Entertainment

Amara la Negra Is The Afro-Latina Entertainer Everyone Needs To Know About

We all know Amara La Negra from her Spanish-language fame and explosive entrance into English-language Hollywood in Love & Hip Hop: Miami. She’s become an Afro-Latina icon and is beloved in hip-hop, Latin, Dominican and feminist circles. Yet, her appearance on film, television and the charts since a young child hasn’t earned her a Wikipedia page yet.

There are a lot people who don’t know about her and need to.

Her real name is Diana Danelys De Los Santos.

@AmaraLaNegraLN / Instagram

She took on the name Amara La Negra, which means “love the black woman.” She’s pointed out how the Spanish language has a million indirect names for black people and she took on the name as a stake in her pride to be a black woman.

Amara was raised in Miami by her single mother.

@AmaraLaNegraLN / Instagram

Her mom is everything to her. She grew up in a single parent house and her mom worked five jobs to pay for her dance, modeling and singing lessons. Her mom is a chef and Amara told mitú that she never let Amara in the kitchen for fear she would love cooking and become a chef.

To this day, she doesn’t know how to ride a bike or swim.

@AmaraLaNegraLN / Instagram

The 28-year-old singer has openly said that her childhood revolved around her future. She was in dance classes Monday through Friday and just didn’t have time to learn those things.

When she was just four years old, she won a spot in Univision’s Sábado Gigante TV program.

Amara La Negra / Facebook

She told NPR that for the six years she was on the show, she was the only dark-skinned kid cast. She felt like she was always either in the back of the stage or dead center in the middle “like a bug in the middle of a cup of milk.”

Amara always wanted to be like Celia Cruz.

@AmaraLaNegraLN / Instagram

She told Latino USA, “Growing up, I never saw anyone who looked like me besides Celia Cruz. She was such a strong, powerful woman. She was a very inspirational person.”

She faced more racism in the Dominican Republic than in the U.S. when it came to her rise to fame.

@AmaraLaNegraLN / Instagram

Caption: “Whenever I get Tired of my journey I Remind myself of All the Dreams I promised my mom I would accomplish. All the things I promised her I Would buy her. A Big House, Nice Cars… I promised her id take care of her and she’d never have to work again. All I care is to make her proud. In this journey of life I have sacrificed so much because of my determination and focus. I was Born Doing this and I Refuse to Fail.”

“Now that I’m on the cover of People magazine and whatnot, all of sudden, I’m the Dominican Republic’s biggest pride”

@radio_dlovato / Twitter

In a Rolling Stone interview, she recounts her relationship to the Dominican Republic and how, she “said for years people didn’t support me…and now they’re eating me up alive for saying it. There are headlines that read, ‘Amara is against the Dominican Republic, against la patria.’ Like, WTF? I’m always proud, I’m always waving the flag, and I’m forever grateful to those who did support me.”

She first visited the Domincan Republi when she was 18 years old.

@AmaraLaNegraALN / Instagram

She goes back more often now, and recently shared her last trip to the Domincan Republic where she taught her little cousin how to “Milly Rock.” Her parents are from San Cristóbal, and you can spot framed photos of her childhood Univision career on tía’s walls if you follow her story.

The lack of representation is her motivation to succeed.

@AmaraLaNegraLN / Instagram

“There is still a lot of ignorance surrounding the Afro-Latino community, and it has given me all the reason to want to keep fighting for it,” she tells Rolling Stone. “Somewhere along the way, I started to feel this energy in my body – this need to empower other women, this need to liberate people. This need to talk. Why isn’t anybody saying anything?”

After Young Hollywood questioned Amara La Negra’s blackness on Love & Hip Hop, she sparked a new conversation about Afro-Latinidad.

Untitled. Digital Image. CheekyWiki. 29 November 2018.

Young Hollywood straight up told Amara to be “a little less Macy Gray and a little more Beyoncé” and questioned whether her afro is her natural hair, calling it a “costume.” She just walked out of the room.

Amara even took to Instagram to show her mother unbraiding her hair after taking out her extensions to prove her blackness.

@AmaraLaNegraLN / Instagram

Young Hollywood apologized on camera but in a later interview with AfterBuzzTV, refused to call her an Afro-Latina, saying that he doesn’t “see the color.” As in, he also refused to acknowledge the racism that she receives that he doesn’t experience.

Amara continued the conversation in an ASMR video with Fuse TV.

@AmaraLaNegraLN / Instagram

She embraces her black body and Latino culture in a way that we need more of in this world. She continues to push the envelope when taling about her ethnicity and heritage.

Amara’s read the research and wants to heal the Afro-Latino community.

@AmaraLaNegraALN / Instagram

Afro-Dominican Tufts researcher, Adolfo Cuevas, has uncovered how Afro-Latinos are more likely to have more health issues and higher levels of depression, along with making less money than white Latinos at the same level of education.

Amara thinks positive representation can heal and is starting with her very own children’s book.

@AmaraLaNegraLN / Twitter

Caption: “The book includes three personal stories, centered around the themes of ambition, inspiration, and personal motivation, which are intended to spread positivity. Being able to spread the word of motivation and love is important, especially to children at a young age. Teaching them certain things in life such as self-love, motivation, goals and trusting your parents.”

“Amarita’s Way” is already achieving its destiny.

@AmaraLaNegraaLN / Instagram

“Representation is key. Just like we have all these amazing princesses from Disney, and we have Dora the Explorer, I feel that we need an Amarita.” Amara told PEOPLE. Follow @AmaraLaNegraaLN to see reposts of little brown girls seeing themselves (finally) in children’s books.

Amara is even narrating an animated TIDAL series called Footprints.

@AmaraLaNegraLN / Instagram

The whole series focuses specifically on Afro-Latino Music icons (see: Cardi B, Celia Cruz, etc.). The series celebrates Latino blackness in what we’re pretty sure is the first major production on the subject to date. We hope Young Hollywood will be watching.

Fans are screaming for her role in Hollywood’s Fall Girls, coming out in 2019.

IMDB

IMDB just released the trailer and it looks iconic. Three African-American women party all night with their rich, white boss only to find out in the morning that she died. The three pretend that she’s still alive while they try to solve the murder themselves to avoid becoming the police’s fall girls.

Amara’s first love is singing, but she’s even released her own fashion line.

@AmaraLaNegraALN / Instagram

You’ll only find fierce, full-bodied black women modeling the t-shirts, sweaters, hoodies, and swimwear that Amara sells. Representation everywhere, please.

She’s even a certified Zumba instructor.

@AmaraLaNegraALN / Instagram

She started getting active with Zumba to lose weight and eventually lost close to 100 pounds! Obviously, her body doesn’t quit and we hope it never does.

Amara is decidedly here to elevate Afro-Latinos, not as a separate entity, but to be truly represented as Latino in Hollywood.

@AmaraLaNegraALN / Instagram

“You should never ever feel that you need to change the way you are to succeed,” she told NPR. “As far as my skin and my color, I’m over it. Y’all gotta love me the way that I am. Period. That’s not gonna change.”

Thank you for existing in the spotlight for us, Amara.

@AmaraLaNegraALN / Instagram

Caption: “Caption This.” Amara is everything. She’s got a sense of humor like no other, grace, humility, ferocity in the face of ignorance. She’s everything I want to be and more.


READ: WATCH: Amara La Negra Keeps It Real About What She Looks For In A Romantic Partner

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Today, Puerto Rico Celebrates Emancipation Day–the Day When the Island Officially Abolished Slavery

Things That Matter

Today, Puerto Rico Celebrates Emancipation Day–the Day When the Island Officially Abolished Slavery

Photo via George W. Davis, Public Domain

Today, March 22nd marks Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud in Puerto Rico–the date that marks the emancipation of slaves in Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, enslaved peoples were emancipated in 1873–a full decade after the U.S. officially abolished slavery. But unlike the U.S. mainland, Puerto Rico celebrates today as an official holiday, where many businesses are closed.

The emancipation of Puerto Rican slaves was a very different process than the United States’. For one, the emancipation was gradual and over three years.

When the Spanish government abolished slavery in Puerto Rico 1873, enslaved men and women had to buy their freedom. The price was set by their “owners”. The way the emancipated slaves bought their freedom was through a process that was very similar to sharecropping in the post-war American south. Emancipated slaves farmed, sold goods, and worked in different trades to “buy” their freedom.

In the same Spanish edict that abolished slavery, slaves over the age of 60 were automatically freed. Enslaved children who were 5-years-old and under were also automatically freed.

Today, Black and mixed-race Puerto Ricans of Black descent make up a large part of Puerto Rico’s population.

The legacy of enslaved Black Puerto Ricans is a strong one. Unlike the United States, Puerto Rico doesn’t classify race in such black-and-white terms. Puerto Ricans are taught that everyone is a mixture of three groups of people: white Spanish colonizers, Black African slaves, and the indigenous Taíno population.

African influences on Puerto Rican culture is ubiquitous and is present in Puerto Rican music, cuisine, and even in the way that the island’s language evolved. And although experts estimate that up to 60% of Puerto Ricans have significant African ancestry, almost 76% of Puerto Ricans identified as white only in the latest census poll–a phenomenon that many sociologists have blamed on anti-blackness.

On Puerto Rico’s Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud, many people can’t help but notice that the island celebrates a day of freedom and independence when they are not really free themselves.

As the fight for Puerto Rican decolonization rages on, there is a bit of irony in the fact that Puerto Rico is one of the only American territories that officially celebrates the emancipation of slaves, when Puerto Rico is not emancipated from the United States. Yes, many Black Americans recognize Juneteenth (June 19th) as the official day to celebrate emancipation from slavery, but it is not an official government holiday.

Perhaps, Puerto Rico celebrates this historical day of freedom because they understand how important the freedom and independence is on a different level than mainland Americans do.

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How Afromexicanos Fought For Their Place on the 2020 Mexico Census and Why It Took So Long

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How Afromexicanos Fought For Their Place on the 2020 Mexico Census and Why It Took So Long

Photo via SusanaHarp/Twitter

Black history month is the time of year that we shine a spotlight on the rich and unique history of people of African descent in the United States–a past that has consistently been downplayed, ignored, and in some cases, erased from our history books.

At this point, it’s evident that the Black experience is not a monolith–there is no “one way” to be Black. And yet, many people still struggle to comprehend the fact that Afro-Latinos exist.

When you hear the term Afro-Latino, you might immediately think of a few Caribbean Spanish-speaking nations with explicit ties to the African diaspora–Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, for example.

But the fact is, Black people are everywhere in Latinidad. But Afro-Latinos in non-Caribbean countries often feel overlooked, erased. And this phenomenon is especially true for afromexicanos.

In 2020, after years of fighting, Afro-Mexicans finally got recognition on the Mexican census.

The question was simple, but powerful: “Por sus costumbres y tradiciones, ¿se considera usted afromexicano, negro o afrodescendiente?” (“Based on your culture and traditions, do you consider yourself Afro-Mexican, black or Afro-descendant?”)

For Americans, especially, it can be hard to understand why the question wasn’t on the census in the first place. After all, Americans live in a country where identities are divided into strict categories: Black, white. Hispanic, non-Hispanic.

But for Mexicans, the concept of race and ethnicity is a bit more complicated. To critics, separating people into Black, white, and Indiegnous categories on the census seemed divisive. Many Mexicans identify as mestizaje–a combination of indigenous, European, and, to some extent, African roots.

But for the organizers of the #AfroCensoMx campaign–a campaign to add the negro/afromexicano to the census–the movement was more than just identity politics.

Self-identifying as Black on the Mexican census is, of course, a little bit about pride in one’s identity, but it also has more practical concerns.

The census numbers who also inform organizations about socio-economic patterns associated with being Black in Mexico–information that is invaluable. Because as of now, afromexicanos have unique experiences that are informed by their heritage, their culture, and their place in the Mexican stratum.

As Bobby Vaughn, an African-American anthropologist who specializes in Black Mexicans, put it bluntly: “Mexicans of African descent have no voice and the government makes no attempt to assess their needs, no effort to even count them.”

But for afromexicano activists, being identified as such on the Mexican census is empowering.

Lumping all Mexicans together and ignoring their (sometimes very obvious) differences can have the effect of making certain groups feel erased. Yes, Black Mexicans are simply Mexicans–that fact is not up for debate. But stories abound of afromexicanos being discriminated against because of the way they look.

An Afro-Mexican engineer named Bulmaro García from Costa Chica (a region with a significant Black population) explained to The Guardian how he is grilled by border guards and asked to sing the Mexican national anthem whenever he crosses into Guerrero.

He says the guards’ behavior is “classic discrimination due to skin color. [They think] if you’re black, you’re not Mexican.”

The differences exist, and by acknowledging it, we are more able to speak truth to power.

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