Gaslighting Colorism

Are we ignoring those still suffering through issues of colorism?

Love And Hip-Hop is a guilty pleasure for me like I’m sure it is for most.

Even amongst reality TV shows it’s pretty bottom of the barrel. This is actually kind of surprising when you think about it considering that it’s as contrived and forced as any show in its genre but hey; that’s a conversation for another time.

Anyway, my being a fan of this series naturally led me to it’s newest incarnation: Love and Hip-Hop Miami.

The show features much of what you would expect; a cast of forgotten urban music celebrities, locals from the area trying to ride Mona Scott’s gilded coattails to music fame, and randos who may not even be from Miami to pad out the cast.

In terms of storylines, it’s mostly the usual fodder. You have your couple that consists of a beautiful devoted curvaceous woman trying to start her own business and a washed-up rapper/producer who can’t keep “it” in his pants. There also may be some slight variation with other storylines in the middle with someone battling an illness or a rapper trying to rebrand themselves as an entrepreneur.

What’s interesting this go round is the aforementioned local trying to pursue music fame. This time it’s Amara La Negra, a beautiful afro latina/Dominican woman sporting an impressive afro.

The first episode of the season featured Amara meeting with producer Young Hollywood for a meeting where they’d decide whether or not they’d work with one another. During the meeting, Amara was told her Afro was inelegant/unprofessional by young Hollywood.

A few weeks after the episode premiered, Amara came to The Breakfast Club morning show for an interview where she talked about colorism in the Latino community.

To make a long story short, DJ Envy and Charlamagne Tha God basically gaslit her claims by questioning the legitimacy of the idea that lighter or more white-passing people aren’t favored in entertainment spaces.

This pretty much made social media explode with the usual “Boycott The Breakfast Club” or “The Breakfast Club is canceled” claims running rampant through most folks timeline.

People were pretty upset about this and I honestly can’t say I blame them…Colorism has long been racisms annoying younger brother.

For those who might be uninformed, it's’ basically favoring the lighter skinned or more white passing members of an ethnic group be it romantically or with career opportunities.

If you want more detail, check out the Willie lynch letters (their legitimacy may be questionable but the effects are still pretty tangible).

During her interview, Amara stated how difficult it is for someone as dark-skinned as she is to have a career in music because producers and executives see her as less marketable than the Jennifer Lopez's and Cardi B’s of this world.

As mentioned before, Charlemagne and Envy dismissed her claims by saying that issues like colorism have gotten better to the point of them being nonexistent. This was done all while cutting her off mid sentence…yeah…. No…

First, let's address the elephant in the room. Colorism is extremely rampant in Latin America. Turn to Telemundo during the hours where they show telenovelas and all the actors practically look like white people who happen to speak Spanish. It isn’t even just telenovelas. Look at half of the talk shows and infomercials on Telemundo and networks like it. It looks like the cast of Dawson’s Creek in a snowstorm (in Spanish).

Even if the issue of colorism was becoming less of a problem stateside, can we really blame Amara for feeling that it still exists considering the environment she grew up in/ the images she saw?

Moreover, there’s an issue with this interview that I’ve seen few people address. This issue being that rapper and producer Jermaine Dupri came to the breakfast club weeks earlier saying essentially the same thing.

Dupri talked about the issue of colorism in the American entertainment industry and how it long has been and still is an issue. What was interesting about this conversation was that, unlike with Amara, the show’s host gave Dupri the floor with little to no interruption.

This to me implies a bit of sexism which is sad considering Charlemagne, in particular, has made a lot of strides to align himself with feminist thoughts and ideas.

It’s a shame to see public figures like this take such a problematic stance. Being in the entertainment industry themselves, I have no doubt they’ve seen some of the same discrimination both Amara and Dupri spoke of. I pray this is the only time we see it this year...it probably won’t though.

 

Articme by Rovell Vialva

 

Cover photo source here