Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Full Episode: Brazil: A Racial Paradise?

In Brazil, Professor Gates delves behind the façade of Carnival to discover how this ‘rainbow nation’ is waking up to its legacy as the world’s largest slave economy.

  • Jim Friend

    This beautiful and tragic series is SO important for Latinos’ understanding and awareness of their own African ancestry and for African Americans understanding of the struggle of our Black brothers and sisters in Latin America. Thank you Professor Gates for raising our conciousness, bringing us all closer together, and exposing the hatefulness of “whitening programs” and genocides that you have documented in this series. Despite 500 years of this “still we rise” !!!

  • ZFiasco

    Great episode! I enjoyed how Prof. Gates let the believers in “post-racial” Brazil speak their piece, then not only allowed dissenters to have their say, but showed real conditions for many black Brazilians. His coda regarding the DNA analysis of the Brazilian contributors added a haunting final note.

    I first came upon this series by accident while channel-surfing a few weeks ago, and now each episode is on my must-view list. I’m sorry the series isn’t longer!

  • Aisha

    I thought this was a good series for the time alotted, and one common thread I noticed between the black females of Brazil, and those in America, is the importance of straightening their hair. It was indicated in this film, that the women in Brazil even come into the beauty salons to ask for their little girls’ hair to be straightened, and the same approach is happening widespread in America amongst African-American women. Even cultuturally the black females of Brazil and the black females of America will most likely say they are different, but their hair seems to cut across the cultural barriers, and even perhaps the different mixtures of DNA. It is the same approach in America within the beauty culture to desire a more white female look to classify one’s self as a symbol of beauty, perhaps say the lightnening of the hair to be blonde for African-American females, and some stars are promoting this look. Which of course no one is denying the black female stars in America this look, but the same is the approach in Brazil. There is a different standard of beauty that the magazines subscribe to in order to highlight beauty of black females across both geographic areas, and usually the premise is to reject the natural hair beauty of black females who are not working with bone straight or bone straight weavy hair, but more of the tight curly type. It seems like a real divide and conquer approach towards these women across geographic regions, in that only one mode of beauty is really promoted in the mainstream media, and seems to be inferred as the only standard to measure one’s self.

  • Priscila

    Great Show! Giving us a lot of info that we did not know.

  • Jessy Andres Torbicio

    DNA tests have already done the the University of Puerto Rico that like Boricuas ,Dominicans, we have 15% Taino DNA, and African and Spanish DNA due to the mixing which wasn’t illegal and sanctioned in North america, but Prof. Gates didnt respect our culture enough to do a DNA test. We are a mixed culture that have been mixing for centuries, unchecked and this is why it would be absurd for us to adopt a one drop rule. Our culture is more African anyway which Gates seems to missed lounging on Zona Colonial Blvd, and not going to an other Dominican city like San Pedro de Marcoris with Cocolo culture, Afro-American Culture in Samana (whom sided with Dominicans during independence despite being invited by the mulatto Haitian Pierre Boyer, they sided due to their religion being violated by the Haitian occupation), Moca,Miches,Higuey, or La Vega which has a Taino contingent as most rural norther communities (due to maroon colonies where Tainos and Africans mixed,Lynne Guitar and Ferrer research). I really wished he wouldn’t do 1hr shows in two countries as it doesn’t give him the time to fully research our culture he would have found the “blackness” of our culture he was looking for and the statues like Gregorio Luperon, seems he respected Cuban culture and Brazil enough to do entire shows but relegated us to 23 minutes. That is a shame, now many Americans have a misrepresentation of our culture from his simplistic representation, our culture and island are more complicated. He ignored our Carinval, Bachata, Sancocho, Domincan Vudon, Santeria, Botanica’s in any marketplace, and Palo , even ignored Dominican hip hop and Merengue fo the streets with names like Negro 5 estrella (5 star blackman), but he could find rappers in Brazil and Cuba, Que verguenza-the shame, At least he could apologize and say eh didnt have the resources or the time to fully explore our culture like he did Brazil and Cuba, I’m afraid Mexico and Peru are going to get the same treatment and their culture is much more Native American than African, sadly it might be portrayed by American standards as only black, we dont ignore all our heritage due to one drop of black blood and will never we accept all of our blood and lineage.

  • dave

    this series is getting better and better.. so provocative. EPIC!!!!!!!

  • MarisolD

    Wow. Absolutely love this episode. I have studied Portuguese and Brazil for many years. I greatly appreciate the interviews and thought provoking questions Dr. Gates asked.

  • Luciana Brito

    Great job Dr. Gates. Also, I suggest you spanish and portuguese subtitles. Its is very important for black brazilians (and white ones) to have access to this. Congrats.

  • Alicia

    Thanks so much for such informative work Dr. Gates.

  • ac

    Racial democracy in Brazil is an illustion. I experienced it when I was there.

    If you look at the economic stats, the majority of Blacks in Brazil are disenfranchised. I was there in 1996 and noticed that all white Brazilians hold over 99.9 percent of the wealth, hold the best jobs, hold the best opportunities, and have the best education. The system is set up so that elementary education has to be paid for and college is free. The disparities are systematic and are not going to change. Segregation is obvious.

    I stayed at the Rio Palace Hotel, ( I was the only black person there) the security guard tried to block my entrance and the concierge thought I was a prostitute and asked me to go check in at the other desk. He said, black women like you that are with white men are usually prostitutes.

    When you ask people if there is racism in Brazil, they will tell you No and get very very angry. Skin tone plays a significant focus on opportunity.

    The Students who are able go to the University have fewer resources and don’t have the elementary educations that will put them on par with the white students. Mind you, pre-education for Blacks in Brazil are few and plus they have to pay for school if they can afford it. They school in their neighborhoods are ill equipped to prepare students for college. The University requires that the students put their pictures on their applications and then they are judged by skin tone.

  • Dina Scherrer

    I am Brazilian and was so disappointed with the show…. Prof Gates had his on agenda and wants the world to believe there is a racial issue in Brazil.
    That is not true. Nobody cares about your color. There is no separation or segregation. There is no beauty shop for blacks, or clothes for blacks or even food for blacks like in the US. There is true that blacks have a social disadvantage due to Brazil’s slave heritage , but the problem is to be solved with education, and not with this racial American mentality.

  • robert myrie

    Prof Gates, you’ve produced a very good and watchable series.I hope that you do an expose on the Black Eurpoeans if possible.As a ex-pat Black Brition currently living the US.It would nice to see a series featuring this group of people as well.I’ve enjoyed all the stories shown.

  • Ian Lyn

    Thank you for posting this. I was on a television fast for lent, now I can watch it….but tomorrow, sleepy time now.

  • Dest

    I would like to say i found Brazil to be very intersting and a lesson for me as well. I had no idea Brazil was the 2 most black country after nigeria. As a black American in school we are only taught from a U.S view not knowing that ony 5% of our brothers and sisters made it to the U.S and 90% were sent to Latin America countries. Even though some think that Black America is where Africa culture is, really Latin America is. As Prof gates walked down the street it is soo nice to see that Brazil has more than 100 terms to describe there blackness. They truly do embrace there mixed heritage and many dont look any different from us blacks here in the states.
    Also i just want to say that when i watched the Haiti and Dominican eposoide i always wondered why many dominicans do not embrace there african heritage and im not saying all do this. But a good example of this is when i go to the hair dresser. I live in NYC so there are many dominican hair salons. When i walk in there i see many dominican women with a brown or bronze skin color. Some in there do talk about black people, as i speak spanish fluenlty as if were any different from them. I see many dominicans darker than me the women wear weave and they to me are no different than us.
    I do know here in America we do think black and white. For us blacks in America we really dont have any homeland like those blacks from latin america. Thats why here if someone ask us what we are we will say Black and then American, and those in Latin countries will say where they are from and then there black. So in my opinion its very hard to hear blacks from a latin america country will not say they are black but are more european but if thats the case all of us blacks are really mixed which we really are. Some more euopean some more african some more native american but in the us we live by that one drop rule. And thats what us blacks here live by. Light, brown, dark we are all black something very different from Latin America countries

  • always searching

    Again, well done Dr. Gates. It really amazing the cruelty that slaves suffered in those countries because the supply of African slaves were so readily available. One of the facts that Dr Gates has said that 450,000 african slaves were imported into the US compared to the millions imported into the Latin countries.

    Thank you for this very informative series.

  • melissa

    you emphasis a lot how black and white in brazil are like one…but why is there such a big discriminating factor very alive at universities and in politics?

  • Michele

    Wow, amazing and impactful. Watch!

  • A Jungers

    It is interesting that Professor Gates makes the statement in this episode that sex is colour blind, but in Rio de Janeiro the reality of the connection between race and economics once again becomes apparent. Brazil truly is a rainbow. In the episode about Hispaniola, many of the Black Dominicans identified as “Indios” with far less native blood than Brazilians, who have a higher proportion of Native American in their genetic makeup. The Indians of Brazil were “invisible” fo all intents and purposes. Being an American with one quarter Indian blood, I could easily find that offensive for some reason or other. My older brother was born dark as i was born light, he had the distinctive mongoloid butterfly patch that marked him as having African blood also, I am blond haired and blue eyed.

  • Vince Duncan

    This is a very good series….As a Black American I have always been fascinated with the US American Experience.Over the years I have encountered times that I have been with Blacks from other countries and all would tell me that the US was the only place that paid attention to skin tone…It was very odd to me to be the only black guy with all the other black guy’s,the response was the same I am not from the US so I am not black…Over the years I have had a chance to see things first hand for myself and have found that part of all of their cultures is to no tell the truth…And I have concluded that being an US American is the best thing that could have ever happened to me….Vince Duncan

  • Bridget Mourao

    Best documentary on Brazil I have ever seen! I traveled to Brazil several times and also speak to many Brazilians about the social differences that seem to be based on color. The Brazilians I know are white and always tell me all kinds of things that do not make sense. This documentary was beautiful. I agree equal education is needed in Brazil.

  • Yemmie

    This is a great series and illustrates how Africans shaped not just North and South American culture, but indeed world culture. Thank you Dr. Gates!

  • Boricua Cepa!!

    It is true that we want more Latin American Countries to be researched and more time slot. Dr. Gates says in his Q&A (Questions & Answers) blog, he was only alloted a certain amount of episodes.

    I am glad he did this research since in USA schools only teach US Black History (and not everything either) not knowing that ony 5% of our brothers and sisters made it to the U.S and 90% were sent to Latin America countries.

    Dr. Gates only touched a small part. I would have loved to see Blacks in Argentina, were most of the population is supposedly white (ex-nazis relatives). That would have also been interesting.

  • Nyimah

    LOVED IT!!

  • Brian C

    It is probably impossible to address all the social and racial issues of a country as vast as Brazil in a 50 minute episode. That being said, I applaud Prof. Gates for providing a quick overview designed for a North American audience. I felt that the most provocative aspect of the documentary was the segment on affirmative action at Brazilian public universities. Issues such as beauty and appearance are subjective. It’s obvious that Brazil is a racially-diverse nation. However, college admissions offers a concrete action to address discrepancies in power and influence. I am ambivalent about whether a quota is the best solution. However, it is obvious that a large segment of Brazil’s population has been denied access to professional training and higher education. Inadequate primary, secondary, and post-secondary education leads to the spiral of poverty. Surely, many white Brazilian students will be better prepared academically than their darker-skinned counterparts. However, the Black Brazilian who can become a doctor, or lawyer, or dentist, or professor will have an opportunity to help his or her communities which are under served. As an American, it is puzzling that admitting students to a university (based on their darker skin color) is so controversial. As Prof. Gates points out, the Brazilian government once had a policy to “whiten” their society by encouraging European immigration.

    If lower-income and Black Brazilians had better access to free quality schooling (primary and secondary), a quota might be unnecessary.

  • Mina Stewart

    It saddens me to see that ravenous need for straight hair in Brazil. I notice that desire growing instead of lessening in America where we have experienced a supposedly successful civil rights movement. Yet here we are valuing straight hair under any circumstances going far beyond fashion. I see women on a daily basis with sew in hair that by no means looks like their own. As an African American woman, I occasionally wear my hair straight or straighter than my own. I do not have to do it nor do I straighten it because I think it is better. It is just different. I have a difficult time understanding how people who have experience the overt racism of the past few decades could embrace such ridiculous extremes in terms of hair fashions. iI is to the point that most black women wear hair that is straight and not their own and they wear it everyday instead of occasionally. In Brazil I see we have that unfortunate link.

  • Global Force

    I am very impressed by this whole series. I critic the effectiveness of the shows by how much I learn from them. As I am a life long student of history, with a particular interest in African people of the Diaspora. Yet, I am not so wise as to assume I cannot learn something new, and I have learned something new in each and every episode. Well done Prof. Gates!
    I like the magazine cover test. However, if one would apply that test to every country where there is ethnic and racial diversity, they will sadly discover that a pigmentocracy exist. And in every instance, the magazine covers will almost never exhibit people of color. Just take a look at the magazine covers of Mexico, Peru, or even India or Thailand – I bet you would be hard pressed to find a face darker than milk!
    Can’t wait to see Prof. Gates in Mexico and Peru. I am sure I will learn something new!

  • A Jungers

    On my application for a wedding license in 1970, under race I put “human”. I grew up with racism, and there were still antimiscegenetaion laws on the books in those days. My mother, half American Indian, preferred to “pass” as high born Mexican, although we have no Spanish blood whatsoever. Her father was a bit of a racist, denigrating my mother and his wife as “blanket squaws”. I had to come to New York to find out that he was in fact a “Souter”, not German, but of a mixture of Palatine Germans, outcast Indians, and freed and escaped slaves going back to before the Revolutionary War. I always thought his dark curly hair came from being Southern German with Mediterranean influences. Imagine my shock! We need to know where we come from in order to understand where we’re going.

  • LWeiss

    Dina Scherrer- if the problem is to be solved with education, then why is the education system in Brazil so exclusive? As AC mentions, you must pertain to the established class in order to go to university. You say that no one in Brazil cares about color, yet most billboards have white people and tv stars are mostly white, and beauty is based on European features. The negative stereotypes are of black people.

    Brazilians definitely have a very different perspective on mixing, but the society is far from not having racial issues. If anything, I am realizing more and more that Brazilians do not see the reality. They do love the idea of a racial democracy, they really believe in it, but they still do not practice it.

    By the way, I am neither black nor white. I am married to a Brazilian, speak Portuguese well and know the culture well. These are things I have been realizing more and more throughout the years. Brazilians love saying “there is no racism in Brazil” but I see otherwise…

  • Hanz

    Just what Latin Americans needed, a US black man to “educate” them about how racist their own country is.

  • Sparkle

    I really love this series. I have studied extensively on Brazilian culture and have visited Brazil a few times. It is a warm and beautiful culture but there is still denial among most white Brazilians that racism exists and that whatever discrimination black people encounter is solely due to class differences. Well the myth of a racial democracy was exposed by UNESCO back in the 1950s but it still seems to me as if there is massive denial on the part of the white population in regards to anti-black racism when it is glaringly apparent to others. When outsiders mention Brazilian racism they are accused of “bringing” North American racial attitudes to Brazil. Okay.

    I am glad that black Brazilians were able to actually speak for themselves. Whenever race is discussed in Brazil, seldom are the people who would have firsthand knowledge about racism and discrimination are approached. Instead members of the white upper class speak for ALL Brazilian citizens even though many of them are living in households in which all of the maids and other low paid domestic help is of African descent.

    It’s time for Afro-Brazilians to have their say and for their voices to be heard. I am quite sure most of them know that they are not living in a “racial paradise.”

  • Mike J

    Dont know how any Brazilian can claim that there is no discrimination in Brazil. I suggest that they walk around wealthy or upper middle class parts of most Brazilian cities and get back to me about how many darker mulatos or blacks they see. Go to top law firms, banks and other Brazilian corporations and tell me how many darker mulatos and blacks do they see, and I do not mean the cleaners and security guards.

    The fact that you may not think about racism does not mean that it doesnt exist. It is just taboo to talk about it. When I was in Brazil I heard many blacks talk about it. They had to feel me out first to see if they could have this conversation with me.

    The issue is that while relationships between the different skin color groups might be cordial and there might be a lot of miscegenation, producing a majority mixed population. This doesnt mean that skin color isnt a barrier for some and an opportunity for others.

    Also spare me the “slave heritage: bit. Virtually all peoples of African or part African descent in the Americas share this heritage yet there are many countries where large numbers of blacks and darker mulatos have made it in the ranks of the upper middle class. Clearly not the case in the Brazil that I saw 25 years ago, nor what those who have bene more recentlly report. Clearly the case in the much maligned USA which is often held out to be this “horribly” racist country. Hey, in the USA there are even investment banls OWNED by people with visible African ancestry.

  • Casey Hill III

    I have not been exposed to something like this since I was sitting in Dr. Jefferies class at City College of New York(CCNY). THANK YOU!!!

  • Manuel

    Thank you so much, Skip, for this documentary film! I would be very delighted if there were an opportunity to make it available in the languages spoken by all former slave traders!… Would such a prospect be another dream too?
    A thread within the Black diaspora seems to have been lost at the end of the 1950s. Otherwise, this documentary would have taken another shape. Let’s hope that a new generation would rise up and resume with the legacy of giants such as Dr King, WEB DuBois, and their great predecesssors. At stake is our common future.
    Thanks again!

  • Derelia

    I was very interested in watching the episode about Brazil. I had no idea that the black population there was so large. Living in the United States, I rarely see images of black Brazilians.

  • Ed

    This was wonderful and educational. I love The Brazilian Spirit, The Happiness and The Genuine attitude, Brazilians have such a Happy Spirit and it was captured in this documentary. I wish The Country of Brazil The Best because they deserve it. Professor Gates hit another Home Run with this documentary.

  • Mariana

    I’m sorry but I have to say as a Brazilian that if there is a racial prejudice is minimum. We do have a social prejudice, it’s not the color it’s the way you act or dress. We can’t assure you won’t be discriminated by your color, because a world with zero racial prejudice just don’t exist, but it’s easy to find a social prejudice. Equal education? What do you mean by that? If you’re saying that a kid have a poor education because he or she is black, it’s a stupidity. Our public education is awful, but there’s white kids there too, don’t forget. They’re receiving bad education too. If there’s more poor black than white it’s because of the history. After the abolition of slavery in Brazil instead of including them on the society, many ex-owners of slaves, as revenge, used their money and through the government brought immigrants. That’s why. Black were always poor in Brazil, and don’t think you’ll change that from one day to another, it takes time. My best teacher is black, and I love him. So don’t go saying that a black person won’t get a job because of his/her tone of skin, most of the times it’s because somebody else was better.

  • layray

    Simply amazing! I lived in Salvador for a year and witnessed with my own eyes the racial disparities and inequalities that exist amongst blacks and whites in Brazil. As a black American woman, I too was shocked about the theory of racial harmony and how it truly manifested in society. He hit the nail on the coffin- people have internalized the myth of “Racial Democracy” so much that they do not want to acknowledge/admit that blacks are being discriminated against. Yes, some can argue that it is not only race- it is class- but they are interconnected, and cannot be separated. It is critical that people start talking and that government policies change- that is the only way racial democracy can truly be achieved in Brazil.

  • Jason Elie

    Mind Blowing series, having seen the Slave Castles in Ghana that the Portuguese built to export slaves. I feel a personal connection with African descendants all over the world. The article in News Week made me run home and see for myself, why the media was attacking Dr.Gates again. I applaud you for the courage of exposing Afro-Latin American culture roots.

  • angie

    Very insightful film, and beautiful footage. Brazil does have the custom of “visual interview” which in effect lets decisionmakers see the interviewee’s skin tone. Blissful racial mixing is common amongst the “common folk” but not so much at society’s upper levels. And upper-level opportunities are more “white”. The problem is race is complex — race is visual, but class is not. Many problems of opportunity stem from lack of access to good education, coming from lack of schooling funds, lack of social connections, and often race and class coincide in such a way that black people are society’s poorer. It seems that Brazil is trying to address that problem.

    Prof. Gates, being human, brings his own lens — I think all of us do to a certain extent. Anyone who has ever crafted a complex research project knows the struggle between detached research design and observations flavored by one’s own personal vantage point. Dr. Gates has given us some thought-provoking films — not as an answer to these questions, but as a way to continue the conversation about improving the human condition.

    Each country has its layers of history, problems that evolved over time, and different ways of denial and trying to cope. Here in the US we discuss problems more openly. We can be messy, but many reforms here start at grassroots, while in the countries profiled in this series so far, reforms have come top down. As a Southerner, I’m intrigued by the ways different societies address their inequities and think we all can learn something from each other.

    @Jessy – It is difficult to delve into the complexities of race and the centuries-long trajectory of socioeconomic fissures within one hour’s segment. Maybe Haiti and Dominican Republic should have been separate segments, since the two countries have very different histories even though the two countries’ paths have intertwined. Maybe he took a “one island, one segment” approach.

    @Aisha, interesting comment about African American hair and straightening. I don’t know first-hand the feeling about “African hair”, but do know about history and fashion. Looking at old photos (from around the world really, wherever there are people of African heritage), it seems that *every*one’s hairstyles followed the fashion of the day, regardless of race (think 1920s, 1930s, 1950s), and everyone’s hairstyles pretty much looked the same. The Afro (1970s?) seems to be a distinctly American feature that (I’m guessing here) may have grown out of the Civil Rights movement and the idea of finding a place in society while honoring the idea of black uniqueness after having been oppressed for so long. And hair was just an easy place of uniqueness, since the texture is obviously different from European hair. Maybe now African American are thinking more about the “why” behind straightening or not straightening. Other countries had no equivalent of a Civil Rights movement, so perhaps their conversation about race haven’t matured enough to ask questions about the meaning of hair.

    On one hand, we should all take a deep breath and stop obsessing about race. Ultimately, we’re ‘all human. On the other hand, it is fascinating to see how cultures developed from the influences that people from different places carried around the world. And it is fascinating to see the hybrid stew cooked up from these different cultural ingredients which each country seems to mix in its own way.

  • mekiel

    I find it interesting in this conversation that there are those people who are white and privileged not understanding that this show is highlighting the reality for people of African descent in Latin America. I completely disagree with the comments made by Diane Scherrer and Jesse Torbico. All one has to do to prove something exists is to look at the social media/society (magazines, images of beauty, political leaders, socieoeconomic status television and jobs) and speak to those at the bottom and you will find the truth. So for those living the lie, it is time to wake up and recognize the wrongs that have been perpurtraded by the European colonists. When you have a people saying that disparity and lies exist stop a minute and try to understand what an entire group of people are saying globally. Thank U Prof. Gates for highlighting the reality of a chosen people and oppressed people. There exists a reason why people of African descent are being oppressed? Look at the beginning, its African. From Northern Africa , the middle east, Europe and the so called new world, the black African diasapora will report the same issues.

  • Gilson Emanuel

    Blacks in Brazil are mostly poor, yes, but that should come as no surprise. It´s a legacy of slavery. Brazil was the last country in the western hemisphere to abolish slavery, in 1888. Until the 1930s, Brazil was mostly an agrarian country. And even after industrialization, economic problems plagued the country until the late 1980s. Is it really surprising, then, that the majority of emancipated slaves (without land, money, assets and an education) and their descendents did not manage to quickly rise out of poverty?? Is it surprising that the majority of them are still poor? Social mobility in Brazil is difficult (for all skin colors). Public education alone does not bring freedom from poverty, especially when considering the aforementioned economic problems, which affected EVERYONE. We all know that wealth breeds wealth. Meanwhile, keeping children in school (even public schools) when the family faces economic hardship is complicated. For example: many such families would send their children to find work, rather than go to school. It´s not easy to go from rags to riches in such a short period of time – not in the US, not in Europe, let alone Brazil. Brazil is booming now, yes, but that is a recent phenomenon. The result? In the 13 years from 1995 to 2008, 13 million Brazilians were lifted out of poverty. Why? “It´s the economy, stupid!”.
    Why do so many fashion magazines feature whites on their cover? They want to sell glamour, chic, and fab, which are attributed to money. So if one claims that to be black in Brazil is synonymous with being poor, then it´s not surprising either that blacks don´t appear as often on such magazine covers. But then again, perhaps these questions should be posed to L´Oreal and the companies that produce beauty products. For example: the exact same L´Oreal and perfume ads seen in Europe and in the United States are imported to Brazil unmodified. When do they ever feature blacks? So when a black girl goes to the hair salon to get her hair straightened in Brazil, it unfortunately has more to do with the import of foreign “beauty brands” like Beyonce (whom they want to emulate) than with racism in Brazil per se. Let´s not forget that the country´s standard of beauty is not a white, blue-eyed blonde, but rather the “morena” – a darker-skinned person with dark eyes and hair – the girl from Ipanema.

  • Gilson Emanuel

    I want to address some of the comments I saw in this forum…
    Public schools in Brazil are free, meaning everyone, including blacks, have access to education. Are a lot of schools badly-administered? Yes, but to say that it´s because blacks attend such schools would be ignorant. In the two southern-most states of the country – Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul – where the black population comprises only 5.5% and 11% of the population, respectively, public schools are JUST AS BAD. There, the poor are white, not black! At the university level, the situation is quite different – the best brazilian universities are free, and open to anyone scoring high enough on the admission tests. The tests are objective, and students´ test scores are made public for all to see. Enrolled students come from all social backgrounds and races. This was the case even before affirmative action.
    As far as the lady in this post (”AC”) who was mistaken for a prostitute, I have to say I´m not surprised. She was staying at a nice hotel in Copacabana – a neighborhood plagued by prostitution. A lot of white, middle-aged North-American and European men go to Rio for sexual tourism. It is very common to see these men, who stand out from the crowd, accompanied by young, pretty, scantily-clad black girls, who resort to prostitution because it´s an “easy” way out of poverty. They target foreigners because they pay well, they take them to nice restaurants, and in some cases even send them allowances upon returning home. So when the concierge saw the black girl walk into the hotel, he wrongly assumed she was a prostitute trying to visit her client. Again, his mistake, but one must understand the context surrounding the event, instead of merely assuming that all black ladies at hotels in Brazil are considered prostitutes. This lady who posted this comment also said you must include your picture in university applications. Strange…my public university application didn´t require a photo. And even if there is a university where there is such a requirement, to conclude that it is based on racism would be hasty and erroneous.
    In summary, it´s dangerous to interpret events or behaviors without an understanding of the historical, political, economic and cultural events that have shaped and continue to shape different countries. It´s apparent that sometimes people have a hard time looking at things through different lenses, because their own experiences shape how they see the world.

  • Empress The Great One

    Dr. Gates I really want to thank you for conducting this research. A coworker talked about it and he said it was a must see. I want to thank you not only for educating me on Brazils huge slave trade, but also showing that racism still exists there just as here in America. One of the most amazing things that struck me most was the Black Women who were straightening their hair. The same thing is going on here in America and it’s heart breaking when I see us not accepting who God intended for us to be. I must say over the past 5 years, I have found my true identity by doing research and embracing natural beauty. The natural beauty movement in America is growing at a fast rate. We Women of color are learning that yes, our hair is beautiful and there are a lot of things that can be done with wearing natural hair. I have been wearing my locs for 5 years now. I wouldn’t change ME for anything. I am clearly giving a salute to my ancestors who were persecuted and whom minds were washed into believing that they were less than human beings. I wear my locs to let everyone know that I have pride in accepting my natural beauty and yes, my ancestors lives weren’t in vain. My hair is a tribute to tell all, my ancestors live through me yesterday, today and forever. God Bless you Dr. Gates.

  • Victor Carmona

    I like the idea that Prof. Gates get this topic out of the closet. What I dont like its how he pushes, almost shoves, the african american experience in the episodes. But I also understand that this series is directed to the US audience. The problem in the rest of America is that we dont know nothing about our african heritage, I’m a puertorrican and in school I was though about our proud Spanish, Taino and a little bit of our african ancestry. Our caribbean neighbors have darker complexion and we are thought to see ourselves as more european, but if you eat our food, hear our music and the way we speak it screams AFRICA all over. I wont criticize Prof. Gates, at least he brought this topic to the mainstream.

    Profesor Gates, you forgot to mention ARTHUR SCHOMBURG as one of the fathers of AFRICAN AMERICAN history, A BLACK PUERTORRICAN!!! Look it up people thats little known fact

  • Redd

    Dina Scherrer,

    I think you are in denial about the racism in your country. I am a Black American who has spent a lot of time in Brazil and I speak Portuguese like a native and I have been discriminated against while there. I have had sales clerks in high-end stores ignore me until they heard me speaking English and they saw dollar signs. the assumption was that I was black and poor and thus unable to afford their products. You also say that there is no difference in the food that black people eat and the food that white people eat in Brazil, that is also not true. The divide may be smaller, but it exists and I would even say there is more racism in Brazil than in the USA. Have you ever been to Bahia? Bahia has a majority black population and the food is very different than the food in Curitiba for example. I have had white Brazilians tell me that there is not racism in Brazil, but white people can NEVER accurately evaluate racism because they are almost never on the receiving end of it. If there is no segregation, please tell me why there is very little black presence in some of Rio’s most famous neighborhoods: Copacabana, Ipanema or Leblon. Black people are almost invisible until you go into the slums of Rio. This is not just a coincidence, it is that way by design. Also, why did Brazil pay to import Europeans to whiten the country if race is not an issue. Additionally, if there is no racism in Brazil why are many universities now using a quota system to evaluate applicants? Because they realize there is a problem. I could go on and on and on with many more examples, but I think I have listed more than enough. If you ever go to Salvador, please see “A Peça da Raça” and you might walk away with a different perspective about what it is to be black in Brazil, but then again, maybe you won’t.

  • Redd

    Jessy Andres Torbicio,

    If you are Dominican and you admit to having African ancestry I applaud you because most Dominicans I have met get angry when people call them black. I lived in a largely Dominican neighborhood (Santurce) in Puerto Rico and I used to argue with Dominicans and Puerto Ricans who were as black as tar who would say, “No soy negro, soy Dominicano o Boriqua.” I would try to explain the difference between race and nationality to no avail. I had the same experience in the Dominican Republic. I applaud you for being on of the enlightened ones.

    Redd in Brooklyn

  • Redd

    Jessy Andres Torbicio,

    Also, I think the reason he didn’t spend more time in the Dominincan Republic was due to limited funds. This project took a long time to complete because it was difficult to get the necessary funding. Maybe you and I can do our own project to showcase more of the African side of your country.

  • Ron

    With all the garbage online, this video was a breath of fresh air. Educational and enlightening. It’s sad the so many blacks in inner city America don’t take advantage of the opportunities that this country offers. Blacks in other parts of the world would kill to have what we have.

  • Chris Bohlander

    After watching some of the earlier chapters of this series I was eagerly anticipating what Professor Gates would show us about Brazil. He nailed it. I especially appreciate that the black Brzilians were given the opportunity to speak for themselves. I recommend this to everyone but especially to Brazilians. It’s high time we took a long hard look in the mirror my friends. Please, please, please release this with Portuguese subtitles. Everyone in Brazil needs to see this. Many will be outraged because here in Brazil, we aren’t supposed to talk about this and are expected to carry on pretending to be happy with our “Racial Democracy.” Maybe Rede Globo will pick it up for broadcast….ha,ha,ha,ha. (I guess you have to live here to understand that reference)Well done Professor Gates!! Keep up the excellent work.

  • Zemir Magalhaes

    Great documentory, I loved it. I am a black Brazilian man who lived in the United States for 7 years. I now live in Brazil. I’ve experienced racism ever since I was a child. I have a house in a very nice neighborhood, where all my neighbors are white, I’m the only black homeowner in the entire neighborhood, the other blacks are servants. A few times people (of various racial backgrounds) have come to my gate asking me if they could speak to the owner of the house, not thinking that I could possibly be the real owner. I recall another incident when my partner who happens to be white and I were taking our car to the mechanic. A guy called me aside and asked me if I worked for that man as a driver. I never had a similar experience while I was living in Chicago. I have never felt so “normal” as I did while I lived there. Here in my homeland, I experience racism several times a month.

  • Lopes

    Carnival isn’t as peaceful as it seems to be.

  • Jeri Mason

    Thank you for this wonderful series. I have always been curious about the similarities between Blacks in America and Blacks in Brazil, and Latin America. I see that our struggles are the same, arising from class, social standing, race and color. I hope this series fosters more of an understanding between Black-African-Hispanic persons in the Americas. We really are the same….

  • claudia nunes

    Hi! I am from Brazil and I am trying to watch the doc, but it is freezing all the time. I give up!

  • Jon

    I have always known Blacks in Latin America are just as much discriminated as Blacks in North America. Dr. Gates, I am so glad you are ours. You penetrated those societies in ways they have never been examined by an outsider. I hope you will do one on Canada, you will all be in for a surprise, they have much worse record in treating African-Canadians than many think.

  • Dan

    Great episode, it was wonderful that Mr. Gates was able to travel all over Brazil and look into many different sides of the racial story in that country. My one criticism would be a tendency in this series to conflate racial disparities with racism. Racism implies a sense of intolerance or superiority by one group over others. If brazilians, white and black, believe their country is a racial democracy, then it may be the case that racism is not a major issue in Brazil. Racial disparities clearly exist in educational and economic achievement, and representation in politics and the media. This is a severe problem that needs to be addressed by policies including affirmative action. It may also indicate that attitudes or assumptions about race create barriers to people of color. However, these disparities are not proof of racism itself.

  • Rubem Lima

    I think a proper reaction to this documentary would take lots of documentation and many pages, but I would like to point out a few things:
    1-People almost always find what they are looking for. Prof. Gates went to Brazil looking for problems and he did find them. You can always find people and situations to prove your point of view, esp. when you don’t speak the language.
    2-I think it is almost impossible to get a feel for a country when you do not speak the language and don’t spend enough time there. I think this happened here. Not many Americans speak Portuguese and Prof. Gates didn’t either.
    3-The fact that it was easier for Portugal to get slaves does not in any prove that Brazilian slave masters were more cruel. In fact, I seem to find descriptions of much harsher treatment of slaves in the US than in Brazil.
    4-Portugal was already a mixed country when it embarked on discoveries and never had the idea that blacks and Native Americans were subhuman, like the English or the Spanish had. Many Portuguese had wives or relationships of other origins, like Arab, North African, or Jewish.
    5-Brazil does not classify its people according to race, but according to color. Prof. Gates seemed to miss that in translation. Race until recently was a foreign concept in Brazil (except for some imitation of foreign theories in the 30’s.)
    6-Prof. Gates also seemed to miss the fact that the Brazilian ideal of beauty is a mulatto woman, not a white or a sun-tanned white woman. Watching a little Brazilian tv would have shown him that. Of course, foreign-based fashion magazines are going to show mostly whites. Brazilians do imitate some foreign fashions.
    7-The most important thing he missed is that, in spite of all the possible exceptions (which do exist and can be documented), most Brazilians think of themselves as Brazilians first, from a particular state next, and only thirdly about their color. Considering the racial history of the US, I can see why Americans would have a hard time imagining such a thing. Working in a samba school for a while would prove clearly how accepting Brazilians are.
    8-When African slaves escaped in Brazil , they often went to live in cities called quilombos and often were left alone.
    9-The racial quota introduced in some Brazilian universities is an attempt to imitate the US, and is creating a lot of problems since most Brazilians have mixed DNA. It would make more sense to have affirmative action based on income, not on color,
    10-It is true that the condition of slavery gave darker people a slow economic start. That’s why affirmative action based on income would offer justice to everyone, the black, the white, the yellow, and the brown poor.
    10-I have many relatives who have both Native American and black characteristics: I have never seen them mistreated or segregated and they have never told me about such an experience.
    11-Finally: there are ignorant and prejudiced people in all countries and Brazil does have some of those also, unfortunately.

  • Doug

    Henry Louis Gates Jr. does a great job through this piece, being objective like a journalist or an educator, but then he has to input his feelings on the controversial affirmative action policies in the U.S., and Brazil’s controversial version in schools.
    In doing this he also contradicts his findings earlier in the piece that Brazilians appearing to be of African decent are so diverse in appearance that the labels they give themselves are incredibly various and complex too. He even does DNA tests of subjects of the film finding that, surprisingly, their DNA shows them to be very complex, and even one woman who is considered Black, actually has an overwhelming majority of non-African DNA.
    How can you put this science on a college application or a resume? How can legislation such as affirmative action work when we are all so racially complicated. How can anyone mark “Black” or “White” or “Asian” or “Latino” or anything on an application if they haven’t done a DNA test to find out their racial make up?

    How can reverse discrimination be more powerful and popularly used than finding out who we are scientifically?
    How can any country win the hearts and minds of its people, and open the hearts and minds of its people with legislation? It’s impossible. And its also very shortsighted and dangerous.

  • diane


    As Gates very eloquently stated, racism isn’t de jure but de facto in many countries. Brazil may not have laws discriminating against Blacks, but when access to education and jobs is limited and are rarely represented in the media, government, business etc, that has the effect of causing Black of being disproportionately affected economically and socially. And why are there no Black models on the cover of your magazines. I don’t recall ever seeing a Black woman represent Brazil in the Miss Universe pageant. It’s usually a Giselle type. If Blacks make up over 50 % of the population, what don’t they have more opportunities in Brazil?

    Secondly, it’s not just America that has a racial mentality as you call it, but the entire world. The US didn’t invent racism, it has been around a long time and was brought to our shores (just as it was to Latin America) by White Europeans and the slave trade- so don’t get on your soapbox and think you are any better than the US. Racism is everywhere!

  • Bernado

    Great Job!! I watched the documentary on Hispaniola and Brazil. My husband walked into the room to get something and he was glued standing next to the bed watched the whole document on the island of hispaniola. We are from Haiti. I have both Dominican and Haitian parents and growing up my DR family comments often that I do not look like a “Bernado” (not light skin) but took the Indian side (darck skin, long hair). So it was great learning about both.

    Thanks Professor Gates

  • Edna Perez

    Very well thought-out documentary about Brazil!! I learned a lot.

    I would like to see a documentary about the blacks in Argentina or Chile where all the refugee Nazis ended up. It would be interesting to see that.

    Another interesting documentrary would be about Australia.

  • Brooks

    THANK YOU! I truly appreciate this series. Most of us would like to forget and/or sweep history under the rug, as if it never existed. Many people seem to be in denial about race relations in these countries. This series gives us all a look at the “African” experience in some Latin American countries. I hope that you are able to get funding to explore other Latin American countries. I have encountered individuals who have denied their African heritage, stating that their skin is dark due to the climate of their country. So, how do they explain their African features?… This type of ignorance has to stop and this series is one step towards enlightening us all. Great work Dr. Gates!

  • Herman Krieger

    Unfortunately, OPB (Oregon) is showing the series at 11:00pm, a time that
    is not convenient for many people. I wonder if this has to do with a tradional anti-black attitude in Oregon.

  • Tee Payne

    Dina Scherrer your comment demonstrates pure ignorance. I take it that you are not an African Brazilian for you to purport that there is no racism or bias in Brazil. When was the last time that you had a discussion with a black Brazilian about how easy it is for them to find a good job or integrate fully in your society. I have been to Brazil a number of times and have witnessed the glaring disparity between Black and white Brazilians. Open your eyes and get your head out of the clouds!

  • ibrahim

    I ibrahim disagreed wtih Mrs.Dina Scherrer, because there is an indirect discrimination against blacks in brazil, which is the most badest discrimination in this planet. I am writing from experience of life not experience of study, three or four brazilian black cannot walk together on the street, let us face the reality and let us be realist once and for all.This is the time and the moment for brazilian negros to raised their heads up and face reality about their country. TOGETHER WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL

  • Nick E

    @Jessy Andres Torbicio…Celebrating African Culture(Roots) is not negating the other aspects that make up the Dominican Republic. This show is about the African Experience in Latin America. As for the Tainos they were nearly decimated on the island due to infectious disease from the Europeans AND miscegenation. In 1790 there were 40,000 white landowners, 25,000 mulattoes, and 60,000 African slaves.. The reason why there is no one drop rule in the DR is because they needed All the additional ‘WHITENESS” that they can get to raise their numbers from the Africans. As far as the DR being a truly democratic society in terms of race…can you say TRUJILLO?…Who hated the “Hatian”, quotient within himself so much he decided to massacre innocent people( to stop any possible intermingling w Haitians in order to lessen the African bloodline) who are one in the same as Dominicans by way of the slave trade…Do I need to drop another name? Sammy Sousa…of whom is the POSTER BOY for SELF-HATRED in regards to his AFRICAN Ancestry that w all his accomplishments in Baseball he decides to risk his life by bleaching his skin?..What role model is that for young Dominicans that look like him and there are PLENTY!!…This is exactly why this documentary is important for those that are proud of their African Ancestry regardless of what percentage they are comprised of..and really African slave history is uniquely tied to Indigenous People because of the fact that they intermingled w one another and are at the bottom of economic and social society in the AMERICAS… One more thing, can u say Junot Diaz? (Dominican Born and raised) and his book… The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao…to Professor Gates this documentary is overdue… Keep up the good work!! Brigado!!

  • mingau

    WAIT A SECOND !!! At the end of the show, one of the self-declared black person … the university professor … did a DNA test which undoubtfully showed that she is NOT black (54% of her gens come from Europe, only 38% from Africa). Nevertheless… she is the one in the show who defends negro’s rights, affirmative actions, racial quotas and so forth… – what a hypocrisy !! It seems like as long those black people – anywhere in the world – can get ahead with their personal goals by the means of using their race as the main excuse/tool/weapon to achieve them, no matter what the science says, it should be ok for everybody else … Oh, guess what – it is not ok, and we are not dumb to see that what is at stake here is “power”, not “rights”.

  • Rafael Zabala

    While I agree with the premise of the documentary, I most correct a historic fact: Capoeira was not created in Brazil. It was brought there by captive Africans from Angola and used by them and other blacks as a weapon against the Portuguese army in the defense of Palmares, a free nation formed in the northeast state of Pernanbuco. Palmares was led by a black escapee named Sumbi, a superb capoerista; today enshrine in the history of black resistance in Brazil. I was surprise his name was not mentioned by the capoeira master when he was explaining the origin of the martial art form. In spite of this omission, I think the series is a great teaser for those who would want to delve into the subject of Blacks in Latin America.
    Thanks Profe!!

  • Seph Callaway III

    Prof. Gates confirmed my suspensions about Brazil. Racism does exist and the myth of a racial democracy has been put in place to silence the issue, confuse those inquiring about it and provide a smoke screen for those with all eyes on deck. I taught English in Salvador, Bahia for nearly a year and it was great. On a final note, damage will be done to this racial democratic myth by these three situations underway; institutionalized affirmative action, the willingness to see black Brazilians as equal from white Brazilian youths and the outside influence of pro-black propaganda beamed into Brazil via the U.S., ie. Robert Johnson (an African-American billionaire), Tiger Woods and most importantly U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama. Brazilians admire America, regardless whether they outright admit it or not. Also, Prof. Gates didn’t mention the potential outside political influence the U.S. could have had on the policies of racial segregation in Brazil. Lord knows all these stupid American magazines with blondes, such as Paris Hilton gracing their front covers being sold in Brazil, just instigates the issue further. So, while yes, Brazil has a racial problem, in some form, Brazilians do look to the U.S. for confirmation. Most Americans think that the election of Obama has officially marked the end of racial discrimination in America and then they woke up.

  • Tami W.

    I have always wanted to visit Rio, Brazil. This documentary has opened my eyes very widely. What about Bahia? Would my dark self experience racism there?

  • RaeJene

    Thank you Prof Gates, for revealing the truth about African Slaves in Latin America. I hope to see more programs such as this regarding African heritage in India.

  • Berta Guillen

    I’ve only watched one episode in this series – the last one on Mexico and Peru – and I was disappointed that Dr. Gates did not attempt to pronounce anything in Spanish nor that he spoke any other language besides English. There were a few times that I also raised my eyebrow in doubt – was this well researched? Did he find dig deeper? Why all the comparisons to Barack Obama?

    As a Latina, born in the US but travelled back and forth to Central America since I was young, I know that applying my concepts of race in Latin America never work and I feel that Dr. Gates completely missed this.

    Yes, these are stories that are often untold and where in some places are still taboo, I just hope that the American audience will use this as an opportunity to investigate this issue further and not take this series as the final say on blacks in Latin America

  • Silvio

    I saw the videos on Dominican Republic and Brazil, and could not stop being surprised by some of his statements. He calls Dominican R. black, but Brazil is hybrid. Self-claim colors in Dominican R. is a denial of black heritage, while in Brazil is okay because they are mixed. “I dont think ive ever been anywhere with so many brown faces”. Are you serious? Did he go to Brazil before filming in Dominican Republic? Didnt he see brown faces in Dominican R.? It is a very similar pattern, but he did not see it, or decided to judge from different points of view. And I havent finished the video.

  • Monty Nixon

    hey, i like the brizal and cuban documentary, however many of these latin americans are full of bs. Since a vast majority of the racial makeup is african and then native american.

    No one on any of these countries should be trying to claim european descent because overall its very little.

    As a black person in america i keep updated on african and indian history.

    plus i prefer to date the afro- or browner latinos anyway.

  • Noah Lenstra

    Why can’t Dr. Gates pronounce Gilberto Freyre’s name correctly. Should be Frei-de, nor Freir as a single syllable…

  • Adela Prieto

    I thought this episode was soooo intresting. I am telling everybody about it because i have learned so much i never knew but it MAKES SENSE. this is a rainbow nation lol.

  • Rubem Lima

    A couple points I forgot to mention:
    12-Although slavery wasn’t abolished until 1888 in Brazil, many laws limiting had already whittled it down quite a bit. One of them, Lei do Ventre Livre, made had it illegal for anyone born in Brazil to be a slave.
    13-There is no “black accent” in Brazil, which clearly proves how inclusive the culture is. A black Brazilian does not sound separate from a Brazilian of any other color.
    14-Black contributions: even a shallow review of Brazilian magazines, tv programs, and cultural events makes it obvious that the most Brazilians are proud of and extremely aware of black contributions in music, art, cuisine, etc, etc.

  • Arlette

    Racial democracy in Brazil is a myth. I’m an African who has lived in the United States and currently resides in Brazil, and I have to say quite honestly that I prefer the US to Brazil when it comes to race relations. What we find here in Brazil is a dissimulated racism. Everyone pretends that it doesn’t exist, but you would have to be blind or dumb not to see it…it is glaringly evident. Thank you Professor Gates for debunking the myth of a racial democracy in Brazil …as far as I’m concerned, the US is leaps and bounds (though it still has a long way to go) ahead of Brazil in addressing the problems of race and racism (and don’t let all the miscegination fool you either).. Brazil will only become the racial democracy that it claims to be when it has had an open and honest conversation about race, and racism.

  • Audrey

    Thank you Prof. Gates and PBS for producing this program and making it available on dvd (I will definitely order a copy!) Although I am not black, I have always felt that people in the US were extremely ignorant about the life and culture of other blacks in the Americas. This episode (Brazil) is my favorite because Prof. Gates points out the hidden genetic variety which I discovered when I began visiting the country. It is one of the aspects of the culture which I adore — many Brazilian families have children who express a variety of different racial features yet they are all biologically related. I believe that the term, “racial paradise” is meant as an expression of the country’s future course than a precise depiction of the current state of things. All races will inevitably weave their way into the genetic pool. The only criticism that I might make is that Prof. Gates seemed to be attempting to draw parallels between the US and Brazil. Or using the US slave history as a guide. I don’t think one can do that fairly. Brazil was founded by the Portugese who had very different cultural values and it had a thriving sugar and slave economy long before the people in the US began building plantations in the South. Furthermore, the King of Portugal, who was the only European monarch to reside in the New World, brought with him his court and established a white aristocracy in the country which I believe deepened the social chasm between whites and blacks. But as another commentor pointed out — in Brazil, money makes one more white. And the Brazilian independance from Portugal was not gained through war but through a business deal. (Which is quite typical of the Brazilian way of doing things.) In this way, their varied economic and political history has likely made it difficult for blacks to progress. I’m also unthat comfortable with the affirmative action program installed by the college because it only sets them up for future race issues. It works when the economy is booming, but when things are scarce it creates resentment. And considering the Brazilian genetic diversity, who is to say who is more black? Will the school use genetic testing to determine who gets accepted? In the end it results in reverse discrimination. Nevertheless, everyone I’ve met in Brazil simply refers to themself as “Brazilian.” The term is not preceeded by any other ethnicity. I think that’s a good sign.

  • Audrey

    I just want to rebut some of the comments made by people who think that black Brazilians don’t have access to the same quality education as whites…

    It’s the same deal as in the US — A poor state equals a poor school system. The poor black kids have to go to the same poor school as the poor white kids. (Ask my poor Brazilian husband.)

    If you have money, you can send your child to the same PRIVATE schools as the wealthy white children and no one cares what color he or she is. (Ask my wealthy black inlaws.)

    The only differences I’ve seen is that if your kid does NOT SHOW UP FOR CLASS, no one will do anything about it. And if your teen quits school, there’s no adult evening courses or GED available for him to fix that mistake in the future. (Ask my idiot brother in law.)

  • Luis Ruiz

    There are many aspects of the entire series that seem a bit lacking…I will admit that having a pretty good historical account of my own Afro-Cuban Roots…As a further criticism, in agreement with Jessy Andres Torbicio..There was significant details left out about Dominican Republic but some things were indeed true…I have friends there and I was there myself last year and experienced fist hand some of those racial mis-communications..notwithstanding…The series should do this for those of US that are interested in understanding HOW Europeans in general have sown a very toxic and negative seed around the entire world with regards to race and racial identity. Racial Classifications are bondage to people all over…color is a moot point and Gates errors on this wise as well by emphasizing “BLACKNESS” The mixture of the Latino and Afro American culture, regardless of the past, should by now have brought an understanding to the whole idea of HUMANITY…humans are a complex species and love to dwell in the primitive and trival rather than to transcend the ideologies that have caused severe seperation. What I am learning from this series is the humans have been brainwashed with racial mumbo jumbo and are doing FAR TOO LITTLE to DIVORCE THEMSELVES from this poor logic. RACISM has done a terrible injustice to ALL of mankind and if this series intends to do anything I HOPE it intends to put the issue to clarity and to rest. Europe owes Africa and The Americas an apology for destroying cultures. The blending of the races was meant for a good thing. I agree with that. BUT now it is too late to reverse the clock. The One Drop Rule is NOT the answer either. HUMANITY is and so is forgiveness. The color of my skin is said to be Tawny or Brown or Tan…my hair is black…my teeth are white and my toe nails and finger nails are clear…my blood is red and the last time I checked I was HUMAN. African/Taino/Cuban/American/Dutch…like a pot of Arroz con pollo I cannot choose one thing…and ignore memebers of my family I love…I was never a slave but I know of ancestors that were…what MATTERS now is that I live so I can remain FREE and never be a slave myself…even the slavery in mental…I MUST STAY FREE…that is what my ancestors will have wanted…

    Otherwise…people..use this opportunity to grow and to learn…

  • Walter dos Santos

    Dina Scherrer says:
    May 4, 2011 at 9:57 pm
    I am Brazilian and was so disappointed with the show…. Prof Gates had his on agenda and wants the world to believe there is a racial issue in Brazil.
    That is not true. Nobody cares about your color. There is no separation or segregation. There is no beauty shop for blacks, or clothes for blacks or even food for blacks like in the US. There is true that blacks have a social disadvantage due to Brazil’s slave heritage , but the problem is to be solved with education, and not with this racial American mentality

    Dina’s comment demonstrate pure ignorance, I am Black Brazilian, I lived in Brazil 35 years of my life and I am 50 years now and I am citizen of USA and Brazil and for the past 15 years I have been living in different countries around the world. and as a black man I prefer my life in USA where the human rights is respected and because of the Civil Right movements Brazilian now are opening their eyes for the racist situation in Brazil.
    Sorry Mrs. Dina but you don’t know your country, our country and if you are white you of course you don’t know what black brazilian goes through to have a decent life.

  • dudeluv

    Jessy Andres Torbicio,

    Correct that statement, dominican republic indians were wiped out no pure bloods left, the majority of your country is mostly of african and european. 15% of your country has some detectable amerindian ancestry.

  • Raymond

    Very good series Dr. Gates,
    Just like in Brazil, American media also glorify “whiteness” as the face of the country and the standard of beauty. Go into any professional office, doctor, dentist, attorney, etc. and all pictures on the wall and elsewhere are of white people. Just rub it in our faces, why don’t you. Keep bringing us these informative series. Thanks a lot.

  • Elisa Rosario

    After reading quite a few comments, I can only conclude that unfortunately, centuries will go by before men learn to love each other and treat each other with dignity. Wars go on unabated throughout the world and yet we don’t learn. The entire world appears to want to come to the U.S. for economic reasons. Yet those same people looking for a better life are racists. Yes, even the poor whites think they are superior to poor blacks in any country. Hopefully, in our lifetime things will continue to improve. But I don’t think that there will be major changes anytime soon. Some of the biggest problems is the problem of Whites throughout the world telling blacks that racism does not exist, and some blacks also (such as Brazilians) denying that racism exits in Brazil.
    I always admired and hoped to visit Brazil one day to enjoy the carnival in Rio de Janeiro, but after watching this documentary, it would be the last place I would even consider visiting. Shame on those people. Hopefully, one day we will see a documentary about blacks in Argentina, Ecuador, El Salvador if there are any.

    The first time I learned that there were blacks in Peru was via the “Laura” talk show. I was very surprised to see that they had blacks and that they were on tv.

  • margrett

    Enjoyable documentary, but Professor Gates’ call for institutionalized affirmative action sounds like the wrong approach. Brazil’s public elementary education system is much worse than that of the U.S.–the country’s former president, Lula, only got through fourth grade. So, throwing unprepared people into a university setting won’t do anyone much good and will serve to reinforce stereotypes. The change needs to happen much earlier at the elementary school level.

  • LJ

    I find this series fascinating, as it has increased my understanding of racism as it exists globally. I have always questioned why those of darker hues, no matter where they live in the world, tend to thrive less than those of lighter hues. Of course, there are always exceptions, but my previous statement I find to be the norm. I would love to see a segment on Blacks in the Caribbean. I am the child of an African-American Southern-born mother (Alabama) and a Caribbean St. Lucian-born father, with family members who see the perceptions of racism, in America and the Caribbean, in a vastly different way. The doctrine of “racial democracy” is endemic with my Caribbean-born cousins who continue to espouse that there was no “racism” in the Caribbean. Yet, having visited family in the islands, I saw/see the effects of racism, whether it be within the family, as evidenced by socio-economic and “color lines” (as we African-Americans call the issue of degree of skin color) or within the different ethnic groups living in the respective Caribbean countries (Europeans, Chinese/Asians, East Indians, etc.) I applaud Professor Gates on his efforts to focus on the story of the African people and its impact on the world in relationship to the slavery, colonialization and Euro/Anglo-centrism. The practice of “whitening” was confirmational, as I continue to see evidence of it today in U.S. immigration policies and integration. Keep providing the “teachable moments.”

  • Deb

    Thank you Rubem Lima. I appreciate your input and agree with you.

  • Deley Gazinelli

    Dear editor: this is the best version. I have made some grammatical corrections.

    I must confess that as a Brazilian I was a little disappointed with the series. The Brazil episode specially lacked in-depth research regarding historical facts which have been well documented in literature and film by Brazilian, European and North American historians and scholars. I personally know experts born in this country, Ph.D. trained at Harvard, where Mr. Gates teach, who have done field research, written extensively on slave trade, tracing and connecting African ancestral lines in the United States, Brazil and West Africa. All done long before we dreamed of DNA testing. Here are a few examples: Gates failed to interview the most important and dominant figures of Candomble which are women. They are the most powerful and well-known spiritual leaders in Bahia. Man actually have minor role in the Candomble. When I was a kid the President of Brazil, a military oligarch, had a famous “Mãe de Santo” bless the Presidential Palace to avert evil spirits. The “Mães de Santo” Mothers of Saint have maintained and preserved the integrity of the original ceremonies throughout the centuries. In fact, African religious leaders travel to Bahia to re-learn the old ceremonies and sacred rituals which they have lost during colonization. Another example: Chica da Silva’s companion was not a diamond merchant. He held the most important position in the colony. He was appointed by the King of Portugal as the tax collector. He was a member of the Portuguese Court – an aristocrat. Even though, Chica lived like a queen and owned many slaves, she was discriminated against by the catholic church and the white elite. When she was barred from worshipping among the elite, she built the most extravagant baroque church in Diamantina. Her church is lavishly decorated with gold and precious stones and still stands today in all of its glory as a testament of history and symbol of her power. Think Oprah in 1750. Unfortunately the biggest failure was not shedding light on the heroic slave resistance which is taught in grade school throughout Brazil. An ancestral member of my family was responsible for fighting and crashing a number of “Quilombos” slave resistance settlements throughout Minas Gerais. I hope Mr. Gates and the public realize that “Black in Latin America” is not a substitute for real history. After all this was a show made for TV. As demonstrated in the other series on “Black in USA” I truly believe that Mr. Gates is a serious observer and student of the Black experience. However, I find his focus on both series a bit narrow, partially confined and encumbered by his own personal experience.

  • RicoRea

    mingau says:
    May 10, 2011 at 10:58 am
    WAIT A SECOND !!! At the end of the show, one of the self-declared black person … the university professor … did a DNA test which undoubtfully showed that she is NOT black (54% of her gens come from Europe, only 38% from Africa).

    I can not believe the comment that “mingau” said about the woman is NOT black because 38% is African and 54% is European. Are you kidding me?!! She has African DNA. African DNA that makes her look the way she does. She can look in the mirror and see who she is. There are alot of Black people in the U.S. have the majority of their DNA from Europeans. It sounds like he is a very confused person that doesn’t realize that Black genes are very dominate.

  • A_Brazilian

    Great job Prof. Gates!

    I quite liked your approach to the Brazilian episode but, despite your efforts, I think you could not manage to escape the one-size-fits-all (North) American framing.

    The constant portrait of a particular group (whatever skin color, religion, etc.) as constant victims of history for the purpose of raising awareness is actually a double-edged sword:

    1) it creates divides and fragments society: e.g., what about the native population that went through a similar ordeal? Don’t they deserve our attention or should they make their own documentaries? How many documentaries are needed to reach the same conclusion?;

    2) it gives the impression that the oppressed could not prevail in shaping any other important aspects of societal life in that nation (apart from grabbing a “fair share” of the western symbols of power and wealth);

    3) it simplifies the complex psychological relations in society as a mere long-lasting blind discrimination. Particularly in Brazil, the poverty cycle feeds criminal activities, and in turn, drives preconceptions against any lower-class-looking people. Frankly speaking, skin color is certainly one component in this equation of fear-and-prevention for daily survival in a nation under (hidden) civil war between “haves and have-nots”;

    4) last but not least, it may even backfire as a hypothesis for “biological” basis for such long-term and persistent pattern across different countries and cultures. So the victims may have deep in themselves the inescapable source of their own problem, no matter where they are. Although in good intention, your DNA tests may feed this biological trait of racism. Imagine the Nazi in WWII with a DNA test facility…

    Finally…maybe… just maybe… what “solved” the problem in the US (and your own university admission) might not be a good solution for very different configurations of that problem in other nations.


  • Gladys Saraiva

    Mr AC is right about some of the issues he raised. But about the education in Brazil, I would advise people here it’s frivoulous information. It is of no proceed. Mr ac, pls, research more and consider more your sources before publishing something. First of all you need to consider the size of Brazil and see that each state has its own interpretations and economical means to apply the free education system in the Country. In fact we have only 2 kinds of graduation schools that are free: The “Universidade Federal” eg. (in São Paulo: USP) and the state Universites (eg. in SP – Unesp). The others like Universidade Mckenzie, and so on are paid. Our undergraduates studies (called here Ensino Fundamental, Ensino médio e Técnico) have the option of private schools and government schools. The ETECs – state schools – are considered to be one of the best schools for training people for the workmarket….

    One thing I’d like to mention: here in Brazil we always answer naturally that we are Brazilians…. no matter which part of the “rainbow” we are. But I heard many “americans” saying: I’m afroamerican, I’m afrikos, I’m whatever…

    Well… that’s also food for thought…

  • John Doe

    The most ridiculous part of this series is that the host doesn’t speak Portuguese. Racism in the 21st century is no longer blatant and obvious to the casual observer, but lies in the subtlety of everyday life and in the nuances of language and human interaction. You cannot truly understand a culture through translation. No one makes documentaries about American culture or facets of it when they don’t even speak English, except maybe Sacha Cohen and BORAT!!! Identity is directly related to how people choose to express and identify themselves through language. The language regarding race in Brazil is much richer than English’s brown/black/white and unless you are able to conceptualize the way Brazilians describe themselves, it’s a pretty difficult task to understand them. It’s very presumptuous on the part of the host and of the many Americans who have posted on this thread who have been to Brazil and claim to understand the Brazilian racial experience with little to no understanding of the language.

  • Sosa Domingo

    The Name of this Series is Black in Latin America. Not Taino in Latin America or European in Latin America. It just proves how many of you would rather remain brain washed and white washed in not accepting any part of your Identity that would put you in the majority of the peoples who were enslaved there. And in that sense you are still slaves…Mentally

  • Yedia H

    Deley Gazinelli this statement you wrote above is False:
    In fact, African religious leaders travel to Bahia to re-learn the old ceremonies and sacred rituals which they have lost during colonization.
    If africans religious were in Brazil it is not to re-learn any traditions but certainly they were invited.
    you should know that:
    Africa is a continent and not a country: Have you ever been or explored african traditions or any rituals ceremonies.

    African never lost any tradition of the ritual ceremonies, Africa is a temple of ritual traditions, and it will never end… nothing on earth can compete against african cultural diversites. Africans who were stolen ,deported and ensalved in a new world by the white people just brought a very small part of the African culture.

    How many African religious leaders do you know? or have you ever met? Could you please take time and do your research before writting anything about Africa.

    I am an African and from the west and very proud of my African roots. African shaped the world civilisation believe or not. You should take advantage of the wealth Africans brought in the new world instead of discriminating them.
    Good Job Professor Gates.

  • Lonnie

    Dina Scherrer and John Doe stop lying to yourself. The Professor is on point. Stop your complaining!

  • marci

    @john doe, please don’t make this into a you don’t speak my language so you wont understand matter. It is very clear that Mr. Gates had people translating to him what the brazilian people were saying, and he himself had someone translate to the native brazilians what he was saying. The africans didn’t speak portuguese either when they first arrived, but that didn’t stop them from being able to communicate. People who don’t speak the same language have been communicating from the beginning of time, so that is not even an issue.

  • Napoleon X

    Thank you for bringing this topic into American homes.

    1. I hope that someday you’ll be able to visit the Cape Verde islands. There you’ll find the Brazilian New World experiment plus 200 years.

    2. What I picked up from your documentary is that “some” Brazilians are in deep denial about racism in their country.
    They need to talk about it and work towards a solution.

  • a little info

    for the individual asking Dr. gates to do an African descent documentary in Australia, it would be not be suitable because they (the aboriginal Australians) are genetically less related to Africans than Europeans or any other group of people.
    basically Europeans are more closely are related to Africans than aboriginal Australians are.
    people need to understand that genetics is very complicated and just because some one has darker skin like an African or lighter skin like an European does not mean they are related to those groups.
    skin color and other traits are polygenic and are adaptive traits. therefore people living in colder climates have relatively lighter skin than those living in tropical climates.
    the same applies to south east Asians and Indians.
    that is also why race is pseudo science
    by the way even if it looks like a duck (platypus, a mammal) it is definitely not a duck.
    our universe is waaaaaaaaaay too complicated for simple assumptions.

  • cliveklg

    “And the good thing is we’re all black.”

    Now if someone said, “And the good thing is we’re all white,” there would be a completely different reaction and connotation assumed.

    Just something to think about if we are all really striving for a equality.

  • cliveklg

    Love the program. Very informative and something and brings a lot of information Americans should learn about their neighbors to the south.

    But, something stuck with me that I found interesting if another group had said it.
    “And thank god we’re black.”

    Now if a white person said, “And thank god we’re white,” there would be a whole different reaction and connotation imagined. Why is that? Why is it OK in one instance but not another?

  • Michael L

    This documentary reinforces what I observed and experienced in Rio in 1987 during my 14-day visit there. I saw no dark-skinned people working in restaurants, hotels, bars, clubs, stores, driving taxis and buses, or working as tour guides. Even the garbage collectors and streetsweepers weren”t dark-skinned blacks like I used to stereotypically see (relegated to only the dirty work) in other places. I wonderd where all the black folk were in Rio, and my assumption was they didn’t have jobs due to discrimination. I stayed at a hotel on Copacabana Beach. That’s the only beach where I saw dark-skinned Cariocas hanging out, and that was usually (aside from some of the street kids) only at night when the “entertainers” and vendors paraded down Ave Atlantica, and on Sunday when it appeared the entire city went to the beaches. It seemed Copacabana was the beach blacks were relagated to. I didn’t see any dark-skinned people on the beaches of Impanema or Leblon. It appeared those were implicitly reserved for the more European looking Cariocas, and whites from other parts of the world. Blacks in Brazil appear to be going through the same thing we (blacks) did here in America in the 60’s and 70’s in terms of a revolution, albeit without the violence. I had a fantastic time in Rio, and regard it as the best vacation I’ve ever taken, but my idealistic views about the melting pot facade there were shattered. Traveling teaches…

  • Carl E Lee

    I have enjoyed the feedback more than the documentary. I am a strong believer that the depth, and quality of any documentary is measured by the weight of its viewers comments, and these comments here way tons. Professor Gates has once again created a small wind of thought to blow between us thus creating a tornado of affect we are now a part of change wow thanks again Professor

  • rudy

    There are Black Folks everywhere, but they are also poorest of the poor wherever they live. Why is that? Please don’t blame the white people in your answer.

  • workingman

    This is an excellent series, I hope Mr. Gates do more about blacks in Latin America.
    I would also like to see Documentaries about blacks in Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua and Colombia.

  • Von

    I just enjoyed this documentary & it opened my eyes to a whole lot more the doc. was great!!!!!!! The city of Gods i just watched that movie & now I know why there are so many different people light, dark, brown, white & they were all speaking the same language. All in all I loved the documentary.

  • Dana

    rudy says:
    June 19, 2011 at 8:47 pm
    There are Black Folks everywhere, but they are also poorest of the poor wherever they live. Why is that? Please don’t blame the white people in your answer.

    Your comment doesn’t event deserve a answer…but since you are apparently so ignorant…for your info black oppression didn’t end with slavery!

  • Lindenberg Junior

    I agreed with Dina comments and disappointed with the episodie… as a “moreno” Brazilian, a journalist with over 20 years experience and living in U.S for over 18, I can say that Prof Gates episodie was very sad with his “racial issue in Brazil agend”. As Dina did mention in her comments, there is a social disadvantage due to Brazil’s slave heritage, but it is a problem that step by step can be solved with education. There is no separation or segregation. When you ask a “Black” Brazilian about his origen or nacionality, he/she not answer she/he is a “Afro-Brazilian”…instead he/she simple answer are: I am a Brazilian. Most “real” Brazilians inclusive agreed that Brazil’s great “cultural values” coming from the “African Influences” like the music, dance, folklore and even the food. There is no shop only for blacks because there is shop for all (maybe for those with money, but not because the color). To read more about Brazilian culture in english I recommend take a tour at Soul Brasil magazine website, a bilingual magazine published in L.A since 2002 –

  • Aruna Parajuli

    A very nice episode, and it is very true. But still the ending note of the documentary wasn’t as powerful and hopeful as it should be. In every community where African people were brought as slaves the discrimination exists. Always one can see a great difference in social and economical conditions of ancestors of African slaves and white masters. But what is unique in Brazil was the mix up. It is hard to differentiate the people based on looks. It truly is a hybrid nation.

  • RaeJene

    I was happy with what Professor Gates presented. The world needs to know that Brazil is not free of racism, just because certain segments of the population had sexual relations with one another and produced mixed peoples, does not stop racism. Slave masters had sex with slaves in the United States and produced mixed peoples that were deemed slaves. It is sad to see Brazilians of color pretend they do not see discrimination. Google Brazil in almost any subject matter and the images that represent Brazil will usually be represented by European Brazilians, when in reality people of color are in the majority. If you want to see people of color in Brazil, just Google carnival, that seems to be the only thing they will let them represent. They are told lies about being equal regardless of skin color, meanwhile they are not allowed to represent Brazil on a global scale. Reality is Brazilian whites have the most privilege. America has overcome many areas of racism, but it took the people of color to recognize the reality of racism, and the oppressors to admit it. Black people did not care if they died in the process of fighting for freedom. They were tired of being treated like second-class citizens.

  • Gabriel Silva


    I’m Brazilian. My father is black, my mother is white. And surprisingly, my father also has white and black brothers and sisters.

    Professor Gates’ analysis is superficial. It tries to explain today’s Brazil only by the skin color point of view, regardless of economis and social develpment. For instance, my mother has a blond, green eye, white maid. She did not have access to good education because she was poor, not because of her skin color. If it was the case of pure racial discrimination, I would not be writing this comment, because I have dark skin.

    P.S.: American commentators act as if they know more about Brazil than Brazilian themselves. That’s prepotence in it’s most open way.

  • Chris Williams

    This is truly a treasure to see that Afrika expands to many nations. And that the Afrikan influence is celebrated. Up until 2 years ago I did not even think that there was Afro-Mexicans. Simply because there are hardly any images of Black Mexicans and even the popular culture doesn’t even expose that side of its society. Even the Olmec’s are not even mentioned when you hear about Afro-Latino Culture. If it wasn’t for men like Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Bro. C.R. Gibbs I would have never know that Black history is the story of man’s civilization. It goes beyond boarders. I really appreciate this little bit of knowledge that has been presented.

  • Brazilian Boy

    It’s incredible how the Brazilian posters try to sell the idea that there is no racism in Brazil and that Gates had an “agenda”. Yes, there are poor Whites in Brazil, but they are the minority. Just go to a fancy restaurant and you’ll see mostly white faces, and then go to a slum and you’ll see mostly black faces.

    Black people in Brazil are often seen as “ugly” and have steoritypes and being criminals. Brazilian TV has very few Black people, just watch any soap opera and there’s often only 1 or 2 Black actors out of 100 White actors. Brazilians themselves dont like the way their own people look like. Most black Brazilians dont admit that they are Black and call them “morenos” and discriminate against darker people.

    Brazil is the country of hipocrisy

  • Mike Davis

    Wow. I had no idea. As someone who is very active in the Black consciousness movement here in America, this was stunning to me. I had the naive point of view that struggles with race and slavery were a uniquely American experience. To see the same struggle play out, to a very different end, in other nations, has opened my mind in a way that makes excites me. I want to unite brothers from all over the new world to aspire to the greatness of our ancestry.

  • Del

    This series has been one of the most enlightening that I’ve ever seen. Professor Gates did an extraordinary job of chronicling the Afro Brazilian experience from their perspective. As an African American it’s disturbing to me that people deny the racial bigotry that is pervasive in Latin American Countries.

    President Obama wouldn’t have been elected in Brazil, their would be no billionaire by the name of Oprah Winfrey. African Americans would be the tenth largest riches people in the world if would were in a nation as a culture. We’re the most educated in the world. The afro Brazillion people are relegated to inferior and passive lifestyles. They’ve comformed to the theory of equality, but in practice remain powerless. It saddens me because our people are second class citizens in many of these countries. I wonder whether or not an African American can obtain the Presidency in many of these countries.

    There has to be a civil rights revolution similar to what has occurred in Haiti and the United States. I’m encouraged by Hugo Chavez becoming the first Afro Latino President of Venezuela and Barack Obama in the United States. Change is immenent when the inhabitants are feed-up.

  • Debora

    There is racism in Brazil, not doubt, and it is not restricted to the black population. The almost invisible indigenous peoples, the mixed people from the north and northeast suffer as much discrimination and lack of opportunity as the black population. Beyond racism, though, there is a discrimination based on socioeconomic status which is as harmful as that one based on skin color.
    I’m from a state in Brazil in which the black population accounts for just 5% of its overall inhabitants. Slavery did not happen at the same scale in Santa Catarina as it did elsewhere in Brazil. However, discrimination is present and it is primarily based on socioeconomic status. If you look poor, if you’re uneducated, if you don’t own land you could be subject of mistreatment.
    That attitude could be traced back to an aspect of the Portuguese culture that disregarded hard work as been something dignifying. In that context, physical work is for the lower classes, for the servants and slaves. The lower classes, which are black in their majority but not exclusively black, still the subject of that prejudice to this day.
    To change this picture it is necessary to implement policies that will address socioeconomic disparities, which will benefit the marginalized population, which is mainly black, but not exclusively black. Affirmative actions that separate the population by the tone of the skin could be as damaging as the injustice they are trying to correct in places as diverse as Brazil.

  • Carolyn

    Racial mixing without consent generally means rape Dr Gate’s. Those opulant Baroque gold laden Catholic cathedral built by devils building didn’t have anything to do with God.

  • Jacinda

    I also want to emphasize how important it was that the interview was conducted from Prof. Gates perspective. People attempt to deny the unique African American nomos, but Prof. Gates being a descendant of African American slaves can incorporate that intuition in a way that no one else could. I appreciate that PBS gave him the license to say the things that most of us in this Post-Racial society are condemned for saying.

    Funny, Color-blind=Racial Democracy, sounds like smoke and mirrors…

  • jay

    john doe, have you ever watched documentaries made by european descent host speaking on an african traditions and finds or any other native culture around the world? They usually have a native to speak the language for the purpose of interpretation. When a black does something everything is magnified even if it is the same template used by white his white peers. he talked to two white people in the universities about african slavery, where are the black brazilian historians at? have you ever seen on mainstream tv a black historian critiquing western history, sense its about intelligence right color shouldnt matter on that topic right?

  • JAY

    can anyone answer this for me: when and where was racism created? is it an institution like religion? does it take power to use racism? can people talking about this topic be racist? who financed the study of racism and did the research? across the world people of color from india to africa, from tazmania/australia to south and north america have been subject to this by one group of people of a certain race. the question all the children of the world want to know is: WHY?
    let me tell what i learned in history from k-12 about western civilization: CONQUEST!!!! HISTORY(his-story)
    what is injured humanity?

  • Jessica

    Thank you Dr. Gates for taking the time to do this research and for sharing it with the American public. I hope many people watch this, so the next time I tell someone I’m Cuban they won’t look at me like I’m crazy because I’m dark skinned. Schools need to do their job, meaning do not wait for people to be at a college level (not everyone gets there anyways) to teach them that the African slave trade spread throughout America the continent, not just the United States of America. Latin America is extremely diverse, we are all mixed and we love it.

  • Jane

    As Haitian Canadian wow I love everything about this series thank you. I am so sick of people treating blacks last and the worst of all people and they have the nerves to hate us but use our cultures to there advantages. If you hate us then do not use anything black or african stop stealing our beautiful cultures throughtout the world. We blacks are here to stay we will never go away education is the way for our people. Keep making series like this so black all over know what great things our people have done and come together as one.

    Sosa Domingo
    I agree with you 100% it isn’t Taino or Indian in latin america It is BLACK IN LATIN AMERICA
    stop the Taino thing on here people let us blacks shine. I am black and I care about black people and people who are mixed with black and I have a mixed son white and black we will know about black people all over. I also tell his white father about blacks all over and he is shocked and amazed about the great facts and truth.

  • Diogo

    I think most of people comments is not valid, simply because they try to view Brazil with an american background. Americans need’s to get the point: Black people in Brazil see/feel themselves very different them an american black seen/feel themselves. Brazil is said to be 50% Mulato, 20% Black and 30% white, but in reality 90% born children today has some african decedent. The Brazilian Culture was homogenized and cemented with diversity.

  • Mikel Dieppa

    Thanks so much Megan. You just made my day. So glad you found us!

  • Ahmed Muse

    I am Somalian, A black from Africa, I feel sorry about for what is happening in Brazil, Black need to become as one to tackle this problem not only black Brazilians but all blacks in the world.

  • Paulo Victor

    Very nice video but it doensnt finish the question. There are a large number of aspects and cities to be visited with the porpouse of showing how deep is Brazilian racism. It is encrusted to our mentality. Our race problem will not disappear as soon as we hope. But We must to have hope like said Abdias do Nascimento.
    by the end of the video You have left a little big mistake: IT DOENST MATTER OUR DNA COMPOSITION! OUR RACISM IS FUNDAMENTALY A SOCIAL ISSUE. We do are a HIBRID nation. BUT this quality is far from help to solve our brazilian every-day black people genocide.

  • Paul

    I always knew this…even with all the hoopla when White Western countries “find” Brazin.

    So true what Ac another psoter said said:

    “If you look at the economic stats, the majority of Blacks in Brazil are disenfranchised. I was there in 1996 and noticed that all white Brazilians hold over 99.9 percent of the wealth, hold the best jobs, hold the best opportunities, and have the best education. The system is set up so that elementary education has to be paid for and college is free. The disparities are systematic and are not going to change. Segregation is obvious.”

    Its like that in most Latin countries. most of these countries still operate on a COLONIAL SKIN COLOUR STRATA.

    And people who are in the middle of it, or white and part of that system cannot see it at all. While most of them can live in a life better that some many people in the U.S, have important jobs, have house maids, and can go on vacations…while the largest part, barely eke out a living.

    Dina Scherrer says: May 4, 2011 at 9:57 pm
    I am Brazilian and was so disappointed with the show…. Prof Gates had his on agenda and wants the world to believe there is a racial issue in Brazil.
    That is not true. Nobody cares about your color. There is no separation or segregation. There is true that blacks have a social disadvantage due to Brazil’s slave heritage , but the problem is to be solved with education, and not with this racial American mentality

    Yeah Diana, whats the story from White government and the large white wealthy families and companies who own and control most of the wealth.
    The quicker you drop that nonsense and look at the slums the better for everyone in Brazil..
    And easier it would be for Brazil to get a part piece of the new economic pie that’s currently developing.
    Brazil will have to do that if it wants to compete with India, China and other Asian countries

    I hate what I see in latin American countries and the way non white and dark skin latin people are treated AND their place in those society.

    Thats why when socially leaning people like Chavez get into office it always seems like a good thing at the start, as YOU HOPE THEY WOULD TRY AND START SOME SYSTEM AND REDISTRIBUTE THE WEALTH.

    I feel annoyed when I see White Colombians, Mexicans and Latin Americans studying at the colleges here in Canada, or taking taking English classes (I’m sure it’s the same in the States too). Because I know for them to be able to this they have to be rich. I feel that some NON WHITE Latin Americans, should have the same opportunity too.

  • Carlos R.

    As much as I admire Dr. Gates’ work in African American studies, this entire series for each country demonstrates that his expertise is NOT Latin American studies. Dr. Gates perspective in Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, Peru and the D.R were seen through the prizm of United States history as if the histories, traditions and ethnic identities of the latter countries were irrelevant or second class. He asks why Brazil has never had a civil rights movement like the US. Well, he assummes that Brazil had to have one like the United States. He failed to recognize that Brazil never had a civil war either, and it certainly would never have had a civil war over slavery. In the Dominican Republic he labeled everyone as black, when most mixed race people there do not consider themselves black per se, because black in the D.R. means very black. He failed to understand that the “one-drop” rule that plagues United States racial history is first of all a lie in the US, and second not applicable in Latin America. In Mexico, he said that the dance steps of the local were the influence of African percussion, when I saw the influence of Spain’s folkloric dances. Professor Gates saw what he wanted to see. Professor Gates had his own agenda.

  • Nikky

    I liked this series. 2 things I wanted to point out: First, with hair straigtening, something similar occurs in black Africa. The curly hair is often seen as difficult to manage and it is. Straigtening obviously makes one’s life easier. In Africa, it might not be equated to low self esteem as here.
    Second, Africa is a large continent. True, it has the largest population of black people. HOWEVER, Africa is NOT ALL BLACK. There are many Arabs and people of other descent living on the continent who are NOT black. Using Africa as a synonym for Black Africa really ignores the other peoples who live on our wonderful continent. It is my sincerest hope that we do not forget the other peoples who live on our continent when making movies about Africa. They are Africans. Remember that.

  • Ahmed Muse

    I would like to specify little more of what I have written above, what is happening here is a silent apartheid, the ciity where blacks are 90% out those who get hgher education are only10%, poverty among them are almost all,Blacks need revolution in which will free them from current situation, they must unite as one.

  • Ana

    It is sad that people don’t want to see the obvious. There is no racial democracy in Brasil. Most people are VERY racist, including the blacks who deny that they are black. The so many shades of black and brazilians want to hide on the skin they are in. If you are light skinned -Lucky you- Otherwise is a daily struggle to survive, without being arrested or killed. That’s the reality.
    It is so fake, that even the so called leader for blacks’ rights Abdias Nascimento, neglected a woman that he got pregnant in the 60’s and refused to accept responsibility over the black child he fathered. when my grandfather confronted him, he simply said NO to my mother and I.

  • Judith

    I am so very glad this series is repeating in Feb. 2012. I missed it last year. The Brazil entry is my first
    but I want view the entire series! Thanks to Dr. Gates and PBS for this enlightening experience.!!

  • Valerie

    I am late on this series but I’m glad it’s repeating on PBS now. I’ve always been a little infatuated with the history of Brazil since I’ve learned that more Africans were transported there during the slave trade than to America. From the outside looking in, you would think a country with such a beautiful array of colors in their people would not see race but I know better. I know many Brazilian people and they have informed me that Brazilians are more concern with class than race. Unfortunately the skin color issue and class issue go hand and hand.

  • Nicky Francis

    Firstly, As a black Uk born citizen living in Rio, I think Dr Gates did an excellent job of capturing the feelings & inequalities of being BLACK IN LATIN AMERICA. Brasil’s problems are complex. But one thing you can be sure of there is a strong elite/ One of us Culture. This means that you will get more dinner invites/ I’ll introduce you to my bank manager if your white or even better white Italian living in Brasil.
    On many ocassions I have been in meetings or situations where I am not treated the same as my counterparts, one example is someone talking down to you, as if you were a child.
    I suffered Racism in England growing up, & lived to see things slowly improving. The difference in Brazil is that because the colour mixture can range from being subtle, to opposite sides of the spectrum & they have lived side by side for so long, the hatred isn’t as harsh as it was as in England, where the ancestry of the country was white, & then, Black people landed & there was no way they could easily pass for white.So to feel the differences of being Black in Brazil , you would really need a month of being dark skinned & not just a day of being coffee coloured to feel 2nd class.
    As for the No.1 desireable woman in Brasil, I don’t know which state of Brasil some people are living in, but you only need to do a quick test here in Rio & take one ‘Morena’ & one real ‘Loira’ (blonde) onto the streets or club atmosphere & see who the Brasilian hits on & wants to marry ( not just fornicate) & the results will speak for themselves.
    Being black gains you very few advantages in Brazil, And its only sad that some Brasilians are still in denial.
    Slaves grafted their lives away in Latin America & people are quick to criticise affirmative action as a poor way to readdress the inbalances, but not so quick to offer a better alternative.
    If left to them they would simply say let bygones be bygones. I think If I was a slavemaster or brainwashed i’d say the same thing!

  • Simone

    As a Brazilian, I think this video is valuable to the extent that it shows partially the reality of race relations in Brazil, especially for Americans. However, it’s important to make it clear that elementary school and high school in Brazil is free, although the quality is questionable (it varies from state to state, city to city). There are public schools in some cities which make a difference, while many others are bad, the teachers are badly paid, and violence is the norm, pretty much the same as in the US. There are private schools which prepare better for the entrance exam for the public universities (which are not paid). However, now, students of African and indigenous descent, or coming from public schools, have quotas at the public universities, and at private ones too, through government programs that finance their studies.
    Concerning the beauty salons there are no separate ones for blacks, salons are a free space for every woman or man who wants to take care of their appearance (Brazilians love to look beautiful!). In this aspect, the whole population has much more access to these services than Americans do, because prices are not expensive as in the US. Brazilian women of low, middle, and upper classes go to the salon every week for manicure, pedicure, and have their hair done (for whatever service they want, not only to straighten hair).
    What happens is that almost every woman (not me!) does want to straigthen their hair, adhering to a fashion imported from the US. Even white women now go to salons to straight their hairs. It is true that there is a pervasive racism in Brazil, but we don’t see the tensions and separation as I see in the US, that claims to have resolved the race issues. At the university I go to as a grad student, for example, a few months ago, there was a painting on a tree displaying the KKK symbol… As a light-skinned black Brazilian, I was in fear for the first time because of my skin color and nationality.

  • Miguelina Giambastiani

    I am happy to have had the opportunity to watch this video produced by Dr. Gates and published by PBS. The learning experience in this video was both educational and helpful. Learning about the root of the African people that came to Brazil and later to the United States as slaves helped me to understand more the African American and Blacks in Latin America.

  • Laura Kimmick

    Excellent documentary! Please produce sequels of Black In Latin America. My friends watch the documentary with me on DVD. When my family and I were in Quito, Ecuador, I donated a non Blu-Ray DVD to the organization South American Explorers.

  • Brasilia

    Hello, anybody there lives here in Brazil? I dont mean Rio or Salvador, Brazil is more. There are not black or white there are poor and rich people. Come on awake!

  • Zuleide R Leonardo

    While watching this awesome video today, my computer has encountered technical difficulties.
    The same type of difficulties blacks in Latin America have been facing via despicable status quo Casa Grande, Sensala attitudes. I will not give up on watching the entire video. Every black latino need to make an effort to buy the video. How often black latin and south americans are ever on the tv spotlight?
    Although due to “technical difficulties” found on my view of this video today, the part I was able to watch was satisfiying….Finally! I now have a film reflecting how black brazilians and black latin americans have been treated all these years! Blacks in South and Latin Americans need to be united to be valued.
    When opportunities are open! The Status Quo only see the most black part of our faces and features.
    If you do not know about the Jim Crow laws in the US? Brazil has been adopting for so long on the TV and Media!
    Do not accept to be forced to see only one side of God’s Creation Types! If really God’s Creation!

  • André Kenji De Sousa

    “Most people are VERY racist, including the blacks who deny that they are black.”

    No, it´s not. Brazilians do not like to be classified by race, like Americans do. I´m a descendant of Japanese immigrants, but I hate to be called by names associated to Japanese or Asians because I´m a Brazilian. My friends that have Black African Ancestry have the same right than I do to say that they are Brazilians, not Black, African-whatever or what else.

    Besides that, Brazil is not a racial democracy, but AMericans are hardly the best people to say about what Brazilians should do about race.

  • Rosangela

    I am Brazilian! I was born there and lived there most of my life. To have this man , who in recent past, tried to transform a simple Police action into a racist action, go to my country and claim that we are racists is a disparage. This man is nothing but a junk intellectual. His over inflated pride on his alleged “intelligence” is laughable. We in Brazil, are not racist. I can can a black man nego, and the black man is not angry at me, no white man in USA can do what I do in Brazil. You will be eaten alive. In BRazil, we are not white or black. We are all mixed. Contrary to Americans, we believe that race is for dogs. You are no better than me because you have blue eyes. Unfortunately , in TV and movies, all the “good guys” were always white, all the magazines shows whites. That , of course, made the people who do not have straight hair think that something was wrong with their hair. But , today, we all know that the media lies to no end. And that , too, is a lie. How many beautiful curly hair I see in Brazil, and I am seeing here in the USA. What is not right , is that here in the USA, there is an exacerbation about being black. You guys have to learn to see a person by its heart and personality. Today, calling a black guy as black in USA is invitation for PC police to destroy you and this, my friend: IS RACISM against white. SO, learn with us, leave breed for dogs, where it belongs.

  • Rainor

    “One drop” rule is the most racist thing ever. If a guy has 1% of african blood (whatever that it means) he is considered “black”, even if his skinn are pale. And he can’t consider himself white ou european couse the “racist brigades” will call him a racist. That rule is the most pure nazism.

  • Fernando

    Good series, containing some inaccuracies though. The chapters on Cuba, Santo Domingo & Haiti and Brazil are great, but there should have been a chapter devoted to Colombia & Venezuela (both 20% of Blacks) and Uruguay (8%). Anyway, thanks for sharing with us such an interesting and dramatic history.

  • Marlon

    No matter what genes you have, what matters is whether you really looks black or white in Brazil or anywhere in the world, because nobody asks you if you black or white. Here in Brazil all live in peace, but with a lot of racism

  • Rodrigo

    I am Brazilian, and has a beauty salon for blacks or whites. In Brazil all are equal, and have the same rights.

Support for provided by:



Produced by WNET    ©2014 WNET. All Rights Reserved.