Erica Mena’s ‘Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta’ firing: Just in time or too little, too late?

Written by on September 6, 2023

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Erica Mena’s time on “Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta” has reached its expiration after using a racist slur on the latest episode of the hit series. Yet, the decision to air the scene in the first place, and continue to film the rest of the season with Mena, has left fans puzzled.

On the latest episode of “Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta,” Mena and Spice got into a heated confrontation after coming together to work through their issues, as the Los Angeles Times reported. Alongside Shekinah Jo, who invited the two to hash out their problems, Spice and Mena only made it so far before trading jabs at each other, arguing specifically over the dynamics and optics surrounding Mena’s divorce from Safaree Samuels, with whom she shares two children.

Rihanna's 5th Annual Diamond Ball
Erica Mena attends Rihanna’s 5th Annual Diamond Ball at Cipriani Wall Street on Sept. 12, 2019, in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

The argument escalates after Spice tells Mena she acts like “she is the first woman to be divorced” and that her son “does not like” her. After Mena flips the table, production immediately gets involved in the clip, separating the two as they continue to argue with one another.

The crew ushers Mena outside, who then begins to repeatedly refer to Spice as a “blue monkey,” while also saying that she “should have died,” referring to a health scare she had. As they guide Mena to her car, she once again uses the slur.

“Erica, I cannot believe you,” Jo says in an interview during the episode. “You just called this girl a monkey and then said she should have died.” She then ponders how Mena would feel if someone referred to her children, who are Jamaican, as “monkeys.”

Days after the airing of the episode, VH1 released a statement to their Instagram account announcing Mena’s firing.

“‘The ‘Love & Hip Hop’ franchise has never shied away from hard conversations in our community. 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,” the statement reads. VH1 says “effective immediately,” Mena will not appear on the next season of the series.

The statement was immediately picked apart by fans, many of whom question the network’s decision to announce this after airing the fight in the first place. One user wrote in a post on X (formerly known as Twitter) that has over 9,000 likes that the network seems to only be making the decision “out of outrage/backlash.”

“The irony is, VH1/Viacom/Mona Scott saw this clip months ago and still decided to air it. It should’ve never seen the light of day and Erica Mena should’ve been let go immediately when it happened. They’re only doing this because of the outrage/backlash.”

Another user, Jerome Trammel, shared similar sentiments, writing “Love & Hip Hop filmed Erica Mena using the slur MONTHS ago, did green screens about it after.. Still decided to air it on national TV.. But, just fired her.” They added that the network left the slur in “for promotion & viewership.”

As the statement referenced, the “impact” of her remarks are set to play out in the remaining episodes.

New episodes of “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta” air Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST on MTV.

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