[Blackstudies-l] Se Que Soy‘: Amara La Negra Embraces Her Afro-Latinidad

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Thu Mar 15 14:38:12 EDT 2018

lisaparavisini posted: " A report by Shereen Marisol Meraji for NPR. Diana
de los Santos, better known as Amara La Negra, is black and proud. She's
also the breakout star of this season of Love & Hip Hop: Miami. Most
importantly, she's an Afro-Latina singer who won't compr"
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<http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/> ‚Se Que Soy‘: Amara La
Negra Embraces Her Afro-Latinidad
lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>


A report by Shereen Marisol Meraji for *NPR*

Diana de los Santos, better known as Amara La Negra
<https://www.npr.org/artists/593208654/amara-la-negra>, is black and proud.
She's also the breakout star of this season of *Love & Hip Hop: Miami*.
Most importantly, she's an Afro-Latina singer who won't compromise her
blackness for her Latinidad.

"If I say I'm Afro-Latina, you'll automatically, visually in your mind see
[that] I'm dark," Amara tells NPR's Shereen Marisol Meraji. "And [in] my
family we all speak Spanish, we're Latinos. This is my culture."

While her distinct dancehall pop hooks and dembow rhythms have made hits
out of songs like "What A Bam Bam" and "Se Que Soy," Amara's storyline on *Love
& Hip-Hop: Miami* is proof of how difficult it can be for Afro-Latinas to
make it in the entertainment business.

Born in Miami, Fla., Amara La Negra grew up singing, dancing, and acting.
"Performing is what I was born to do, but it hasn't always been easy," she

Amara remembers dealing with racism and colorism in entertainment since
pre-school. At 4, she won a competition that landed her on the the
wildly-successful Hispanic variety show, *Sábado Gigante*
*. *For the six years she was on the show, Amara says she was the only
dark-skinned child in the cast and that producers would always place her
either way in the back of the stage or smack in the middle "like a bug in
the middle of a cup of milk."

The comments about Amara's appearance from people working on the show were
constant. Amara's mother was often told her daughter's hair was
unmanageable and needed to be permed.

"And I remember her looking at me and her face ... it was just letting me
know that this was the beginning of the struggle," Amara says.

After years of straightening perms, hot combs, and dieting Amara decided
she was done policing her body. So she took the stage name Amara La Negra,
"love the black woman," and embraced her afro.

Amara's mother, Ana Maria, encouraged her daughter to embrace her natural
beauty. As a native of the Dominican Republic, Amara's mother came to the
U.S. and raised the singer on her own in Miami. Ana Maria worked multiple
jobs — cleaning houses, cooking, selling flowers on street corners — to pay
for Amara's dance classes and singing lessons.
[image: The Austin 100: Amara La Negra]
may have big dreams, but her dreams for me are even bigger," Amara
says on *Love
& Hip Hop: Miami*.

Amara wants people watching her on TV to know that she doesn't live some
fancy or glamorous life. More importantly, she wants people to know what
she's up against in the music industry. She explains that racism and
colorism run rampant in the business, and not just from white Americans,
but from other Latinos, too. Amara proves this point early on the show when
she meets with a Puerto Rican producer known as Young Hollywood.

"Instead of asking me about my music ... he was too concerned about my
hair," she says. He told her to look "a little bit more Beyoncé, a little
less Macy Gray."

The Young Hollywood debacle sparked a conversation about colorism and the
racist notion of *mejorando la raza*
the Latino community.

"I know that nobody wants to talk about it, but we suffer a lot of racism,
we suffer a lot of colorism, amongst ourselves. You know, I get it all the
time: 'Oh whenever you get married, don't get married to no black man
because you want to better the race,'" she says. "Somebody needs to say

Adolfo Cuevas <http://ase.tufts.edu/commhealth/faculty/cuevas.htm>, a
professor at Tufts University who studies the cumulative effects of racism
on the health of Afro-Latinos, is Afro-Dominican like Amara and says that
while there's not much data on Afro-Latino health, there are disparities
between black and white Latinos when it comes to health outcomes
Even when black Latinos have received higher education than white Latinos,
they are statistically less likely to be employed. And when they are
employed, they make less money. Afro-Latinos also report having more health
issues in general, and higher levels of depression.

Amara La Negra thinks more positive media representation can help heal the
Afro-Latino community. Growing up, she remembers that Afro-Cuban salsa
singer Celia Cruz <https://www.npr.org/artists/114177031/celia-cruz> was
the only famous Afro-Latina who looked like her that she had to look up to

"She was everything," Amara says. "She was loud ... she was very humble,
she was an amazing person."

Like Cruz, Amara La Negra wants to be a role model for Afro-Latinas coming
up in the industry today. Now, with new multi-album record deal
a doll collection in the works, and (with fingers crossed) a shot on the
big screen, Amara is working to bridge the gap.
*lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>* |
March 15, 2018 at 12:47 pm | Categories: News
<http://repeatingislands.com/category/news/> | URL: https://wp.me/psnTa-zEZ

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