Love & Hip Hop Atlanta: Racism, Colorism, and the Uncomfortable Truth
- Hey, y'all. It's Rasheeda here, and thank you for tuning in to the season finale of "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta." This season has been one of the wildest ones yet, even for me, child. We appreciate you, the audience, for always sticking beside us through the good, the bad, the ugly, and, of course, the messy. You saw and heard all of it, even Mena's use of a racial slur.
For her to blurt that out to Spice like she did, it was hurtful. We all know right from right and wrong from wrong. And for a person to say those things repeatedly, and then turn around and act as though it wasn't anything, is what really bothered me the most. We've been fighting for so many years, you guys, just to be treated as equal. And at this point, I think it's a great time to have a great conversation.
As a leading platform in popular culture, we have a responsibility to you, our audience. What you're about to watch is a roundtable anchored by Dr. Sarah Webb, founder and owner of Colorism Healing, alongside a few of my cast members. Unfortunately, I couldn't be present for this important roundtable.
But I am extremely happy that we're making this happen. So please take a moment to watch, listen, and, hopefully, learn what has been an important moment for "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta." ♪ ♪ - Welcome, everyone. We are here with some of the cast of "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta," for a candid conversation about the controversial events leading up to the season 11 finale. I am Dr. Sarah L. Webb, the founder of Colorism Healing,
which is a global initiative designed to raise awareness, shift attitudes, and take action to dismantle colorism around the globe. The use of racial slurs against a cast member on season 11 has sparked debate and controversy across the internet. MTV thought it was important for some of the cast to continue their conversation as well. We have Yandy, Spice-- - Hi. - Joc, Scrappy-- - What's happening? - Amy, and Sierra.
- Hey. - Yes. - First, I want to talk about bias and prejudice. This is what people most often talk about in these kind of conversations. So anyone can have a bias or a prejudice, where it's the belief that a group of people is inherently better or inferior than another group, right, solely based on their race or gender or ethnicity, right? But when we're talking about racism and colorism, we're talking about social systems that go far beyond an individual person's attitudes or opinions. And racism and colorism are about power. So when we have something like colonialism, Europeans, white people, white-identified people, wanting to hoard economic power, political power, and social power, right? And so racism is about the system that pushes white people to the top of that power hierarchy.
Colorism is a system in which even amongst us, as people of color, those with the lightest skin tones-- - Wow. - Get more preferential treatment and are propped up in society above those with darker skin tones. - Yes. - All right? And let's talk about Atlanta, the setting of all of this.
Atlanta is the Mecca of Black culture. Atlanta has a long history, generations of civil rights movements, of protests, right, of sit-ins. And so I'm wondering if you think that the location of where this conversation is happening makes it that much more pertinent. In Atlanta, for example, over the past recent years, we've had the deaths of people like Ahmaud Arbery-- - Yes. - Rayshard Brooks. And so your thoughts being local to this city, how does this setting of Atlanta really make this conversation that much more significant? - It's a Black city. - Yes. - You know what I'm saying? Like, I mean, as long as I done been living--you know, I done always been through some kind of racism.
- Though, like, the Confederate flag is still a thing in Atlanta. And that's something that bothers me so bad. Like, it irks my nerves. - I think I was, like, in first grade. And my grandma taught at school.
She taught at this school, Rockbridge Elementary. - Oh, I-- - Now, this was predominantly white. - Mm-hmm. - I ain't never seen all these white people before.
- Yeah. - It's a total change. Like-- - I went to school in Conyers, Georgia. My bus driver was--and Conyers is mostly white.
My bus driver would leave me almost every morning. - What? - Just leave me. - What do you mean? You was just late, Sierra. - No, I wasn't. No, I wasn't.
I was-- [interposing voices and laughter] Listen, my house was right in front of the school bus. The bus would come. They would open the door. The little white kids would get on the bus. And I'd come out of my house, you know, walking out.
Maybe I was walking, but she seen me. - Yeah. - And she would just pull off. - [laughs] - They was [bleep] with me. - They were. They were, right? - So what you're talking about is what people call "microaggressions"-- - Mm-hmm. - Yes.
- Where you're not using the n-word against me. - Yes. - You know, you're not calling me names-- - Thank you. Thank you. - Explicitly. But you're doing-- - Your actions. - Things, your actions, are trying to put me in a degrading position-- - Thank you. - To say, you are not important.
- Then she'd be like, come on. The white kids would just jump on the bus, and I would come out there with my little book bag. And, honey, she would just pull off, slamming-- I'm like, dang. - She was like, there's that little Black girl-- - Yeah. - On the bus. - Yeah, and those are different things that I remember, like, growing up in Atlanta.
- I think moving here, because I'm from Harlem, another Mecca of Black culture and creativity, I came with a-- you know what? I think I want to open up a restaurant. I want to open up a skincare store. I was able to own these different properties. But once it comes down to permitting, I have someone that is white that works on my team. Sending her in to get things done-- - Yep. - Happened--
- Easier. - so much quicker-- - Get used to that. Get used to that. - Than me doing it, although this is the Mecca of, you know, Black opportunities, resources.
So I think racism is everywhere. I think-- - Yeah. - The structural power is all over the United States. I mean, I'm saying the United States because that's where I'm from. But I think it's embedded in systems, no matter how much the state or the city appreciates what Black people brings, how much they idolize what we bring-- - Yeah. - How much they love our culture-- - Yeah.
- I don't think it's any different. - The Black we actually support, we spend the money. It's like, OK, I'ma let y'all spend the money, but I'm not gonna give you all that real respect. I walk into the bank, and I'm not respected at all until they log into my account. But I see-- - Yep. - But I see, you know, another race there next to me, and they're greeted. "How are you doing?"
And it's just they're looking at-- I don't get that respect. - So you all would say that even when Black people advance economically, we don't escape racism. - We don't escape. - Right, no, every day. - And then you think about histories of, like, the Tulsa Massacre, right, the race riots in Springfield, Illinois, sometimes, you become more of a target-- [all murmuring agreement] - The more success you have as a Black person.
- Yeah. - That's 24/7. - Yeah, anyway, yeah. - When I was selling one of my properties, my agent was like, you should kind of take some of this art down. You don't really want them to know the race of the house owner. Maybe you should change these pillows and these-- and I was just sitting there, thinking-- - Yeah. - It didn't make sense. You know, I actually had a white person come in to set it up like it was hers.
I felt like I saw a almost overnight thing. It was my first time being, like, dang, it's everywhere. - I call it "small city, big money." - Yeah. - Ran by the whites. - Mm. - I didn't get a chance to graduate high school, and I had a Caucasian lady tell me I was gonna be on welfare for the rest of my life.
And I looked at her like, who are you? Like, you're not God. But we need conversations like this to shake up the community to let them know, like, they can do it. That's why it's so important for me to use my voice. I feel like God put me on television not to be cute-- well, to look cute and wear my hair and stuff, but to actually open my mouth and say what needs to be said to the little girls that's looking up to me. - Yeah. And what about colorism? Have any of you seen it or experienced it yourself? - Well, I actually did a project on colorism in 2018, where I had to use makeup to make it seem like I had bleached my skin to appear lighter.
And so I went on a protest, and I did a whole, like, face. I think everybody at the table had a glimpse of it. And it was just my way of protesting to say, do I have to look like this to be more appreciated? And I did a song called "Black Hypocrisy" because I feel like there's a lot of hypocrisy within our Black community when it comes down to colorism as well. But as a darker-skinned Black woman, I sadly have experienced racism and colorism-- - Right, yes. - Majority of my life. - I experienced it.
- Yeah, absolutely. - Yeah, man. Remember when I pressed my hair? - Oh, yes. That's a part of colorism too. - No, see--no, see-- - Yes. - Because, look, Chris Brown did it. - Yeah. - He didn't catch the flack.
- Miguel did it. - Miguel did it. - Oh, yeah. - He didn't catch that flack. - They're lighter than you. - Lighter. [interposing voices] - They do it, but it's a problem when we do it. - Mm.
- Yeah, that's real. - But what it was is they was--they felt like the lighter complexion hair-- - And then there's the singers, and that looked like I'm trying to look more like them. - Yeah. - Yes. - And it's easily accepted because of their complexion already. - Yeah, exactly. - But you know what? I always thought that, like, men didn't get it as bad as women, because I got it, and I feel like I'm in the middle.
You know, women love a chocolate man. You know, I didn't know, so-- - But--but-- [interposing voices] - When it comes to relationships, probably. But what I've noticed-- - In phases.
- With browner-skinned men, they are more likely to get pulled over by the cops. - Yep. - Oh, yeah. - They are more likely to be found guilty before they're even tried to be proven guilty-- - Guilt by complexion. - Guilty, guilty by complexion.
- I think when it comes to society forms, like, it's very hard for Black men. - Yeah. - I think even-- sometimes darker-skinned, even sometimes harder than it is for us-- - Yeah. - And when it comes to society, getting a job, walking in-- - Yes. - To, you know, to a restaurant, walking into a store. - Walking into a bank.
- Into a bank. - Yes. - Trying to get a house. - Yes. - We want to zoom in a little bit to the incident that, you know, incited this roundtable, where Erica Mena used a racial slur against Spice. - Oh, my God. I wouldn't know what would happen to me if something happens to Spice. And I said, well, damn, I was your wife, pregnant, almost lost my life and our baby.
In a really dark time, I was in the hospital, which the whole world saw. - But why did you feel the need to compare us, though? Because at the time-- - Any woman would have. - Why? Why would you compare? - You're friends, and he felt that way. I was his wife, and he felt nothing.
- That don't have nothing to do with me if he felt nothing for you. Like, so it's just confusing, like-- - So you're telling me-- if you were in my shoes, you're telling me you wouldn't feel no type of way as a woman? - What do you mean if I was in your shoes? In what way? - If you were me. - Your problem is, Erica, you feel like you're the first woman to be divorced. That's the problem. - Really? - I feel like you're acting like you're the first woman to be divorced, and you're the first woman that's left with two children to fend for.
I've been doing it for 14 years. Welcome to the club. - Girl, I've been doing it for 16. - OK? - 16. - OK, with your son that don't like you. My son loves me.
- How do you know about my son? - Stop always making it about you. - How do you know-- - That's what I'm talking. - About my son? - You said [bleep], right? - That's what you said. - Bitch, [bleep].
- You started a conversation and say, look-- [dinnerware clattering] [both arguing] - [inaudible] about my son? You don't know about my [bleep] son, bitch! - I don't believe y'all just [bleep]-- - No! - No. [both arguing] - Don't call me a bitch! [arguing] - Why the [bleep] did y'all do that? - [bleep]. [arguing continues] - That bitch should have died! You want to mention my kid? You should have died, bitch! You monkey! You [bleep] blue monkey! - Mm. - Safaree is your karma, bitch! - You should have [bleep] died, ho! - Serve you right, Safaree's your karma, bitch! And now we [bleep] [inaudible] like [bleep] girls. You piece of trash. - You [bleep] monkey. - Erica, get in the car.
- [imitates monkey noises] - Mm. - Yo, I hate everybody [inaudible] [bleep]. Now let me out. - Man, I don't believe this [bleep]. - That was terrible. - It makes my blood boil.
- It gives me the chills every time I watch it. - It makes my head hurt and my blood boil. Like, the audacity to be so immersed in our culture, love our men-- - Oh. - Want Black children, proud of it, but can sit there and call a Black person, not just a Black woman, a monkey, make monkey gestures, make monkey sounds. - That's exactly what I want to talk about, is the history of that word. - Mm-hmm. - Why it's so painful, why it's so hurtful.
And I also want to give Spice a chance to react to that-- - Yeah. - Because I saw that you were very emotional just having to replay that. - I done read in books, you know what I'm saying? I done seen it, where they done put, like, real, like, a human being, a Black human being, in a zoo and chained them up and treated them just like a monkey-- - Mm. - And dressed them up and everything, had people come pay to just look at them. When that-- something like that is said and, like, the way she said it, that's all I can think about. - [scoffs] I wanted to calm down first to kind of get over the situation.
But I also want to take this opportunity to just educate because I feel like a lot of Black people, they do not know-- - Yes. - The depth. - Yes, yes. - And so even, sometimes, when I see the comments, I know that it's coming from an ignorant place. And I know that it's coming from a place where they themselves do not understand-- - Right.
- That our ancestors died, fought for our freedom, for our rights to even be here to have a voice. - When I heard what happened from Rasheeda, I was taken aback at first when Rasheeda said, you know, her child was mentioned. So she reacted.
And I was like, you know, I had to be real. I'm a flawed human being. And I remember when my child was mentioned on a reunion show.
I got up, and I was ready to fight. Then my next reaction was, but why you went to a racial slur? And then I started to think, like, dag, is she a racist? Like, what's that about? And I'm like, I got to talk to her. I don't think she's a racist. Like, I've spoken to her. So my first reaction was, nah, she's not a racist. She doesn't know what that term means.
She's not educated about the violence that has for our community. I know that she doesn't know what this means for our history and our people. - I want to be in the space where Yandy is and say she don't know that, but I'm not going, because I know she's culturally aware-- too immersed in our culture to not know, because if you tell me you don't know, I'm gonna look at you sideways because you know too much more about too much other stuff. - You know everything else.
- You can't have what my father would say-- "convenient amnesia." - Mm-hmm. - You use it conveniently. Oh, I didn't know. No, you knew. - You knew. - And when I know that you know, it's a slap in the face to pretend as if you don't. - I ain't never had seen it like how you-- I ain't never had seen it. - I didn't either, because I was coming from a different place first.
- So when I seen the little thing saying, oh, they've been fired and stuff, like, that was-- - 'Cause your first lie was kind of-- I was like-- - We all were. I said-- - But then you came back after--he did his research-- - No. No, no. - And educated on it. - I was so mad about that live. - We actually have clips of your live stream. - How I feel about Erica getting fired? I don't know if that's real. I don't know if that's real.
I mean, I think that's pretty... bozo for them to fire somebody. And I don't mean [bleep]. I don't [bleep] at all, like, at all. They can fire me. They know that. - Uh-uh. - I was drunk.
- I was drunk. - He said I was drunk. - When you said that, I said this [bleep] tripping. - I did not mean the words that I-- [laughter] I did not know the gravity-- - The gravity! - Of what was-- - That's what [inaudible]-- - That was coming out of my mouth. - No. - Damn.
OK, let's watch the other one where he went to a whole other location, though, changed his T-shirt, started drinking some water-- - [inaudible] behind him. - Erica Mena was wrong. [laughter] Erica Mena was wrong. - He said, "Erica Mena was wrong." - Whatever, you know what I'm saying? The colorism is real. We do know that.
Racism is real. We do know that. - See, what had happened was I ain't had seen it. - You didn't see it. - But I've never seen you react and say nothing. [interposing voices] - No, so I'm looking at it like, they two women, they probably just was, aah, you know what I'm saying? They just was like that.
But then, when I seen it, I was like, wow, no. Like, the way she said it, it was, like, real, like-- - Intentional and deliberate. - It was like-- - It came from the gut. - The core. - It came from the gut, like-- - It came from the core.
- I'm talking about, like, [bleep] you. - That's what made me change my mind when I seen it. I'm like, ooh, I was like-- - And she said the hee-hee-ha-ha. I was like, whoa.
- Yeah, because I've been really quiet-- not really--I told her how I felt about it. I told her--I was like, you wrong. - The term "monkey" was systematically used to dehumanize the whole Black race. - Mm. - It was shocking coming from someone that I know. But I have received racism almost all my life.
So being in a racism situation is not new to me. However, since I'm the one in the hot seat, and the whole situation stirred from me and her having a discussion, I vividly want to point out and make sure that everyone is aware that I did not come for her child. A lot of people are saying, you brought up the child or whatever it is.
She brought up her own son. And so when she brought up her son, I replied and said, so the son that doesn't like you? Because I want it to be clear. Some people were saying they feel like I should be fired, too, for coming for Erica's parenting.
On "Love & Hip Hop's" show itself and its franchise, there are so many different occasions where people came for-- - Parenting. - People's parenting. - As we all do, right? - I said that's-- [interposing voices] - But Scrap came for her parenting, too. - When you're a wife, why they can't ride for you? - I rode. - So is that why you don't want to pay child support? - Oh, my God. Hey, what about your son? - What about my son? - Your only son.
- You're acting like you know something. - Because I know something about your son. - Scrap, you ride for this. You ride for this. - A lot of people came for her parenting on "Love & Hip Hop."
Let's be very clear now. She choose to call me a monkey, and that's crappy. You ask her where's your son when she decided, oh, Scrappy is a deadbeat. Scrappy was like, listen, let me worry about mine.
Where's your son? Scrappy did not become a monkey. - Yep. - My whole takeaway is tying back to the color of my skin makes me seem like, oh, the aggressor or whatever. Because I'm of a darker skin tone, they painted me now to be the angry Black woman.
I can take full accountability for coming for her parenting. Her reply could have been a million other words that's in her vocabulary. Why a racial slur? She decided to go the racism route.
When I received that racism from someone that I know, it was a shocker. So for someone to say it to your face, you're like, oh, my God. This is who she are. I feel like I left that situation the winner because I revealed a racist. And I don't care what nobody else want to say.
A racist was revealed. - Mm-hmm. - So 400 years ago, our slave masters would call us monkeys to categorize us, to dehumanize us. So it was a tactic to justify racism. - Yes. - So it was a tactic used to justify racism to make us seem as we're primates.
- Primates, yeah. - Yes. - And so this is a deeply-rooted slur that has nothing to do with me. It goes way-- - History attached. - The history, the burden, the blood-- - Mm-hmm. - The blood. - The slashes-- - Right, girl. - The tears and the fights and everything is attached to this word. - Yeah.
- I went to Ghana, and I went to the slave dungeons. When I say the realization of how they thought we did not matter, we were less than humans, we were people that needed to be in captivity, that needed to be chained by our ankles, chained by our hands-- and even being when I stood in that slave dungeon, when you walk from the outside of the dungeon to the inside of the dungeon, you can feel, like, the stickiness of the bottom of the floor. And I remember asking, why does the floor feel like this? It felt waxy and sticky. And they said, that is the remains of your ancestors that did not make it. - Yes.
- It wasn't about looking and dehumanizing to make you feel like an animal. In that moment, you were less than an animal. We don't even treat dogs like that. When they fed us in the slave dungeons, they would throw pieces of bread and meat through a little hole. And literally, the-- only the survivor, the stronger ones-- - They had to fight over it. - Could get to the food.
So you had to literally step on people. - Like a monkey. - Step on--no, like the crab in a barrel. There's so much about this society. There's so much about the way we are-- - It's in our DNA. It's in our DNA.
- That is built into who we are. - Exactly. - That started 400 years ago. - Yes.
- Like, we had to climb on top of each other's back to get the food that they dropped down at the slave dungeons. So the weak ones, they didn't eat. The weak ones died. And then guess what? We're stepping on them. - We're stepping on them.
- We're stepping on them. - I went to one in Calabar. It was definitely tension there. - So I want to read a quote by Thomas Jefferson.
- Mm. - So the person on your currency said this. "The first difference which strikes us is that of color." OK, so notice how he nitpicks the features, right? "And is this difference of no importance? "Is it not the foundation of a greater or less share "of beauty in the two races? Add to these flowing hair, a more elegant symmetry of form, their own judgment in favor of the whites declared by their preference of them, as uniformly as the preference for the orangutan for the Black woman over those of his own species. The circumstances of superior beauty is thought worthy of attention in the propagation of our horses, dogs, and other domestic animals.
Why not in that of man? Besides those of color, figure, and hair, there are other physical distinctions proving a difference of race." OK? And so this is what one of the founding fathers of this country-- this is the ideology, the narrative, right, that we now know are lies. But that was belief taken as fact that is what this country was founded on, right? And so when we talk about why these words matter, and when we talk about racism versus colorism, we see that those things are intimately intertwined-- - Yep. - Where I call racism and colorism like fire and smoke. Where there's one, you're gonna see the other. They're not the same thing, but they always like to tag team, right? So here he's talking about how do we know that there's a difference in race? Well, let's start by looking at color, right? Let's start by looking at the hair.
- Me, I'm Black. But I have nieces and nephews who are half Puerto Rican and half Black. And the Black women come up and say, is this your nephew? Is this your niece? They're so pretty. And they only say it to my half Puerto Rican nieces. It just made my blood boil so bad because from a aunt perspective, I looked at my nieces. The full Black ones, they look like me.
And they are just standing there because she's used to her little sister getting the praise. And I told the Black lady, I said, you don't see all my Black nieces here? They're all beautiful. She's like... [gasps] Yes, they are. And I'm looking at her like, what is wrong-- what is--how can we fix this? - Yeah.
- This was a Black woman, though. It's so deep to the self-hatred that they instilled in us to feeling like lighter is brighter, is better. - Or more beautiful. - So do you all think that what happened with Erica Mena was an instance of racism or colorism or both? What are your thoughts? - Both. - I think she has been told-- I don't know her personally, but I know from experience that I think that she has been told her entire life that you look better than Black women-- - Was more beautiful. - Feature-wise. Your hair is better. Your skin is better. - It's a thing.
- When you're allowed into a culture, you're allowed to live amongst the culture-- - Say the same things. - Breathe it. - And camouflage in. - Well, you got to respect the culture.
- Right, right, right. - Respect it. - But listen. But somewhere in there, when you start feeling-- - Superior. - That you're not necessarily superior-- - Let me finish. - It's more like-- - No, it is the word.
- Because when you said "camouflage," kind of like you camouflage it, I'm like, you're almost like, you know. - Mm-hmm. - Right. - Yeah. - I'm a minority, too. - Mm-hmm.
- And she even said that. - That's what she said. - Right? - Yeah. - On the colorism side, or the concept of what people may feel preference may be, when it comes to Black men, a lot of cats is always using that term, I want something foreign, I want this and the other Spanish chick-- - Red, I want some red. - They start--it would make somebody feel like they are-- - They're better. - Better because your man is sitting here, putting this in the song. Listen to the music. - Yes. - Listen to the songs.
So somewhere in there, you got to-- when you use the term "systemic," it's not always just coming from a outside source. - No, it be-- - It's adding to the whole systemic breakdown. - But this is the thing. Nowhere in our culture-- if I sit at a table with you, if I see the culture, and I'm across from people of Hispanic background, we might say to each other, child, [bleep], please. Like--and it's accepted amongst us. Even if you're immersed in Black culture-- - Yeah.
- That is accepted to a certain extent. We ain't never, ever be like, ha-ha-ha, monkey, please. We don't do that. That is not something that is accepted in our culture, whether you're immersed-- - So it's not as bad? - The reason it doesn't have-- - The n-word is-- - The same implications if I say it because we've gotten to a place-- - And it doesn't have the same implications. - We've gotten to a place-- - I don't give a damn what [bleep]. - So what Yandy is trying to say is that regardless of whether you think the n-word is bad or not, it is accepted as a part of Black culture. - Yeah.
- But the word "monkey" has never been-- - Never been. - Accepted. - We've never found that funny. [interposing voices] - It's never been accepted. - Let me finish the point.
So what you were saying about, you know, non-Black people who are a part of the culture, who are accepted into the culture-- - You should know better. - They can't claim that for why they use the term. - No. - No. - Because we don't play like that.
- It shouldn't be allowed in no kind of way. - But there are blurred lines. - In no kind-- it ain't to me. - There are blurred. - I mean-- - There are blurred lines. - But you got to think, though-- - There are blurred lines. - In the past, it wasn't.
When you go back, it wasn't blurred. It was, this is what it is, you is, and I'm who I am. And you keep that some kind of way. They blurred it. It wasn't always like that. - I'm not gonna lie. I didn't know it was blurred until I went to New York.
When I went to New York, that stuck because the people-- the different races in Atlanta can't say [bleep] around us. - Yeah, yeah. - But when I went to New York, and I was like, how he saying that? - Yeah. - He about to get his ass-- - But I grew amongst Latinas, Latinos.
And that is something that we've blurred the line. But even in that, right-- - Well, see, we just been Black and white. - If you're around different-- - Yeah, that's it.
- But if you come, and you're a different nationality, and you're a different race, and you say that word to a different group of people that ain't used to it, you come to Atlanta, and you're Puerto Rican and you be like, [bleep], please, they might not receive you. You've crossed the line with them. - But I also want to acknowledge your perspective, Scrappy, because if we're making the argument that the historical harm of a word means it's off limits, then that's where your argument is coming from, right? - Yeah. - So just like the word "monkey" is off-limits because of that historical harm, the degradation, and the violence-- - Yeah. - That it led to, the n-word has also-- - Yeah. - Caused the same degree-- - I thought they're supposed to be equal.
- No, [bleep], they ain't. Oh, excuse my language. - No, he talking about-- - I'm talking about the word. - Hold on, wait. - They are. - No, he-- - They're definitely not the same.
- I feel like a racial slur-- - Joc, you playing. - Anybody who say the n-word-- - How? - And the monkey. - It's not the same? - Because it was used-- - Can I get a consensus? - To categorize us as slaves, and-- - Let's get a consensus at the table. - I feel like a racial slur is just a racial slur. - And so that's the question, too.
If we let certain things slide, do we then say, well, if you let that slip, then why not let the word "monkey" slip, right? And so maybe we do gatekeep the culture a little bit more. And so we also have the element of the color blue and purple, colors like--even when we use the word "Black" as an insult, right? So we're talking, oh, Black pride. We're so proud to be Black. I love being Black.
And yet how often have we heard growing up, and even to this day, Black being used as an insult? All right? - All the time. - Yeah. - Sit your Black self down. - All the time. I've heard it all my life.
- You're so Black, you disappear-- - My nickname was Blackie. My nickname growing up as a child was Blackie. My complexion is not an insult. - Right. - I'm proud of who I am.
I'm a beautiful woman. - Yes. - And I hate when people say, oh, you're so pretty for a Black girl. Take the word "Black" out of it. I'm a beautiful woman, and I'm proud of who I am.
Like me say, I'm proud of my color, I'm not bleach. - Hey. - Yeah. Yep, yep. - So the complexion that I have has always been a target as they think to use to insult me. - Erica, she said, I have Black children, and I have Black skin. - That doesn't make you--
- I have a Black husband. - That doesn't mean-- - That doesn't mean anything. - That you're not racist. - OK. - And it doesn't mean that you're not a colorist.
So I think sometimes people-- that's the go-to for someone that is a racist. "I got Black friends. How can I be a racist?" - You can be a racist.
- You might like a Black person. - Yes. - It doesn't mean that you won't-- - You're a Black person. - You won't use your power to degrade the race. And sometimes people get mixed up with fetish, Black fetish.
- That's what-- - And also, I like the fact that my babies will be brown-skinned. - Yes. - They go to tanning salons all the time to be brown anyway. - That does not mean you are not racist. [interposing voices] - But hold on. They don't want them too Black, though.
They don't want them to come out too Black. - Oh, no. - They'll go in the tanning salon and the sprays and get too Black. - Yeah.
- All the time. They'll even braid their hair with coarse, thick-- you know. And it goes from not just wanting and fetishizing our culture. Then it's cultural appropriation where it's like, you know, I did it. I created the cornrows.
And now it's right. Now it's great. When we are told, you can't come to work like that, but when another ethnicity of, you know, "superiority--" - It's OK. - [inaudible] more appealing. - It's more appealing.
Now it's acceptable. - Yes. - So I got a question. I got a question. So what is it called when Black women walk around with this straight hair or these-- - Because I can change-- I can change-- - It's called fashion. - Yeah. - It's an add-on like y'all tattoos. - So I'll tell you why I think it's different.
- So that's not appropriation? - It depends on how the person is using it. Some Black women do not love themself the way they are. And I can take, for example, not every Black woman would proudly wear their natural hair, like this beautiful woman sitting right here, because they have a lot of self-hate. They don't love themselves enough to wear their natural hair. So they feel like the add-ons and the thing makes them look better or whatever the case may be.
- Because society shows them that the key to hearing pretty-- - Some of us, I've seen Sierra take her wig off and go around with her natural hair. I take my wig off all the time. I'm just always performing. I like--mine's blue. So that's the persona that I created as Spice. But I love myself in my natural form.
- Spice, do you feel like that's self-hate or with a society-made feel? There are women who feel that way. - Society will make you feel that way because in Jamaica, for example, where I come from-- everywhere, people bleach their skin and alter their appearance. - That's the answer to Joc's question, though, and why, you know, when Black women wear their hair straight-- - That's just considered colorism? - It's different than when people who are not Black wear our hairstyles and act like they invented it, right? Because they're doing it because, oh, it's trendy. Oh, it's cute. I can be popular. I can come up, right? Black women have done it historically because it was the only way to get hired because people would not treat us fairly-- - Is it still that way? - Because of the discrimination. - Still that way? Absolutely.
- So the CROWN Act-- - I'm not a Black woman. - So they actually had to pass policies so that Black women-- and all Black people, to be honest--don't face hair discrimination at work. - The CROWN Act. - So-- - Don't get fired or get suspended from school or sent--or told they can't walk across the stage or participate in a wrestling match because they have locs, because they have natural hair, right? And so white people have never faced that discrimination, regardless of how they wear their hair. - They do that in Black schools.
- Yes, right. - I'll be--when I hear, like-- - That's crazy. - Like, when I see a beautiful Black woman, right, of color, OK, and then I look around, and then it's past the hair, now you're contouring y'all noses to look like you're more European. And I'd be lost with that a little bit. I ain't gonna kick it. - Yeah, yeah.
- Let me get directly to it because I feel like we internalize racism as well. If I did not come here with this hair that does not belong to me, and I wore my natural hair, my same people, the Black people, would comment so negatively-- - Yes, this is true. - About me. Why she couldn't do her hair? - This is so true. - Why she couldn't fix up herself? Why is she never [inaudible]? - The Black man is sitting here saying, yo, I want this complexion. I want this foreign chick. Then y'all sitting here-- and please don't beat me up, y'all.
But y'all are sitting here, every day, embellishing yourself to look closer to that, what your man is saying he want. So the woman who got these things your man said he want, she's getting put in these videos. She's getting the front seat for the look. Naturally, do you think she's gonna feel like she looks better or is more superior-- - But that she does-- - Than you? You let people into your culture so much. And they start looking at everything you got going on.
And they start realizing, like, well, [bleep]. - They try and look like me. - They're trying to look like us. - I think with the lip injections, with the tans, I think when you're immersed with a culture-- - Y'all just-- - That's Black.
- I also am like, no, because you got to understand-- - Yeah, it's just like they do like this. - These girls are trying to look like us. - Absolutely. - I want it to be very clear. - Where in Black History did we get confused that we're trying to look like that? When we look and take the original face and shape, and then I look at my auntie, my granny, my mama, our slave-- all of them, I'm like, you bought them lips, not trying look like a white woman.
- I'm looking at the lips at the table. I'm just saying you didn't buy those lips to look like-- - I think it happens-- - Sarah. You bought her to look like Keisha. - Yeah. Like, I didn't buy these--
- Gotta look good, you said. - I didn't buy these lips to look like Sarah. I bought these lips to look like goddamn Spice and-- - [inaudible]. - And you.
- But we have this confusion in the Black community that Black women are trying to be European. But I'm sitting here saying-- - No, we ain't. - Look at Queen Nefi. Look at it. The jewelry, the hair clips-- she was on the same tips. - No, but Black women are the ones with the lips. Let's be very clear.
- Like Spice has also said, is that there are Black people who don't like the way they look-- - Yes. [all agreeing] - Who think the European look is better. - And the system creates that place for them to feel inferior-- - Exactly. - As well. [all agreeing]
- So also, because we're talking about racism, that is one of the tools of racism is to try to make us hate ourselves. So when we talk about-- - Yes. - When we talk about internalized hatred for ourselves-- - Oh, my God. - They purposely implanted those ideas in us because they knew that they could dominate us. - For real. - If we are fighting amongst ourselves, if we are hating ourselves-- it's easier to marginalize us.
So let's talk a little bit more about the overlap or the blurring of the lines between the Latinx community, the various Black communities across the diaspora. You all have already started to touch on that a little bit. - Mm-hmm. - So I want to know, what's your understanding of a racial identity versus your ethnic identity, right? Because a lot of times, we confuse race and ethnicity, right? Race has a lot to do with your ancestry and your phenotype, whereas ethnicity takes into account your culture. And so can you be Black and Puerto Rican? Are there Puerto Ricans who also identify as Black? - Absolutely. - Right. - Absolutely.
- Because there's African Americans. - Right. - I mean, Black Americans. - Right. - White Americans. You got Black Puerto Ricans.
- When your mama Black or your daddy Black-- - Yeah, you're Black. - And then, sometimes, when it comes to race people opt in or they opt out. - Or they opt out, yep. - Sometimes, people say, I'm a Afro-Latina, proudly. And then, other times, people say I am Puerto Rican and Dominican.
And they do not necessarily identify with the African side of their history. - Oh. - And so where do you think that comes from, when people distance themselves or when people deny African ancestry, or when people, even if they look-- - Crazy. - Black, they try to say, oh, no, I'm not Black-- - They look delusional. - It's crazy. - Where do you think that comes from? - System. - Yeah. - Systematically. - People.
- Every single thing about the American society-- we get paid less. The lighter you are, the more you make. Even if there are identical educational backgrounds, if two people walk in to get a job, and I'm browner and you're lighter, there is a higher percentage that you'll get more money. - Yeah. - If I'm driving here and you're driving there, we're both tied up at the light, it's more likely for the darker person to get pulled over by the cop and to be harassed-- - That's why I said system. - Than anything else.
So in this society, absolutely, it takes off a bit of pressure and a bit of oppression to say, I'm not Black, because you get to reap the privileges and the benefits of being that other, whatever that other thing that is-- - That's true. - You're not hated. - We're a visible society. When you look at me, I can't take off my Blackness. - Me neither. - You look at me, you're gonna see that I'm Black. I live in it, and I got to own that and everything that comes with that.
- You know, we know it's not-- it's never all of any group, right? - Yeah, it's never all. - When it becomes a pattern, right, then we still have to address it. - Yes, yes. - And that brings up the idea of desirability, right, and who's considered desirable in media. You talked about it already in the music lyrics and the music videos, right, how the lighter-skinned girls or the racially-ambiguous girls, ones with the lighter skin tones, the wavy hair-- - Yeah.
- Are seen as the love interests, are seen as the ones that all the guys are falling in love with and chasing. And sometimes, you don't even see dark skin [inaudible]. - I see a lot of brown skin. - It is changing. - I have a light complexion. My baby girls is light.
And I feel like I have seen some lighter-complexion women be like, well, dark-skinned women get this. They get this right here. They look at us and be like, oh, we're too light or something like that. - But it's still because of how we were raised, though, in some type of way.
- Because so much of us here of color is at the table when we speak on colorism, light-skinned people also receive-- - Yeah. - Colorism. And I feel like that's something we also need to point out and not just make it seem like it's just us. - Right. - I have light-skinned friends who have also received colorism. - I have to chime in here.
If someone is prejudiced against a light-skinned woman, does that equal a social system and where that light-skinned woman is demeaned or degraded placed beneath darker-skinned people? - No. - No. - Right. - And so those women are still not systemically placed beneath darker-skinned women. They're still systemically-- - No, they're not. - Elevated, systemically propped up.
- Even in my life-- - I'm so glad you brought up. - Absolutely. - Because people don't know that even within the race, even amongst Black people, there's income inequality. There's educational inequality-- - Yes. - Even amongst Black people because of the same-- - But do they know it though? But do they know it though? - A lot of people don't.
I also have to say in order for those lighter-skinned and mulatto women to exist, they have to first rape dark-skinned, nonmixed Black women. And so all of us have experienced that type of violence. - Yes, indeed. - All of us have been-- - You didn't know that? - No, no, no. I didn't even think that deep. - It came down to-- - Yeah. - Amy, we know that you have another engagement.
So we are-- - I don't want to leave, but-- - So appreciative of the contributions you've made to the conversation so far, but-- - Yes. - Yes. - I just wanted to say one thing to you, Spice. When they attack one, they attack all. - Yes. - It's time for us to lift up and say, hey, no.
I just wanted to say that to you for real. - Yes, girl. [clapping] - We love you, Amy. - I love you, sis. - I got you. - So we left off talking about what happens when we see the harm, when we see the racial slurs and how people are held accountable.
I know, Yandy, you mentioned a moment where you tried to confront Erica and hold her accountable. We're gonna take a look at that clip right now. - Calling a Black person a monkey? Listen, I was offended. - You was offended? Because you chose to be offended, Yandy. - I was offended because-- - Because you know me. No one's going to violate me using my child.
- It's not about violating-- - There's no boundaries at that point. - Listen. - Once you cross that line-- - You cannot cross a racial boundary. - I even told her she should have died on that table. - Listen. But what you said to her--
- And what she said to me-- - When you called her a monkey, you insulted every person of African descent. - No. It's you guys that want to be offended by it. - Erica, you think I want to be-- I wanted to be offended by 400 years of slavery? - You obviously do. - The reason why I have-- - It's 2023. - Yes. - Why as-- - And this is the thing.
- Minorities are we comparing ourselves to something that-- - The problem--Erica, this is the problem. And that's what I want to know. And this is exactly why I wanted to have the conversation with you. I hated every single thing about that scene. And I went in there so humble, like, really trying to be a friend and educate her in this moment. It was like the Montgomery brawl.
When she said "monkey," it was like she threw up the white hat. Like, you summoned every Black person in the community when you called Spice a monkey. But I wanted to educate her as to what this means for me because I went in there really thinking she just used that term unknowingly. She probably has implicit bias, but she's not a racist.
And I remember, you know, Rasheeda and Kirk was there as well. And there was a conversation where she was trying to say, well, I did this because she insulted my mother. And then she said, and I'll do it again.
- The bitch crossed a line. She violated me by coming for my son. And I will do it all over the [bleep] again if she does it again. It's just point-blank, period.
You're not gonna violate me using my kid in any type of way. - So you're saying you would do-- - So it is what it is. - You would say the same thing all over again? - I didn't say I would say the same thing. If I have to violate this bitch for talking about my kid, I will. - OK. - Rasheeda, me and her both just left feeling like, dang.
- You just got to take full accountability for your actions. If you did wrong, just say sorry, bottom line. - Well, I don't know, man. - Yeah, I don't know. I don't know. - I'm different. - I don't really agree with that either.
I just feel like there's so much performative apologizing where it's just like, oh, my gosh, I'm so sorry for what I did, and I'm gonna use my platform-- - But mean it, though, no. - To racially educate. And I believe in inclusivity. - Sound like a PR.
- It sounds like a publicist wrote that for you, and you did that because you're losing jobs or because the world has canceled you. - So I'm gonna read the apology. She said, "I deeply regret my insensitive comment "and want to humbly apologize to anybody I hurt or offended "by my thoughtlessness. "My choice of words was wrong, "and I take full responsibility for what I said. "I am committed to listening to the voices of those affected "and will work toward making amends.
"As a woman of color and the mother of two Black children, "I want to make it clear that my use of the word "was not in any way racially driven. "That said, I do understand the gravity "of what I said and want to use my platform to promote inclusivity and equality." So, Spice, as the person who received the racial slur, it's important to understand how you would have liked the situation to be handled.
What does accountability look like for you? - I take accountability for coming for Erica's parenting. But it doesn't sound to me like she wants to take accountability for being a racist or using a racial slur. So I can't trigger you to be a racist.
You can't trigger someone to be a racist. - Mm. - And so for the people who wants to make it seem like they want me to take accountability for Erica's choice of words, I will not take accountability for that.
Even in her apology, she did not-- - She did not say Spice's name. [bleep] everybody else. - So that's my next question. - You're talking to her like-- - So--and-- - Does she owe Spice an apology? - And even in the apology, she said, but I'm not a racist, or, I'm not this. And I didn't use--so, OK, why did you use the slur? What's your definition, then, of using a racial slur? - Do you want an apology, and do you think you're owed one? - I don't. I know it's not gonna come from a place of sorry.
You can't just apologize because your pocket is being affected. You got to really mean it. - Every other group that has been a part of this network, that has been a part of television, you say something about-- - Them. - Don't say it, but-- - You say something about a particular religious group-- - Yes. - And they go crazy.
- Instantly, you are fired. - Yes. Yes. - Far too often, you speak about Black people, and there is no accountability, and nothing happens. - We don't even do it. - We don't even do it. I've seen other races get attacked, and they got fired immediately. And in this particular show, this is rooted, deep rooted, in Black culture.
- Black culture. - How dare you disrespect Black culture and not be held accountable with the loss of income? - All right. So I want to reiterate for us and for the audience as well the difference between racism and colorism, but also their importance, right? And so we know that racism is a system of economic, social, and political power, right, that has elevated white people to the top of the hierarchy and has simultaneously pushed Black folks to the bottom of that hierarchy, right?-- not by accident--and that colorism plays in tandem with racism where, even if we are all Black, if you have more Eurocentric appearances, if you have lighter skin, you're still given greater status and opportunity in the larger society. - Mm-hmm. - One thing I want to say too is that when it comes to something like racism and colorism, most people know about racial inequalities, right? But in terms of colorism, there's also systemic inequality, discrimination, and oppression that darker-skinned people in our race also face.
- Mm-hmm. - And so we can't address racism unless we also address colorism within our communities as well as without our communities. - Yes. - So in the season finale, we see a moment of conflict between Spice and Karlie. [both arguing] - What the-- - Whoa, whoa, whoa. - Some people are, perhaps, through the lens of colorism, because of their own colorist biases, unfairly judging the way Spice acted on the season relative to lighter-skinned castmates who might have also been, you know, aggressive to different people.
And so do you all think that colorism played a big part in the way people are receiving and commenting about that particular episode? - 'Cause I was reading the comments, and when I was seeing different people saying, Spice, you're so mean, look at her, I don't know what got into her, it's just like, OK, y'all doing this because she dark-skinned. That's exactly what it is-- bottom line. I've been aggressive.
Other women have been aggressive. They weren't going in on me like that. They wasn't going in on other people like they-- they're, like, overgoing in on you, and I just-- I believe, because you're darker skin-- complected. - Absolutely. I think that so many times, when we show-- express emotion or show anger, we are labeled as "angry Black women." And with that "angry Black women" comes the threat of, oh, my God. She is so aggressive.
Many of you have seen lighter-skinned women attack a whole cast of people. - Yeah. - I've seen a lighter-skinned woman on this show attack another woman while she was down on the floor, kicking her in her crotch. All instances are wrong. But you cannot create this conversation around the fact that, oh, Spice is being so aggressive because she's dark-skinned. - Yeah.
- I would say this is more aggressive than I've ever seen you. And I know that it comes on the heels of so many things that you've been through leading up to that moment. But that doesn't make me think you are an aggressive person, and I will not ever think that all dark-skinned women are angry, mean, and aggressive.
- I have been pretty aggressive this season. Um... again, I feel like it stems from a lot of things, a lot of hurt, a lot of pain, a lot of anger inside.
I'm gonna leave this table to work on myself, to heal. I have had a traumatic experience as well. With Karlie's situation, because that's what we ended with, it comes from a place of every time I love someone... [voice cracking] They hurt me or betray me. And I think I sometimes make my anger get the best of me.
And I just got to work on myself and take accountability for being angry because I'm so hurting. I don't want to blame it on colorism, because I do know that a lot of people instill a lot of things on me because of my color. So I'm already guilty based on anything. And so I take full accountability for being a little hurt and angry this season.
But I'm going to work on that and work on myself. And I know I'm going to heal and, um, take away a lot from everything. - Mm-hmm. - Yes. - But I'll work on myself. I started my journey, and I know I'll overcome. - Mm-hmm. - Thank you so much.
- I'm sorry that I cried, but it connected, connected. - Love you, Spicy. - [laughs] So how can we, as a collective, elevate beyond hurtful words, beyond the fighting, beyond the circumstances that have brought us here today? What are your takeaways in terms of how we elevate and grow beyond this? - Seek help. - We just got to be-- - Mental help. - We got to really, like, use our platforms like Yandy has been doing for years.
When I talk about my testimony of how I had my daughter at 15, look how many followings it brung in. And I made it out of debt and made millions of dollars. And look how much success and young girls look up to me from just that story. What if I use my platform and talk about this stuff that's going on? That's what we got to do. - Yeah.
I think we also have to take an active role in stopping the systems that promote racism and colorism. I think all of us have influence. All of us have some sort of privilege where we're celebrities and we have a voice and we have impact. But so often, we stay silent on issues.
We'll see things happen in the workplace. We won't speak on it. But we have the ability to create change. And I think, once we start in our houses, then it goes to our neighborhoods. Then, from our neighborhoods, it goes to our communities.
And eventually, it will hit the nation. But I think we have to take an active stance on breaking down these systems that promote racism. - I agree. - Yeah.
- As far as stepping up to the plate, holding people accountable, standing on your square-- because I ain't going to lie. Sometimes, people are like, man, it wasn't that serious, man. - Yes, it was. - A whole other race or religious group or just group of people who stand for one another-- they're not hearing that bad. - No. - They're hearing-- - What it was. - What it was.
- What it was and what it did. - Yeah. - Thank you all so, so much for your insightful comments. I'm so glad I got to sit down with all of you. This has allowed us to start to unpack a larger conversation.
- Absolutely. - Like you're saying, it has to be an ongoing conversation. I don't want anyone to think that the hour we're sitting here is gonna be the final conversation. - Right. - And so this is an opportunity for us to say, here's an instance of a much larger problem. - Absolutely. - Right?
And so when it comes to things like racism and colorism, they are so complex that it's not gonna be solved overnight. But it's important to start, also starting to do the internal work of, where am I biased? Where have I caused people harm? And am I willing to be held accountable for that if I actually care to start to create change, right-- whether it's using your platform or your resources or your skills or your talents to pour back into young Black children and start to break the generational cycles, right? And so I hope that the folks who are watching are inspired by the cast that you are fans of to have conversations li