HuffPost Her Stories: Amara La Negra Speaks Out Against Colorism In Latinx Communities

Hi, readers!

I’m Aurora, an editor based in HuffPost’s New York office. In the coming weeks, I’ll be bringing you stories focusing on the experiences of women across the world. Today, we’re highlighting stories from the HuffPost U.S. Hispanic Heritage Month series, which spotlights Latinx trailblazers.

“I’ve been discriminated against so many times, and that’s why I’ve decided to be an activist,” Amara La Negra told HuffPost U.S. “I want to say the day that I die, my life mattered.”

The Dominican-American singer and actress first made a name for herself on the series “Love & Hip Hop: Miami.” Since then, she’s become outspoken about her experiences in the entertainment industry as an Afro-Latina and about overcoming the prejudice she faces for having dark skin. 

HuffPost associate video editor Kiara Alfonseca thought it would be important to feature the star in the Hispanic Heritage Month series.

“One of our main focuses for Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month was on creating a diverse, nuanced series that looks at how complicated our community is, and I knew that some of our content should center on and highlight Afro-Latinx talent,” Kiara said. “Amara La Negra was the first one to come to mind because she has so fiercely addressed this issue of race and color in general and among our own people.”

Amara La Negra first made a name for herself on the series “Love & Hip Hop: Miami.”

Amara La Negra first made a name for herself on the series “Love & Hip Hop: Miami.”

Looking for a sense of belonging both within Latinx communities and in the larger U.S. society, while finding one’s authentic self, has been a major theme in Kiara’s recent work for HHM. The topic has resonated with many HuffPost readers.

“A lot of the response has been about relating to those experiences and readers who want to see Amara and other Afro-Latinxs thriving in all of these spaces that aren’t always so accepting, even if you’re [considered] ‘one of them,’” she said, adding that readers “expressed their love for her and what she stands for.”

Similarly, Kiara’s interview with Esmeralda Santiago, author of the celebrated novel “When I Was Puerto Rican,” also touches on this theme of cultural belonging — specifically, staying connected to one’s homeland even while living in a society that isn’t always welcoming toward immigrants.

“I related to Santiago’s story of being an outsider and being ‘other-ed,’” Kiara said. “I’ve gotten a lot of feedback about readers feeling like they’re understood or that they feel represented by these kinds of narratives.”

Despite the challenges the Latinx community faces when it comes to representation and acceptance in the U.S., Kiara says Hispanic Heritage Month is a chance to highlight its nuanced and complex stories.

“We just had to dedicate the time and effort to serve an underserved community because it’s the right thing to do,” she said. “My best advice: Listen to other Latinx people about what is important to them and what they want to hear.”

Thanks for reading,

Follow Kiara Alfonseca (@kiaraalfonseca) for more stories about culture, feminism, race and criminal justice. Find more stories from the HuffPost U.S. Hispanic Heritage Month series, including the incredible journey of Xiye Batsida, a young indigenous woman who has been helping lead the fight against climate change. Also, check out Julie Piñero’s article about two Latino entrepreneurs who have broken into the cannabis industry and Monica Torres’ powerful piece about job-hunting while undocumented.

Valentina Sampaio poses during an interview in Milan on Feb. 18, 2017.

Valentina Sampaio poses during an interview in Milan on Feb. 18, 2017.

Last month, Victoria’s Secret announced that Valencia Sampaio would be the brand’s first transgender model. Sampaio, a native of Fortaleza, a city in northeastern Brazil, has been making waves in the fashion world in recent years, and she’s determined to keep pushing boundaries.

“Obviously I’m very happy with the changes taking place in our industry. And not just for the trans community. It’s inspiring to see many minorities represented, whether by gender, body type, or ethnicity,” she told HuffPost Brazil. “Everyone needs to be represented in fashion and in society.” 

Sampaio’s hiring is particularly significant amid a crisis in Brazil for LGBTQ people. While homicide rates in Brazil are high generally, advocacy groups point out that many incidents of violence targeting LGBTQ people are directly related to homophobia and transphobia.

Thomas Cook staff giving information to British passengers at Palma de Mallorca airport on Monday. 

Thomas Cook staff giving information to British passengers at Palma de Mallorca airport on Monday. 

The shutdown of the U.K.’s oldest travel company has had reverberations all over the world, with the firm canceling all future flights and hotel bookings — and women have been especially affected by the company’s demise, argues Sophie Walker in HuffPost U.K. The government has previously fought to protect men’s jobs in manufacturing and steel, but she says there has been an eerie silence over the 6,000-odd women’s jobs lost at the travel group. Sophie warns policymakers that Thomas Cook’s collapse should be a wake-up call for decision-makers and said it shows that the U.K. economy is becoming skewed in a way that could threaten future growth and prosperity.

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