As Posted On VIBE.com
Love & Hip Hop Season 4 Cast Race Answers
VIBE has an upcoming Race issue coming up. What was the first time you were aware of what racism was?
Nya Lee: I think it’s stupid, I’m so mad that it still exists, but it does. You have to be very careful about what you say because, even me, sometimes I get caught out there saying the wrong thing and not thinking. So I think everyone has to be really careful about what they say. I’m just praying to God one day that shit is non-existent because it’s dumb. Now everyone is doing their own thing, there should be no more stigmas, as far as race and where you’re from.
Cyn Santana: I’m open to whatever: Chinese, Black, Dominican, Puerto Rican, I don’t care. Rich, nah I’m just playing.
Rich Dollaz: At the end of the day we’ve all had situations that we’ve come up in and being in New York, which is the ultimate melting pot, I think that racism is prevalent around the country. I think that all things considered it’s sad that it still goes on today because with the way social media is putting everyone on an even playing field; I think that it really should have gone by the wayside, but it hasn’t. With that being said we’re going to do what we’ve got to do. I’m against it 100%. Racism is a horrible thing, but I don’t think it’s going anywhere.
What is the funniest misconception about your race that you’ve heard?
Nya Lee: Yeah everyone thinks I’m Dominican and I’m like ‘no I’m black’ and they’re like ‘wow you’re pretty for a black girl’ and I’m like ‘what do you mean?!’ There are a whole bunch of beautiful black girls, a whole bunch of beautiful Latinas and every race has pretty…if you’re pretty, you’re pretty. I don’t think it has anything to do with your race. I do get a lot of ‘are you sure you’re not Dominican?’ and I’m like ‘yes I’m sure I’m not Dominican.’
Tara Wallace: I would say when I first moved here they would say ‘oh you look Dominican’ and I’d be like ‘no I’m from Mississippi we all look like this.’
Tahiry Jose: Wow, funniest misconception is that we don’t wear socks. Hahaha Dominicans don’t wear socks. Misconception about our race that we hate Puerto Ricans, that we hate black people. No, that’s not true.
Can you share a personal story of a time you experienced racism?
Nya Lee: I went out on a date with an Italian guy that didn’t like black men. So we were at the dinner table and the guy was just like ‘I can’t stand black men’ and I was like ‘you know what my father’s black and now you’re going too much’. So that probably was like my closest incident with racism and I had to walk out of that dinner and throw a drink on him and go all ghetto because I just felt like it was inappropriate. Me being a black girl you brought to this date and you’re talking about, my father’s a black man so that was probably like the only time I dealt with racism.
Yandy Smith: Being in music, when I walk into a room people always think ‘oh she must just do hip-hop’. But I’ve worked with some of the greats, I’ve worked with a lot of people that aren’t only hip-hop. Even from my label that I’m starting with Rich; people are always like ‘oh so you’re looking for the next great hip-hop [act], someone asked that question today ‘oh so you’re looking for the next huge hip-hop thing?’ No, I’m looking for any music, anyone that’s talented that can generate income. I don’t care if it’s salsa. I don’t care if it’s pop. I don’t care if it’s opera, if you’re talented I’m into you, I’m interested.
Erica Mena: I work very hard for my money. Me being of an ethnicity, I’m Spanish, I get looked at crazy for buying Celine bags and buying her shoes. There’s times where I walk in and, we wear the same size, so I buy the double of every style of shoes, so she can have it and I have it. I get that a lot, but at the same time I’m kind of like I accept it because it’s kind of like people aren’t used to this (gestures to her and Cyn), so why would they be used to the fact of us of culture having money? It’s just another challenge and I’m willing to take it.
Tahiry Jose: The most recent is me walking into a 7-Eleven and he was of Indian decent and he kept saying ‘mira, mira’ and I’m in the front. I already was having a bad morning and he keeps saying ‘mira, mira’. So in my head I’m thinking to myself do I curse this individual out? Because he sees my complexion and he probably hears my accent and because of that I have to be a ‘mira, mira’. What is a ‘mira, mira’? I almost cursed him out and then I realised that maybe it was just ignorance. It was a sense of racism because to him you know he’s Indian and he’s thinking that because I’m light skin I must be a Latina and my name is ‘mira, mira’. So the girl on the register was like is your name ‘mira, mira’ and completely I almost lost it. Instead I said ‘yes sir, how are you?’ I just kept it moving.
Sometimes it’s not so much racism, it’s ignorance; people aren’t educated enough. I have a couple friends who are like ‘you people’ and I have to check them like who are you people? Who are you referring to? On the show we had a situation, where the girl said ‘you Spanish bitches’ and Spanish is a language. I deal with it on an everyday basis, it happens. It’s about how you deal with it and how you choose to educate the individual if you care enough about them to broaden their horizons. Other than that, it happens on an everyday basis, you just have to understand that it’s ignorance and that some people aren’t as well educated and move forward. Or try to teach them.
Was your family ok with you dating a black man?
Tahiry Jose: Absolutely, my family is ok with me dating whoever I love, whoever he is. No matter what color, shape, size. My mom it’s always like if you like it, I love him.
Check out more interviews with the cast of LHHNY below: