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Amara La Negra opens up about being Afro-Latina and dealing with colorism

Amara La Negra is a proud Afro-Latina woman using her platform to inspire others. (Photo: Joey Rosado)

Afro-Latina recording artist and reality star Amara La Negra makes headlines not only for her amazing talent, but also because of her unique beauty.

Just last week, Amara was accused of “blackface” and responded in the best way possible: with a video of herself as a young girl with the same dark skin that she has now — confirming that the skin tone you see is truly her own.

But the controversy around Amara’s personal image doesn’t stop there. Prior to the blackface accusation, a producer and fellow cast member on Love & Hip Hop: Miami, Young Hollywood, suggested that she try looking a bit more like “Beyoncé” and less “Macy Gray.” Further, in 2016, a former Dominican beauty queen was called out for becoming a blackface version of Amara’s look — wearing a faux Afro, dark makeup, and butt padding.

With all the questioning and mimicking of the 26-year-old’s look, one can’t help but wonder how she manages to stay so confidently true to who she is. So Yahoo Lifestyle spoke to Amara, who said that her mother is one of her biggest inspirations. “My mom is everything,” she said. “She built me the way that I am and made sure that I always knew that my color was beautiful. She always would tell me, ‘Because of your color, you’re always going to have to work twice as hard to be recognized for your work.’ I never understood it until years later — and she was right.”

From an artistic standpoint, Amara said she’s been inspired by the late Cuban-American singer Celia Cruz (also known as “the Queen of Salsa”). “In the Latin community, she was the only Afro-Latino who made it worldwide, and she was like our Michael Jackson,” Amara shared. “Celia Cruz was the only Afro-Latino that looked like myself and made me think, ‘Oh my God. You know, when I grow up, I can be like her.'” 

Though there are some well-known Afro-Latinas — actresses Dascha Polanco and Gina Torres and journalist Soledad O’Brien among them — there is room for plenty more such women, especially those with darker skin and natural hair, for younger Latina girls of color to look up to in mainstream media. Amara, reflecting back to her own childhood, shares a mortifying experience on the topic.

I remember being 4 years old, working on this network,” she recalled. “They had a hairstylist, and the hairstylist said to my mom, ‘You need to perm her hair because her hair is unmanageable and we don’t have time for this.’ I will always remember those words, and the look that my mom gave me. I looked at her like, ‘I don’t know what to do. Like what? It’s not my fault. What am I supposed to do?’ After that day, I remember my mom perming my hair.” 

Amara wants to be the person to change these kinds of unfortunate experiences for young girls. “I want to use my voice to help little girls coming up like myself not to have to go through it.”

Celia Cruz was a Cuban-American singer whom Amara looked up to. (Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

It’s on Love & Hip Hop: Miami that Amara talks about seeing only high-profile Latinas such as Jennifer Lopez, Sofia Vergara, and Shakira on television. “They’re beautiful, but unfortunately, when you talk about Latinos, that’s all that you see,” Amara said. “You don’t see people like myself. And there are millions of Afro-Latinos. There isn’t a Latin country that doesn’t have Afro-Latinos — who are not portrayed on magazine covers, on soap operas, or movies. It’s just like, ‘Step back and you stay back.’ I’m just sick of it.

“Don’t ever feel as if you need to change who you are in order to be accepted or in order to be beautiful,” she stated. “That’s my true issue. Not so much about a specific race. It’s just in general.”

Amara added, “Not everyone is meant to be skinny or tall or have a big butt or big boobs. Just take you as you are. If you want to change a little bit because it’s going to make you feel better, do it. But don’t do it because you feel pressured that you have to.”

Amara La Negra wants to inspire women to be themselves. (Photo: Chris Evans)

Through thick and thin, Amara seems unstoppable, and she has no plans of slowing down anytime soon. She recently signed a multimillion-dollar record deal with BMG and Fast Life Entertainment and already has plans to release her first single in the first quarter of 2018. She also has a clothing line called ALN (her initials), whose mission is to make everyone, no matter their race, age, or size, feel confident and empowered.

“There’s just so many great things happening for my life and my career right now that I’m extremely happy about,” said Amara. “I’m very focused, and I just want to show the world that you can make it being yourself, being who you are.”

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