. I use my social media platform. I use TV. I use whatever platform I have in hand to promote the Afro-Latina community to talk about colorism and racial issues that we’re going through in our community. I don’t do it angrily, I just do it to educate people because I feel people can feel a certain type of way, or we may not come together as a whole is that there’s a lot of miscommunication. I really feel like now that me being on the cover of Latino magazine, which is an important magazine for us, I feel that there should be more magazines that have more afro Latinas on the cover, more soap operas that use us in a positive light, and movies and stuff like that which we don’t have. So just be able to be the face of representation or voice of the afro Latina community is very important because Latinas come in all sizes, shapes, and shades. We haven’t always shown that and it’s important because there’s a new generation that doesn’t have lot of people to look up to unless they look at the African-American market.
Seeing that you have inspired many Afro-Latinos around the world, what has been the most rewarding words of encouragement you have received from a fan or close family member?
I get DM’s and messages all the time from my fans jut thanking me for showing the world a little bit about our culture, music, history. We get that a lot and I’m thankful for it. I get girls that call me all the time. I have a PO Box and I get my fans to send me whatever they want. It could be art, letters, and music. I get so many letters telling me how I motivated them and encourage them to love the skin they’re in. To not be scared of putting themselves out there like that. It’s just a beautiful thing to know that I can motivate and inspire people through my story.
How can the Black community and others help improve the way colorism is viewed in America?
Well to be honest, at the end of the day, I don’t stand up for the Afro-Latina community but I stand up for the whole race in general. It’s not just about Afro-Latinos, it’s about us a whole. Wherever you may be from, you should be comfortable in the skin that you’re in and not feel that you’re being judged based on your looks and who you are as a person or if your well educated or based off you personality. It’s really a big issue because there’s a lot of people that think racial issues only happen between black and white but don’t realize that among our own communities we have a lot of colorism issues as well and not just the African-American community but the Latino community as well. I’m pretty sure not just the Latino community but in Asia and many parts of the world there is this colorism issue that the more European features you have, the better it is. It’s a brainwashed mentality. So it’s going take a long time but I think it’s important we at least talk about it because if I can at least inspire one person in this world, I’ve accomplished my mission.
You just released a new single called ‘Insecure’ which is making its way up the charts. What can we expect in the future from you and your brand to help improve the way women of color are viewed in the media?
Well my song “Insecure” came out yesterday and its doing really good which I’m so happy. I’m working on my EP. Not album as of right now. I’m also going to be working on a single for the Latin market. I just got offered a book deal. I’ve been working on a small collection of shoes. Preparing to go on tour. Preparing for the second season of love and hip hop Miami and I’m also working on a collection of dolls which I’ve always wanted to do. So I have a lot on my plate right now but I’m so blessed and I’m enjoying every step of it. I really hope that me being able to showcase the fact I can do all of these can inspire people like myself to come forward and be known in any part of the entertainment industry. Whether it is any part of the novellas, soap operas, movies, commercials, whatever the case it may be. We can come together and be more of us.
Knowing what you know seeing all your hard work paying off, what advice would do you have for someone who’s trying break into the music industry?
Be Patient. Disciplined. Definitely be determined. You have to be determined because if not you’re not going to make it. Just keep knocking on doors because they’ll tell you no so many times. I always say and live by the theme “How bad do you want it? And if you want it, you’ll find a way.” So I truly believe that.