When It Comes To The Issue of Colorism — ”We Are Our Hair” and That’s Fucked Up
By the way — Amara La Negra is the real MVP!
Afro-Dominican singer and star of Love & Hip Hop Miami — Amara La Negra is dominating headlines due to her delightful fierceness during an encounter with a music producer at his North Miami studio — that was captured for the first episode of the latest addition to a still-thriving franchise.
Truth be told — I stopped watching reality TV shows that showcase the very worst of what we have to offer because of how the diseased rhetoric poses as a silent killer for the mind and soul. The battlefield of Twitter supplies more than enough of that shit — and despite my desire to curb my activities — I’m unable to do so — due to the nature of my profession.
However — it was hard to escape the stunningly controversial nature of this particular episode that features a dark-skinned woman with a buffet of gorgeous natural curls — sprouting out of her head as her acutely striking template provides the anchor of a perfect host.
The annoyingly vile clip can be seen here:
Amara La Negra Walks Out Of Her Session With Young Hollywood - Love & Hip Hop Miami | VH1
After Young Hollywood attempts to convince Amara La Negra to change her looks, she questions working with the producer.
To summarize — Amara is put through the ringer by this dude — Elijah “Young Hollywood” Sarraga — who is wowed by his potential client’s obvious talent — but for some reason he can’t get past her “troubling” presentation — and this is grossly illustrated in a series of comments that are generically offensive:
Sarraga mentions that Amara needs to infuse: “a little bit more Beyoncé, a little less Macy Gray.”
The Latino “hitmaker” went on to convince Amara about the importance of marketability in an industry that won’t deviate from the standard prototype: “You have to be more sensual.” “You could see Beyoncé just like this soul sista, the same way you could see her come in a beautiful gown, elegant, breathtaking.”
Sarraga then ends his pitiful case with zingers about Africa and how Amara’s Afro and “combative” attitude is a little much for someone who is trying to help get her career off the ground: “Are you African? Or is that just because you have an Afro?” He then suggests that his clearly infuriated sparring partner is “a little intense about this whole African thing.”
He finally adds that the industry caters only to “cookie-cutter poster” types.
There’s no doubt that when it comes to the issue of colorism “we are our hair” and that’s fucked up.
What Amara had to endure from the scorn of an absolute idiot — isn’t at all unusual — including the subsequent scandal that has been created out of the ridiculousness — that she darkened her skin tone for the purpose of selling herself as something she’s not.
Back in the late 90s and up to the mid 00’s — I also became a victim of intense bullying that bordered on verbal abuse when I made the decision to allow my natural hair to shine without the assistance of texture-altering products.
When singer Indie Arie dropped her hit single “I am Not My Hair” in 2002 — the words resonated with my rebellious disposition as I was forced on numerous occasions to defend my decision to walk around with “rough edges” and tresses that were devoid of the pronounced “curl pattern.”
I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am not your expectations, no (hey)
I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am the soul that lives within
Good hair means curls and waves (no)
Bad hair means you look like a slave (no)
I have explored the plethora of hair products that deceitfully promise to magically convert my apparently “dry” and “undefined pattern” into the more socially acceptable version — and it has cost me a lot. From Miss Jessies to Carol’s Daughter to Hair Rules to Shea Moisture — none of the overly-priced confections were able to tame my impressive mane — despite the experimental scoops and adherence to rules of usage.
I even tried texturizing my hair which proved to be a disaster and left me with stick straight hair in front and “almost curls” in the middle — while the back section remained unchanged.
The years before the “natural hair movement” that is populating my Instagram feed with variations of styling options were not kind or gracious.
I had to contend with family members begging me to fix my appearance in order to be more presentable — while friends who are currently dealing with premature baldness due to years of over-relaxing their hair — swore that my shockingly wild state made me look like a homeless woman. In fact a former friend recently confessed in a disgustingly rude note via Facebook Messenger — that when I dropped by her job many years ago — she was so embarrassed by how I looked — that she felt the need to assure her co-workers that I wasn’t “her friend.”
Now, years later — it has become fashionable and okay to rock natural hair with pride and joy. But, the battle within our own community rages on as we’ve become our own worst nightmare when it comes to degrading ourselves — with jarring insults that seem to reveal how problematic this “movement” has become.
Black men like Tyrese who are celebrities and therefore have their pick of “the perfect woman” at their finger tips — publicly shame Black women for wearing weaves and butchering our bodies to fit society’s expectations — and yet these same men marry women that aren’t Black, which sadly proves why some of us feel the pressure to compete with “exotic types.”
The true virus of colorism also shows through the hair textures that are weirdly included in a “movement” that was borne out of the need for Black woman with certain textures to finally shed the shame of not having the “mixed blood” that is required for the “looser curl pattern” — that can handle the splashes of ocean water with the ease of someone with the coveted “Native American” background.
It’s a “movement” and a big deal because Black women with tight curls that are prone to perpetual dryness and quite frankly a beast to handle unless you take the time to master the texture — tend to be afraid of the burden of responsibility that hits when you decide to operate all facets of your life sporting chemical-free tresses.
You can’t be bi-racial or “exotically-inclined” with smooth edges and the sleek porous curls that would instantly grant you access to French Montana’s music video shoot since he prefers Black women who don’t rock “nappy hair” — and demand entry into a club that you can’t relate to — even if your skin color is darker than mine.
And that’s the crux of the problem and the reason why I disagree with Indie Arie in her quest to distance herself from the issues that arise when hair textures collide. She boldly insists that she is more than her hair — when unfortunately the opposite is true — whether she wants it that way or not.
We are indeed our hair. And the way it curls or stubbornly refuses to absorb the delicacies buried in $50 jars of hope and desperation can make all the difference in the world. It can provide the confidence to ace that job interview or force you to consider using your sick days when you discover that your overnight styling session was a complete bust.
We are our hair because you can be as dark as night, but as long as you’re naturally blessed with tresses that obey the hair dryer and the pomade in ways that guarantee that super-straight sheet of dopeness — the war is won and you’re officially able to navigate a landscape that Black women like me can only dream of.
This is precisely why the idiot producer tried in vain to get Amara to understand the power she can wield in a world where Beyonce and Rihanna lookalikes dwell with no threat of being dethroned. There is a reason why successful women of color in the industry are systematized replicants. It’s the exact reason why “diversity” continues to be the ugly word that excludes dark-skinned women across the board — even when our own make the attempt to define it.
We are our hair and that’s why the natural movement can’t accommodate every damn person who feels the need to insert themselves — even when it’s obvious that they can “wash and go” without a care in the world.
It’s fucked up that we’re still immersed in the complexities of colorism and the tentacles that always lead to our crowning glory — since it serves as the ultimate test of the level of mixture we’re harboring. The results graphically expose whether or not we are just “regular Black women” or “Black women with the “symbol of notoriety.”
We may never get over these stifling hang ups — but while we deal with the terminal symptoms — let’s at least face this illness head on and without pretense.
It’s the very least we can do.