“Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta” has announced that actress Erica Mena was fired from the show after calling co-star Spice a racial slur in Tuesday’s episode. After Spice said that Mena’s son “hates” his own mother, Mena turned the table the women were sitting at and yelled, “You monkey, you bloody blue monkey!”
Viewers immediately responded to the insult, with many calling for her removal from the show. Mena, who is from Puerto Ricans and Dominicans (Latina and Afro-Latina) has two black children with her ex Safaree Samuels. Spice is Jamaican.
The show issued a statement Saturday morning confirming that Mena would no longer be part of the series’ cast. “The ‘Love & Hip Hop’ franchise has never shied away from tough conversations in our community,” the statement said. “In collaboration with our partners, viewers will experience the impact of Erica Mena’s comments in the final three episodes of the season.”
“Effective immediately, she will be retiring from the next season of ‘Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta,'” the statement said.
Mena’s use of the insult is particularly painful for many because she is said to be raising proud black children.
This didn’t escape the attention of Essence’s Victoria Uwumarogie, who wrote In an editorial entitled “It’s exhausting to watch racially ambiguous people slander black women while raising black children,” she asked, “If Mena go on national television and Spice a ‘monkey,’ a ‘blue monkey ‘ could call and mimic the sounds.’ of a monkey loud and proud, what does she say at home? What did she call Samuels? What does she say around her black children?”
Producer Dash Harris wrote another comment on the subject for Refinery29, noting that this is not even the first time that Mena has been accused of using the very slur against Black people she is angry at and that it is an indication of anti-Black rhetoric and beliefs is. Harris writes, “Mena’s social currency rests on her non-blackness and her closeness to whiteness compared to black women.”
Harris added of Mena, “She clamors for and is supported by the male gaze. Furthermore, she is encouraged and protected by black men who seek refuge from their own internalized anti-blackness in the arms of women who have ‘less baggage and attitude’ than ‘the black girls’.”
It’s worth delving deeper into the horrifying attitudes and beliefs underlying that insult, the ease with which she yelled it, and the possibility that the show might have such a confrontation in the last three episodes of this season’s ” Love & Hip Enables Hop: Atlanta is compelling. Mena has not yet issued a statement of her own about the comment or her firing, although Spice spoke to her recently forbes about what happened.
“I’m on my… journey to become that new woman,” she said. “I feel like that comes with what I signed up for. So I’m fine. I’m better at the moment.”
“Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta” airs Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. ET on MTV.