Amara La Negra: A Case Study In the Urgent Need for Intersectionality

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[IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Amara La Negra is photographed. Her hair is styled in an afro and she has one fist raised].

All too often in both the United States and abroad, individuals understand oppression as a unidimensional phenomenon. That is, while people generally recognize that one may be oppressed on the basis of attributes like skin color or ethnicity, few understand how one can be oppressed by the unique combination or intersection of these attributes. Amara La Negra’s experience provides a useful case study in this regard.

During Amara’s interview with the Breakfast Club in which she discussed the discrimination she faces as an Afro-Latina, Charlamagne Tha God asked her “[are] you sure [discrimination is] not in your mind?” He reasoned that because other artists of African descent like Cardi B have succeeded in an American context, that her oppression in a Latinx context was imagined. This, however, ignores the unique combination of her skin color in a Latinx cultural context as the basis of her oppression. Had Charlamagne understood that context matters and that being of African descent is more difficult in the Latinx market than in the American music market, he wouldn’t have framed her marginalization as imaginary or “in [her] mind.”

Amara acknowledges this much when she states that “for the most part I’m coming from the Latin market” and that this is a problem that darker skinned people face in this Latinx contenxt. She also distinguished herself from Cardi B by saying that Cardi has a different experience because she “popped up in the “American market.” Taken together, then, the exchange at the Breakfast Club indicates that it is insufficient to understand oppression as a one-dimensional experience. In order to have an accurate and nuanced understanding, one must often integrate multiple aspects of an individual’s identity in the contexts they occur. Intersectionality as an analytical method provides clarity whereas unidimensional analysis engenders misunderstanding by restricting what one sees.

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