Spice Says Racists Only See Black, Not Ethnicity, Nearly a Year After Being Calling a ‘Blue Monkey’ By Erica Mena

Dancehall artist Spice had made headlines in the past for her views on colorism, and now she is back after making a provocative statement suggesting race should supersede ethnicity, cultural identity, and nationality.

Two years after she was called a “Monkey” on national television by former co-star Erica Mena, Spice is using her platforms to educate others on the subjects of race and cultural identity.

Despite being a proud Jamaican, she says she prefers to be identified as Black — a position that has evolved over the years as the Caribbean reality star set up residence in the United States.

erica mena blue monkey remark
Spice talks about colorism a year after Erica Mena called her a “blue monkey” on national television. (Photos: @ericamena/Instagram; @spiceofficial/Instagram)

This week, as a guest on “The Big Homies House” podcast hosted by The Big Homie Kodak, she said people of African descent should only say that they are Black as their primary identity and that clinging to ethnicity, nationality and other cultural indicators only divides people.

Kodak brought up the fact that South African singer Tyla said that she identifies as “Colored” and not Black because she is half white and half Black, a tradition cemented in the apartheid system and rooted in the distinctions between native Africans (Black), East Indians (Colored), and Europeans colonizers (White). Multi-racial persons were also called colored like East Indians.

She agreed with the host when she said that certain artists are pushed because of their light complexion. “I think systematically it’s probably the label or the system because the system will make you feel like you have to a Eurocentric type of look in order to make it big,” she told the host.

The South African caste system was a colorism convention but also had political overtones, according “Caste” author Isabel Wilkerson, and was different from the ones that either society that Kodak and Spice grew up in.

Spice wisely stayed away from the nuances of Tyla’s identity but spoke about her beliefs on Blackness.

“I don’t want the question to be based on a Tyla issue, ’cause I can’t speak on her behalf,” she said. “I’ve never been there [South Africa], so, I don’t know about that part.”

Adding, “What I can elaborate on is the fact that even here in America I hate the fact how they try to separate us… For example, you get a form, it’s asking if you’re African American or Black… and then when you’re coming in now with ‘Oh you’re mixed with white… then you’re colored’ … like I just think we’re all Black.”

She then said, “I don’t like the separation. I think if you’re Black, you’re just Black.”

This also goes for those in Spice”s home country who confronted her for marching with Black Lives Matter protesters during the summer of civil unrest.

“Just to raise another Point quickly, is the fact that I remember also as a Jamaican woman, when I came … was it 2020 … for George Floyd. I was marching and … some people from Jamaica was commenting like, ‘Wait! Why Spice over America a march?” she recalled.

According to the singer, many people from the island were mad that she was marching for what they saw as an American movement and issue, discounting that the overarching issue was about the treatment of the full African diaspora, including Jamaican-Americans who had been mistreated by law enforcement.

Spice’s words to her own people maintained her position.

“I wanted to just elaborate on is the fact that it doesn’t matter what race or where you’re from your ethnicity,” she said. “It doesn’t matter your nationality, if you should receive like a racism or anything, nobody not going to stop and say, ‘Oh which country you’re from? They just see Black.”

Baller Alert referenced the interview on its page, and some of its 7.9 million followers chimed in.

“How could anyone disagree with such a valid point???????” one person asked. Someone else joked, “Duh… we’re all [ninjas emoji], only ‘difference’ is the accent.”

Another noted the complexity of the Blackness: “To a degree because the African American experience is still different from other ethnicities/minorities. However, you won’t be disqualified from certain situations or perceptions because you’re still Black.”

A third comment agreed with Spice and cjecked many islanders that cling to their native country identities: “So stop saying your ethnicity before your blackness thinking it’s gonna save you bc African-Americans been told them this. It’s always ‘I’m Jamaican not black’ ‘I’m haitian not black’ ‘I’m Dominican not black.’”

The Grammy Award-winning singer has directly addressed the issue through her music, on social media, during public appearances and as a cast member of “Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta.”

One of her most notable actions was when she posted an image of herself with significantly lighter skin on Instagram, leading many to believe she had bleached her skin. This stunt was later revealed to be a piece of performance art to spark a conversation about colorism and advocate against skin bleaching with her 2019 song, “Black Hypocrisy.”

Spice explained that she used makeup to achieve the lighter look to highlight the pressure many Black women feel to conform to Eurocentric beauty standards.

On season 11 of “LLHHATL,” Spice was confronted with the race issue when she was called a “blue monkey” by Mena, a Latina.

The conflict began when Spice accused her co-star of being upset over her ex-husband Safaree Samuels’ emotional reaction to Spice’s health scare. She believed Mena was jealous and resentful toward her. During a heated confrontation on the show, Mena flipped a table after Spice questioned her about her estranged eldest son, prompting a fierce exchange of insults​.

The situation took a significant turn when Erica Mena made a racially offensive comment, calling Spice a “blue monkey.” This remark caused outrage among viewers and led to Mena being fired from the show. VH1 and the show’s producers released statements condemning Mena’s actions and announced her removal from future episodes. The cast members also commented.

Despite being fired from the show, Mena, a mother of Black children with Samuels, says she always wanted darker skin

The former model is of Dominican and Nuyorican descent but has never identified as Black, which is at the root of Spice’s argument, and she repeatedly has been called out for that.

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