“Growing up, my mom used to always tell me that, because of the color of my skin, I would always have to work twice as hard to be recognized for my work,” Amara told HuffPost in a recent interview where she opens up about why the Latinx community needs to address colorism. “It wasn’t until I got older that I realized and understood what she meant by it.”
The former Love & Hip Hop: Miami star was raised by a single mother from the Dominican Republic, who migrated through the Mexican border and settled in Miami, Florida when arriving in the U.S. Born Diana Danelys De Los Santos, Amara has always been proud of her Black and Latinx roots.
She’s always stood up for her community and her roots — for example, during an episode of Love & Hip Hop: Miami she confronted a Latinx music producer, Young Hollywood, who quickly began to critique her afro hairstyle and suggested she do something different with it. To which Amara replied, “so I can’t be elegant if I have a fro?” The producer (mistakenly) agreed.
Amara began replying by telling him that as an Afro-Latina she “embraces it” but before she can finish, the producer cuts her off and asks her to “elaborate” on what Afro-Latina means (“wait a minute, Afro-Latina? Are you African? Or is that just because you have an afro?” he asks). “Just in case you hadn’t noticed, I am Black,” she replies to him. “Not all Latinas look like J.Lo or Sofia Vergara or Shakira, so where are the women that look like myself?” Enough said, Amara.
“A lot of people like to box me in… but that doesn’t make me less Latina, I’m 100% and proud of it,” she adds during a confessional.
Her stage name is also a celebration — and a reminder to everyone — of her blackness in an industry that’s full of ignorance and racism when it comes to black and brown women who don’t fit into the stereotypical role of what a Latina “should” look or act like.
“Here’s a classic one — people consider me to be physically attractive, and I get the, ‘Oh my god, you’re a pretty Black girl,’ or ‘For being Black, you’re really pretty,'” Amara told the HuffPost in the interview. “I went to do an audition for a soap opera, and they told me, ‘You’re probably not going to get the role because they want someone who looks more Latina.’”
Amara began performing at a young age on Sábado Gigante and has dedicated herself to music dancehall and dembow riddim. She’s released popular singles including “Se Que Soy” and “What A Bam Bam” that includes the lyrics “No te equivoque que yo ando soltera/e’ta negra no se va con cualquiera.” Her latest album, Unstoppable, came out earlier this year with the lead single, “Insecure.”
Through her music and activism, she’s helping elevate Afro-Latinidad in the mainstream, fully aware that in the current political climate it’s necessary. She wants to make sure brown and black children aren’t discouraged by the racist rhetoric and lack of representation.
“They are the future. It’s hard out here. It’s been a hard journey for myself,” she tells HuffPost. “In my case, I get the best of both worlds. I’m Black and Latina and we already know how it feels in the United States.”
She’s also had to combat colorism within the Latinx community, where the idea that lighter skin is better is still prevalent but she’s fueled by the ignorance and it’s what’s propelled her to be such a vocal advocate.
“I’ve been discriminated against so many times and that’s why I’ve decided to be an activist,” she told HuffPost. “I want to say the day that I die, my life mattered.”