“Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta” has announced that cast member Erica Mena has been fired from the show after she called co-star Spice a racial slur Tuesday’s episode. After Spice said that Mena’s son “hates” his own mom, Mena flipped the table the women were seated at and yelled, “You monkey, you f—— blue monkey!”
Viewers immediately reacted to the slur, with many calling for her removal from the show. Mena, who is of Puerto Rican and Dominican (Latina and Afro-Latina) ancestry, shares two Black children with her ex, Safaree Samuels. Spice is Jamaican.
The show issued a statement Saturday morning that confirmed Mena would no longer be a cast member of the series. “The ‘Love & Hip Hop’ franchise has never shied away from hard conversations in our community,” the statement read. “Working hand-in-hand with our partners, viewers will see the impact of Erica Mena’s remarks play out in the final three episodes of the season.”
“Effective immediately, she will not appear in the next season of ‘Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta,'” the statement concluded.
Mena’s use of the slur is particularly painful for many because she is ostensibly raising proud Black children.
This was not lost on Essence’s Victoria Uwumarogie, who wrote in an op-ed titled “Watching Racially Ambiguous People Disparage Black Women While Raising Black Children Is Exhausting” posed the question: “If Mena could get on national TV and call Spice a ‘monkey,’ a ‘blue monkey’ and imitate the sounds of an ape loudly and proudly, what is she saying at home? What was she calling Samuels? What is she saying around her Black children?”
Producer Dash Harris penned another op-ed on the topic for Refinery29, and noted that this isn’t even the first time Mena has been accused of using this exact slur against Black people she’s angry with, and is indicative of anti-Black rhetoric and beliefs. Harris writes, “Mena’s social currency rides in her non-Blackness and her proximity to whiteness relative to Black women.”
Harris added of Mena, “She clamors for and is enabled by the male gaze and, furthermore, is emboldened and protected by Black men who seek refuge from their own internalized anti-Blackness in the arms of women ‘with less baggage and attitude’ than ‘the Black girls.'”
The horrific attitudes and beliefs that have informed that slur and the ease with which she yelled it are worth delving into, and the possibility that the show will allow such an examination to play out in the final three episodes of this season of “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta” is compelling. Mena has yet to issue her own statement about the comment or her firing, though Spice recently spoke to Forbes about what took place.
“I’m on my … journey to becoming this new woman,” she said. “I feel like that comes with what I signed up for. So I’m good. I’m in a better space right now.”
“Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta” airs on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. ET on MTV.
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