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Full Episode: Cuba: The Next Revolution

In Cuba Professor Gates finds out how the culture, religion, politics and music of this island are inextricably linked to the huge amount of slave labor imported to produce its enormously profitable 19th century sugar industry, and how race and racism have fared since Fidel Castro’s Communist revolution in 1959.

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  • Carlos Martin

    I looked forward to Dr. Gates’ treatment of history of Blacks in Cuba but I was a bit disappointed. Dr. Gates’ interveiws of people affiliated in one way or another with the regime should have been balanced with interviews of those that dissent. His brief visit with some hip-hop artists at the end of the piece fell far short of providing a balanced picture. Particularly since he squandered valuable time repeating the often recited slogans of US interference and influence in Cuba, and the repression of the Batista years before the coming of Castro. Dr. Gates did not take note (or ignored) the glaring discrepancy between the color of the majority of Cubans and the color of the ruling elite. All in all, hardly a balanced report.

  • Franklin

    I especially enjoyed last night’s episode on Cuba. It is amazing the lengths
    countries go to in order to dominate those of African origin.

  • Mrs C

    My husband and I watched this episode on 4/26/11. What we did not understand was why no mention was made of native people, only black and white, the black being former African slaves and the white being descendants of the Spanish conquerors. Were there no native people on the island of Cuba before the arrival of the Spaniards and what happened to them?

  • N.A.Crawford

    To say I am shocked is an understatement. but I am seeing here that when Castro took over Cuba, it was Communist at its start. but it was considered Communist in 1961 only AFTER the US took away the dollars needed to survive and Russia gave them the help it needed. WOW! I am so shocked. They made it look like Castro was evil but he was for the people.

  • DR.VEGAS

    I’m happily late for work …having watched this all the way through.It gave me a fuller grasp of the living history I experienced growing up in Miami during the 80’s & 90’s.Thank you professor Gates.

  • Sharecropper

    How can you have a discussion about Blacks in Cuba without mentioning the support of the Cuban people for the rights of Africans in Angola, Namibia, and South Africa. They were the only nation to send troops in support of African liberation struggles against imperialism, colonialism and apartheid.

  • Jonathan Jose Jackson III

    Knowing my peeps, this episode despite it’s superficial covering of racism in Cuba before 1959, has caused quite a wave of outrage among tradional Cuban exile radio and print.

  • Lavette Bell

    The racism that Blacks in the Caribbean and Latin America experience is not something new to me–I’ve known about it all of my life, however, I do feel that it is horrible how Blacks are treated over there; frankly, I feel that Blacks contribute to their own oppression in wallowing in ignorance about themselves, their history and contributions and the will to DO SOMETHING that will change their countries and laws.

    If Blacks in the United States can achieve what we did through our efforts during and after slavery; Blacks in Latin America and the Caribbean have no excuse.

  • del

    i think they should not oppress the majority of their country like that because they will never succeed.

  • Claire Barker

    In 2006, I visited Cuba through Global Exchange to study sustainable farming. One of our group was a black South African, who was routinely denied permission to our hotels in various cities because the security police thought he was a black Cuban. At that time no Cubans were allowed to enter the front door of tourist hotels unless they were guides; clearly no black Cuban would be thought to be a guide. Our group wrote about this discrimination to the ministry in charge of exchange programs, but we never received a reply.

    Our guide told us that black Cubans are also discriminated against in getting tourism jobs, since European tourists in particular prefer to be waited on by non-blacks.

    Both of these instances seem to me to be ‘institutional racism,’ in that the government could address them through a change in policy.

    I am also interested to know what gives Prof. Gates hope that racism of the mind and heart in Cuba will be done away with. Does he have an equally optimistic hope about racism in the US?

  • AC

    I don’t see racism ending at all. All throughout history tribalism then colonialism/neo-colonialism remain a powerful part of the institutions that make the few remain in power. Wishing for it to end is very naive and begs rational understanding of the greed and white power-brokers need to remain superior. Unfortunately and sadly black will always be viewed as inferior and white will always be viewed at superior. This notion is woven in every aspect of our lives.

  • Yvette

    I knew a little about the history of Haiti and the Dominican Republic as well as Cuba and some of the other islands, however, the first two shows illuminated for me just how self-loathing Dominicans of African descent are about themselves. I live in NYC and have Dominican neighbors and they are racist towards African-Americans much like they are towards the other people of African descent with whom they share an island. It is truly sad. It clarifies for me what I’ve known at a gut level for many years now. Likewise, the Puerto Ricans who live in my neighborhood , though many are clearly of African descent, have many of the same issues and try to deny their African ancestry.

    I have Puerto Rican neighbors who live three doors down the hall from me and who’ve lived there for twenty or more years and have never even had the good courtesy or manners to say good morning. I don’t believe, of course, that this is indicative of all Puerto Ricans or Dominicans, but it speaks volumes about the systemic racism with which they have been indoctrinated.

    I could not believe while watching the first episode the racist imagery portrayed by many of the items sold in stores in Santo Domingo; one would have thought it was the American South with the Sambo imagery on display.

    Their minds have been thoroughly colonized. As for Cuba, I am dismayed that the same pathology that seems rampant in D.R. and Puerto Rico is alive and well in Cuba as well.

    A former Haitian friend of mine once remarked that Dominicans often told him that he was not Haitian; it was impossible that he was Haitian. Apparently, they don’t know that light-complexioned Haitians actually do exist. It’s just one example of how thoroughly brainwashed and colonized their minds are as it relates to race and color.

  • Aisha

    Well done Dr. Gates and PBS, another excellent documentary!

  • Chepe borrajo

    he try to see another world of the cubans (black) but he never
    interview any cuban who figth for the freedom of all cubans( white and black)
    manny of the humans rigths activist are “black cubans”…
    in cuban all people are cubans…Jose Marti say
    cubans are more of white,black or mulatos
    Profesor Gates only saw the world in two colors : white and black
    and this is not the case of Cuba…freedom and human rigths not have
    who manny black cubans are in the Communist party and the Govermment?
    and profesor gates no talk about this…
    his programs is a apology of Castro’s Goverment…shame to him
    colors….
    Chepe Borrajo

  • Dana

    Wonderful Job, Prof. Gates. I love your series.

  • Tony White, Ph.D.

    As a somewhat frequent visitor to Cuba, I am aware that some Cubans are better off because of what their relatives send to them from the states. Given the low monthly salary of less than $20, any money or goods sent to Cuba make the recipients better off than the average Cuban. Since the majority of the early refugees were wealthy white Cubans, hence their success in Florida, later refugees, especially during the Mariel exodus, were from the lower classes and more Afro-Cuban. Not only did they not arrive with wealth, connections or skills, they probably fared less well in Florida and therefore, have less to send back to their families in Cuba.

    This is not meant to undermine Dr. Gates’ perspective, only to suggest another factor. Clearly the Revolution has addressed institutional racism and Afro-Cubans and women could be said to be the major beneficiaries of the Revolution. However, deeply rooted prejudices and attitudes are difficult to erase and an influx of Europeans and North Americans might be undermining the efforts to change.

  • Loiska Jerez

    Racism within black cubans was revealed to me by the same black and white cuans right here in Union City, zNJ. It almost killed me and affected me mentally, since 2000, when I moved here from Brooklyn, NY. I never knew what racism or hatred for being black was until I lived among black Cubans who hated being black and refused to be seen or have children with blacks. I have developed a personal hatred for Cubans that I cannot shake. Do not be fooled by them. What comes out of their mouths behind closed doors, will shock even Hitler. Excuse my errors inthis writing. I can’t get to the mistakes to correct them.

  • Evelyn

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS SERIES!! It is truly amazing. It’s like looking at “Roots” when I was a child. I could not wait for the next episode and I feel the same about this.

    One (of many) thing said in this episode, that struck me was how Cuban’s describe themselves. I am an “American, who is black”. I wrote that so that I can feel how odd it is to even think this as a description of myself. Why is this so easy to say for the Cubans and so hard for us, in the United States to say ?

  • V Parker

    great story!!

  • Kevin

    Bravo Professor Gates

  • Abena Ray

    A great granddaughter of ex-slaved Africans, I am Cuban-African! I thank you for shedding knowledge (”light”) on Cuban relations! It is invigorating to know that the story of grandparents and great grandparents has a legitimately public voice. Thank you for your research in Cuba!

  • Sara

    Dr. Gates’s series of Black in Latin America is a great beginner. Of course it’s not a complete anthology but, only scratches the surface.
    In this instance Dr. Gates forgot to mention that in the same vein as General Antonio Maceo fought for independence against Spain, now in Cuba the great disident leaders are also black: Oscar Elias Biscet, Antunez, Y Orlando Zapata Tamayo a martir who died on a hunger strike for the liberation of political prisoners are just a few.
    Why these leaders are black if the Revolution was taylor made for them? Because it’s a myth.
    Blacks in Cuba are more discriminated now than before the revolution.
    Can’t wait to see the rest of the series.
    Excellent!

  • H.ace

    in reply to Mrs C.

    Before Columbus’s arrival there were natives on the land but he and his people killed many of them. There weren’t many left which why he probably didnt mention them, because the integral races that form “latinos in the caribbean” are those of African and Spanish descent.

  • WillEdAlex

    Gee I was ready to comment a few days ago and might have been amongst the first to do so, depending upon the publication lag. I travel to Cuba at least yearly as a cdn tourist and do so because my tourist dollars aide a country that can use all the help possible, and I get a sun holiday out of the deal, on the cheap.

    To simplify, Dr. Gates did accurately describe the inequalities of just who gets the plum jobs associated with the tourist trade. however in his comparison between the 20 CUC vs the 20 Cuban Pesos job, he failed to point out that the difference is not paid by the employer or state, (unless that would have been stating the obvious) its the tourist who tip the hotel and bar staff that make up the difference in wages. Otherwise A waiter in a bar gets the same wages from their employer. At one of my preferred hotels in Cuba — it’s a 2 star rough & ready place — often no hot water or they always run out of some staple — there was a pretty big revolt amongst the staff at the end of the 2008/2009 tourist season. It was about tipping and who gets it or not. The kitchen staff and some of the barman felt cheated because the dining room waitresses and waiters always got loads of tips. Often well beyond the 20 cuc/day alleged in the film. So the have-not staff wanted a cut — 5 cuc a week from each of the dining room waiting staff to go into a pot and be divided amongst the bar and kitchen staff. A tiny concession as far as I could see since I easily tipped 10 cuc in the dining room weekly….often more. And many other tourists did the same. And look at what else is happening through this revolt : this is a democratic process at work. But shhhhh…. dont tell anyone that there might be the natural functions of a democracy at a local level in a communist state.

    (i’d also add that most o f the chambermaids at the hotels I’ve frequented in Cuba –especially in Santiago de Cuba Province — are Black, and I use the word Black Without derogation as their skin colour is the the darkest as you would see in Angola, for example. And the chambermaids do alright as well. I tip typically 4 or 5 cuc per week because they’re in my room when I am not, and while most would never steal from tourists — it can happen to them where the chambermaid is a basic victim, typically of a hotel guard or grounds staff who will slip into the room while it’s being cleaned and threaten the maid to hand over some cash or he will steal something form the room….so sadly the tips help to offset some of this damage — she offers the thief some hard cash and he goes away….protection money I suppose. )

    On the whole and beyond, I enjoyed this segment of Black in Latin America and I will buy a copy once the DVD is available. Hell I even saw at least on local Santiaguera in the film — a girl leaning against a tree wearing a yellow top staring into the Camera. ¡Hola Sara! Hasta Pronto.

  • Luis

    Great work Dr Gates!

  • DR.VEGAS

    Here’s the thing: How bright can the future be for Afro-Cubans? As Dr.Gates has pointed out-informal “soft” racism has still undermined the advancement of black people in that society.One can probably assume that whenever the Castro’s exit the scene (way overdue imo) that a wealthy white exile community will no doubt impose-or reimpose-some form of “Jim Crow” society. Does’nt appear to be a “winner” either way.

  • DR.VEGAS

    @CARLOS MARTIN:

    Would you like to suggest / point to a time in Cuban history when it’s black citizens “had it good”?
    I agree with your implication that the Castro regime has been & continues to be a murderous,soul crushing,
    THUGNOCRACY.Still…when has it NOT been that for Afro-Cubans -no matter who was in charge? Indeed…it’s waaay past time the Castro’s left the scene.Do you have confidence that whatever takes it’s place (probably including some exile involvement) will deliver any improvement to lives & goals of black Cubans?

  • Martina

    Those who think that Cubans who arrived in the United
    States in the 1960’s came with wealth are VERY MISTAKEN! We all came with no money. All money, property, and anything of any value was taken away by the government prior to departure. It was common to strip search those leaving the country, including children, to see if anything else was hidden that could be of use to the government. To suggest that those who left early had it easy is extremely naive and erroneous.My father had been a practicing dentist for 12 years in Cuba and in the United States he had to work cleaning rat cages in a cancer research facility. My mother had a PHD in Cuba and began working washing dishes in a hospital when she came to the United States. My father had to go back to dental school all over again in the United States and my mother also had to return to school. The refugees who came in the 1960’s were successful because they struggled, and I mean struggled, and sacrificed much to make a good life for themselves and their children. Nothing was handed down to us and any goals we achieved were through hard work and determination. Castro is a DICTATOR who has abused his own people, black and white (and any shade in between) for his own personal benefit.

  • S.P.

    I find it interesting that no connection between racism in the tourism industry and racism among the tourists is made. If you go to a resort in Varadero that caters to Italian guests, you will find lighter skinned workers. If you go to a resort that caters to a more diverse tourism group (ie Spanish, Italian, Canadian, etc), you will find a more diverse staff. It is mentioned that prejudiced portrayed by American relatives in reflected in Cuba, but it is so much more than that. Economics plays it’s role in racism in Cuba, as it does everywhere.

    I also wanted to respond to the comment about a black Cuban not being allowed into a hotel. ALL Cubans were banned from tourist establishments until recentlym regardless of skin tone. Just as I, as a tourist(regardless of skin colour), was not allowed to be carried in certain taxis, in carriages, and other forms of transportation. Even though these rules have been abolished, I still face discrimination in the form of being refused transportation and the Cuban may still be refused access to that hotel.

  • Raul

    As I watched your production: Cuba the Next Revolution, I wondered how the research on the subject of race was conducted. While it is true that the Spanish brought people from Africa as slaves, it is not correct when it states that this was done so they “could handle their large sugar production.” That is in the first 5 minutes of the show.
    The Spanish made one mistake after landing in Cuba in 1492 and that was that they eliminated the majority of the indian population, Siboney, as they were called then. Close to 90% of the aborigines were eliminated by brute force or illnesses (chicken pox, etc.) that the Spanish brought from Europe, and as such, they had to reach out to a different source, in this case Africa.

    I was born in Cuba in 1945 and the so called discrimination mentioned on this show was minimal. For example, I was amazed when I arrived in the US (1962) and found out that blacks had to sit on the back of the bus, as that did not happen in Cuba. A restaurant for whites and one for blacks, that did not happen in Cuba, and that is just to name two.

    What is happening now, or since 1962 that I left the island I cannot tell you about, but I do recall that the racism that they comment on did not exist.

    I left the island when I was 16 years old and while my family might have been what they used to call middle class, we certainly were not rich, in case you are wondering about that part.

    PBS tends to have great shows and the research also tends to be real, not so in this occasion.

    A disappointed PBS viewer.

  • kiana

    For those who keep wondering about the Aboriginal natives of the island , why he didn’t include them in the film, i think he really wanted to just focus on the relations between “blacks” and “whites”…Most natives had been mixed w/ the blacks and whites any how….

  • Raul

    Mrs. C asks why there was no mention of the people that lived on the island before the Spanish got there. Truth is that they made the mistake of eliminating about 50% to 55% of them, and close to 40% died from sickness brought from Europe, such as chicken pox.
    A similar thing happened in Mexico, but it was not as harmful as the indian population lived much deeper than on the island of Cuba.

  • Raul

    Mr. Tony White, Ph.D. says that the first group of people that left the island had either connections or knew others, like family, that could get them jobs.
    I beg to differ, sir, as I was placed in a camp near Miami in 1962 and as my parents were still in Cuba. I stayed in that camp for close to 4 monts and while some think that such a “life” is easy. it actually not, as I never knew if I would ever see my parents again. The majority of those Cubans might have been white, but not all, as you state. Myy first job was not flipping burgers either, but cleaning toilets. I guess I did not have that “connection” you metion?
    On any given day I would say that if you find a Cuban you find someone that will get the job done and he or she is ambitious. Of course they will move up in the world, but keep in mind that that drive is what keeps us going.

  • Mike

    I have visited Cuba and enjoy talking to the people on the streets who live in Cuba. Castro has done a very good job for his people, do not believe the media negative stories, it best to see if for yourself.

  • A Jungers

    I greatly appreciated Dr. Gates’ presentation. We have to realise the difficulties under which he was working, and the amazing job he did despite those. Is it perfect?, No. Racism persists in this country, as it persists in Cuba and part of that is an economic reality. Cuba made major advances that were unthinkable in this country through the 1960s in education and medicine, and there are those who are attempting to turn back the clock even here and now. The Tea Party has a strong strain of the John Birch Society, and a great hold on the American consciousness. It is only as we face the truth of the facts in our history that we can hope to overcome the disparity between Black and White in our hemisphere. Cuba’s two tiered economy has to end, and the basics of health and education have to be equally available to all in this country as it is there. We can and must learn from each other.

  • A.V

    Just the way many things take place in life, by chance I run across this page and since it is about my country I felt interested in reading peoples views. Unfortunately, I have not seen professor Gate’s play. It doesn’t seem to be available. So I can’t make any comment about it. However I could add a little to your comments from my point of views. First I should say that I sincerely respect all points of views stated here and feel happy to have you concerned about my country, event if we might not agree upon some things. With that principle in mind and always looking at things with a constructive exchange approach we will get the best result in any communication we might have. Taking also into account that our ideas will always be based on our own experience.
    I am Cuban, I am black. I don’t feel uncomfortable saying it. I know, even in our days there is a differentiation of people based on skin color. But that is an inevitable thing as long as the government an social institutions, sometimes unaware of it ,will be promoting this color differences. Thus planting in the new generation minds a perpetuation seed of racism. We can not say we have not made great progress but still there are vestiges of these differentiation. I am Cuban, I am black, I was saying it because I read in somebody’s comment that it felt odd to say. Black is just the color of my skin and that’s how I think of if. I don’t think of it as the historically exploited, Illiterate and driven to hard labor and looked down African negro. In America or should I say in English speaking countries, this word is despicable in all instances. However, you can find people called mi negro ” Mi negro’ in Spanish, expressing affection. Certainly it will depend on the case and the way the word is uttered. You can find it sometimes use to degrade people. Mostly when people get angry. I doesn’t not have to be a white skin people. It’s the historical image that we have, and we might feel offended it we are called out like that. It is all in our mind. We can not blame ourselves for been born black. We can not blame the present generation for what happened in the past to the Africans leading to this historical legacy. But I do think we can blame ourselves for the way we might handle this topic nowadays and the way it will transfer to the new generation. It is a Psycho-social phenomenon, I think and it should be deal with a such. All men are equal independently of their color so we all should enjoy the same rights. I could not agree more with Jose Marti, Cuba’s national heroe, when he said: There is only one race, the Human race. But this thin is a little bit more complicated than that, and I don’t want to get into that. But just to give you an idea of what I mean, I want you to think of yourself going to another country an be a part of the minority group in it. Then you are a foreigner But what if in our space race we find there are other kind of people who peacefully want to come to our world. Then they alien. do you see what I mean? As I said before, whatever we think Is always based on what we have been able to gather ourselves through out our life and we cling to it as our truth. But this kind of exchanges will teach us, whether our true is just the rule or an exception of the rule. Keeping in mind that other people way of thinking is also based on their own experiences. So we should respect that and try to learn from one another.
    I am Cuban I am Black and I worked as a tour guide myself. So, it is not the case that blacks were no suppose to be guide or that european would not like to be served by a black man. It sounds like a terrible illness. Hahaha! If that would be the case Europeans would not choose cuba as a destination. And I can tell you, without been too pretentious, that they like cuba destination.
    I had experience myself of being stop by the police once, while I was making a city tour. You could not imagine how embarrassed I felt in front of my group. I did feel angry but he was just doing his work, After he checked everything was Ok I could proceed with my work. who knows what he had in his mind when he approached me. One thing I can tell you, It is true that cubans were not allow to make hotel reservation till recently in the spirit of keeping the same rights for everyone, since all cuban could not afford to pay that kind of service. I remember now I read some where something that Ernesto Guevara (El Che) had said in a given situation: If there is not enough coffee for everyone nobody drinks coffee. That’ s the kind of social equality that I think was pursuit in Cuba’s society. Tourism was an industry that gain momentum in Cuba in the 90’s and at the time, since the country had dived into what came to be Known a Special Period, a time when we lack many of the basic domestic products as a whole, among the measures that were taken to protect tourist was keeping Cubans away from the hotel resorts so that tourist would not be disturb. If you’d ask me as cuban how I felt about it. I didn’t like it at all. But I do Know that it did help somehow, to the security of the tourist visiting the country giving the country a reputation as a secure destination. Presently, Cuba revolution has enter a new stage and some of the things that were not allowed before are becoming possible. There are many things to be done. And as I said before, with your critical but constructive exchange of point of view you can help us see more of just view things from an unthought of angle. But it should all be left to the cuban to decide what route they want their society to take. It not only applies for Cuba but for the whole world in general. Thus, we will avoid despicable interventions leading to wars that would ruin rather than construct society. We came to this world to live and construct, not to kill and destroy. Though man’s history could be collected as one, within it there are hundreds of history depending of the area. We can all benefit from each of our accumulated experiences to built what we consider the best for us. Knowing that what might be the best for A society at a given point might not be the best for B society. They might have taken different roads to get to that point. And even in the case the had taken the same road, each of them might have had a special way to get there. So that it might not be ready for what we might be suggesting. That ’s why we should no impose but propose society models.

    I thank you all for thinking about my country and giving your heartfelt ideas.

    Hope to see one day professor Gate’s Production

  • Lorenzo BUTCH Fernandes

    I always knew that USA had a major role in alot Governments . But to have them get into the cuba, and bringi it’s race issue Bull. Really hurt me to my core. And for Castro to let it keep going. Black and white being cut in two.
    I have grown up hating Cuba for no real valid reason. Now, I have a a whole new view of this country and it’s people. I want to know more about the Black leaders that fought and died for their beliefs, That had so much to do with cuba, and it’s fight for freedom from it’s mad dicatorship.
    Thank you, and thank you for letting me meet and understand Cuba, and knowing Jose Garcia ( a friend )

  • Lena

    I enjoyed watching this documentary.

  • Ochoa

    Very informative history. From the information presented here it seems like majority of Cubans have tried very hard to eliminate racism, but foreign influences have had a lot to do with its persistence. Some measure of equality was gained during their battles for independence from Spain, but this was undermined when the US replaced Spain as a colonial power to run sugar plantations and casinos, catering to rich white people Of course they needed black people to do all the menial labor. During the Bautista era the US supported Bautista and his racist policies.

    After the revolution they again tried to officially eliminate racism when Castro mandated education, literacy and health care for everyone, but the exodus of wealthy Cubans and American money is almost reminiscent of how Haiti was treated by US and France after their revolution. US embargo and Soviet collapse, dependence on European tourists are economic forces which increase racial inequity.

    So many negative influences from outside, almost like racism is re-introduced as one of the Cubans interviewed put it, “like a disease.” Perhaps racism in Cuba will only end when racist attitudes of Americans and Europeans are put to rest.

  • VanShun

    The responses have informed me just as much as this episode…. Thank you!

  • Johny

    I have been to Cuba this year for the first time. My mentor is Cuban. We work in the same place and in the office people consider me the black guy and refuse to accept the fact that he’s black. They call him Hispanic and he corrects them and says all the time “I’m Cuban and Black”. He gets furious when people continue to suggest he is Hispanic not black. He’s about Professor Gate’s complexion. I realized in Cuba why he stands so proudly against any other suggestion then him being black. His entire family are my complexion and I am a dark skinned black Haitian.

    He explained his family are direct descendants of Africa and he’s very proud of this. He fought in Angola for the Cuban army. He has visited Africa many times for the Cuban government and he is a stern believer and defender of the revolution. Cuba has been the best experience of my life. Also my mentor Juan approves this documentary.

  • Mary Jane Perez Cornielle

    EXCELLENT DOCUMENTARY! I am satisfied with its presentation. It validated what I have always said since I was a student in College in 1971, that WHITE CUBANS are extremely RACIST. That is my fear that when the doors are open again, the White Cubans living in Miami, those who I doubt will return, will resume to abolish, free education, and health care to ALL cubans, especially the BLACK, and MULATOS. It would be an ideal situation if all people would just be seen as Cubans, and not divided into racial categories.
    I would like to quote my mother, who is a Mulato; “ITS NOT A SHAME TO BE BLACK, WHAT IS A SHAME, IS WHAT THEY DO TU US, FOR BEING BLACK.” (Patria Ycelsa Cornielle)

  • JORGE HERNÁNDEZ-VÁSQUEZ

    Quite sad to see the current state of Cuba. Of Caribbean ancestry myself, I’ve never forgotten the lives we’ve lived as second- class citizens. Some fair skin immigrants to The Islands actually still teach and instill a misguided philosophy to their children and grand children that all the darker complexion people of the Caribbean were accepted as ‘a condition’ or appendix to any internationally recognizeable charter of independence, when history clearly documented that it was because of OUR solidarity and sincerity that the Caribbean is free and respected. Surely if politicians and scholars unilaterally embraced and promoted a modern humility, all would benefit from the creativity, loving and resourceful nature we have and hold dear.

  • jeanette1

    THANK YOU!!!!!

  • Herifonso

    As an African-American/Puerto Rican I have watch your program with great interest. My mother is Afro-American and my father was Puerto Rican with almost all his family still living on the island. I love and respect all the different blood and genes that went into the creation of whom I am today and have and will never choose one over the other. I have been challenge by those on both sides to make a decision but for me to do that would be like me denying the other side. THAT I could never do. Dr. Gates hits on many issues which strikes a sensitive cord in the Latin American community but it is one long over due to be acknowledge.

  • Elvin

    I know many would argue that this documentary was a bit bias, but we have to remember this is from the point of view of a Black American, I think the series, Black in Latin America, is a great expose of what has happen to the blacks in those countries, we all (Black Folk) have a shared experience in this western hemisphere. America has alot of involvement in the success of Latin America, we have to own up to that responsibiltiy and make some corrective changes to help those countries with out interfering in their domestic problems, but that could be pushing for to much. I’ve learned alot, thanks Mr. Gates, I hope we can continue this series with more work in the Latin communities, and the African communities as well.

  • brandon

    @sharecropper: right on, man. I see you. “How can you have a discussion about Blacks in Cuba without mentioning the support of the Cuban people for the rights of Africans in Angola, Namibia, and South Africa? They were the only nation to send troops in support of African liberation struggles against imperialism, colonialism and apartheid.”

  • Ibu Folosade

    Professor Gates,

    As a practitioner of Cuban Lucumi or Regla de Ocha, I am saddened to see your use of the term, “Santeria” in this documentary. Many community members have rejected this term, which was given by the slave masters to mock the fervor with which slaves practiced their traditional beliefs. Considering the subject of this series – it would have been wise to refer to the name of the practice used amongst believers: Lucumi, which means “friendship” or Regla de Ocha, which means “the Rules of Ocha/Orisha.” Santeria is an outdated term that is offensive and has many negative conotations. Just as Vodouisants reject the spelling “Voodoo” to refer to their beliefs, many progressive Olorishas reject the term “Santeria.”
    However, I do applaud this series and thank you for exploring the subject of what it means to be black in Latin America.

    Ache,
    Ibu Folosade

  • c. johanna ed.

    i was overall disappointed with this series, as i continue to be disappointed with dr. gates’ perspective of blackness.

    white supremacy and elitism continues to be evident in the majority of intellectuals (and the mere fact that the conversations are centered around those with elite education, and not from a broader perspective) he chooses to interview: latin americans of light-skinned tones. these are the people who continue to benefit from this ideal of exceptionalism, without a further examination of the psychological implications of white supremacy/racism. he mentions (and his favoring for this ideology is showcased) that afro-cubans identify first with their nationality, and then their race, whereas african-americans denote the opposite. what he fails to realize is that within this framework, afro-cubans do not want to align themselves with their blackness, because it is not idealized within society. that is evident in how white supremacy manifest itself in daily interactions. so, instead, it is shrouded in the hopes of creating pluralism and diversity amongst the people, a denial of the varied experiences of people based on their skin color.

    dr. gates also showcases his allegiance to male-centered discussions. where is the discussion of contributions of women in the history of latin america? the only other women we see in this documentary episode (other than the intellectuals and the descendant of the great black leader) are within the sexist gaze: the dancing and celebration during the carnivale, their bodies objectified. and i need not say what skin color those women possessed…

    i can’t believe that the much effort involved in this project did not allow for a more critical examination of this issue, but instead, a light-hearted, surface-y affair. and within that critical examination should bring not just hope, and its concomitant complacency, but action towards the eradication of this ideology. why? because people are suffering (especially the self-esteem of people of african descent), on all fronts, and it is unacceptable.

  • Luis

    I have a lot of respect for Professor Gates; however, his documentary is incomplete. He should have interviewed more individuals of different backgrounds (just to mention one of the flaws).

    To Carlos Martin: To answer your point regarding the disparity of the ruling elite. You would have to search back and see that the African/Black/Negro contribution to the revolutionary movement (from the time while Fidel Castro was attending University of Havana to the time in Mexico to back in the Island) was very insignificant. You would also have to search to find that while there are no private schools or Ivy Leagues and we all learned the same through the same school system, the number of blacks that enter our Universities are significantly lower compared to non-blacks. A quick tour at the Universities can prove my point.
    To Mrs C: Unfortunately there are none. They never accepted the occupation by the Europeans and were exterminated.
    A last point, talking about GDP figures from Cuba is as science fiction as any individual saying he/she knows the CIA next move. Those figures are not available even to academics, professors or professional in the Island.
    Great idea but an unfinished product that is missing not just a little piece!

  • S Crawford

    As a historian of Afro-Latin America, Prof. Gates did a very good job laying out the contours of the experience of Africans in Cuba from the late 18th to late 20th centuries. Unlike the previous episode on Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Gates moved viewers to the key issues (Cuba becomes the leading sugar producer after the Haitian Revolution; role of Afro-Cubans in independence struggle; whitening process; suppression and later acceptance of Afro-Cuban music; and finally, the impact of the Cuban Revolution on the Afro-Cuban population) which intellectuals both in the U.S. and Cuba have greatly enhanced our knowledge of these moments.

    Yes, it would have been nicer to get a broader array of voices discussing how Afro-Cubans fared in a post-revolutionary Cuba. However, this episode gave the non-specialist a clear and comprehensive view of Afro-Cuban history without having to read hundreds of books and articles.

    Viewers interested in a different perspective of being black during and after the revolution, see Carlos Moore’s Pichon: Race and Revolution (I am at a lost with the correct title).

    I hope the next two episodes follow more in this vein than in the Haiti & Dominican Republic episode.

  • Pablo(Zulu) Ferrer

    El Racismo Paternalista no deja de ser …” Racismo.” Asimilas los valores de los ” blancos ” y tú alma cambia de color.Paternalistic racism is still… ” Racism ” Assimilate white people’s values and your soul will change its color.

  • Neisi Garcia

    I was born and raised in Cuba and I must say this is very one sided. I understand that for an American person to be able to get in Cuba and develop a documentary and interview professors, he better make sure he is not presenting the Revolution in a negative light…so much for free speech or “Cuba libre y soverana” (sovereign and free Cuba) as we all have to say or better yet pretend under Castro’s regime. True, Cuban racism is different in form than racism in America and Cubans consider themselves Cubans first and proudly. But I must agree with Dr. Carlos Martin the this is hardly a balance portrayal of Cuban racial relations. May be for everyone at the bottom there is more racial equality. Because at that point you are too concerned with making sure you can eat and take care of the most basic needs, so race becomes secondary. But Cuban’s elite is and has been for many years dominated by whites, i.e same white president for over 50 years!! and everyone in line behind him….WHITE. You would need to go much more in depth than this to dissect Cuban race relations…nice try though.

  • JoAnn deArmas Wallace

    This is a very interesting perspective on Cuba for me. My father immigrated from Cuba in the 1930s and swore there was no black blood in our family. I do genealogy and look forward to finding ALL of my roots including the African. Even as an 11 year old child visiting Cuba, I noticed the separation by color and was disturbed by it.

    I found one aspect of the program jarring however. As an academic and brilliant commentator, Dr. Gates might have found time to have someone teach him the correct pronunciation of Cuban names and places. I hope this will not be true in the rest of the places in Latin America. One does not need to speak unaccented Spanish or Portuguese, but it is a sign of respect to learn how to say names correctly.

  • TJ

    Dr. Gates,

    Don’t stop with the Latin Island… Now go to Hawaii’ and trace the roots of the people that made up these islands. As I was informed by a native, the King who united the islands into what was then the Kingdom of Hawaii’ was a Black man. A Blackman who’s statue is in front of the Royal Palace in Honolulu.

    Like Haiti and Cuba, the U.S. and wealthy white American businessmen overthrew this island nation, sent in the Marine Corps to secure it for them. Also look at General Smedley Butler book, “War is a Racket”! In the book he describe how as a 2 time Medal of Honor winner how the U.S. Government used him and the Marine Corps as hired thugs to take nations like Haiti and Honduras in the interest of these businessmen.

    Something that was never taught here in the states!

  • anthronerd

    @ Mrs. C – As with the other Caribbean islands, the indigenous population in Cuba was annihilated before they began importing enslaved Africans.

  • Raul Ramos y Sanchez

    Dr. Gates has made an admirable attempt to portray the long and complex history of Cuba’s racial identity in less than an hour. Naturally, some elements are missing or compressed.

    One notable omission is an explanation for the absence of any significant indigenous ancestry among Cuba’s population. The main reason for this is the tragic epidemics brought by European diseases following the arrival of Columbus in 1492. Cuba’s natives had no immunities to European diseases such as smallpox, influenza and measles. Within 100 years after the first contact with Europeans, virtually the entire native population of the sparsely populated island had died. As a result, most Cubans are either of European or African ancestry. This stands in contrast to many Latin American nations including the nearest neighbor to the United States, Mexico, where a majority of people are of indigenous descent.

    Another of the episode’s historical abbreviations is attributing the growth of African slavery in Cuba solely to the sugar plantation economy. Even before sugar became the white gold of the Caribbean mined by Spain, France and England with the blood and sweat of African slaves on the archipelago’s islands, Cuba had a shortage of laborers. As noted previously, the massive deaths of the indigenous populations compelled the often-haughty Spanish colonizers to import African slaves for agricultural and domestic labor. So the African influx into Cuban came early, albeit at a much reduced pace.

    Despite these understandable omissions, I believe the essence of Dr. Gates’ reporting is accurate. The nation has never lived up to Jose Marti’s ideal of an egalitarian society “by all and for all.” Nor is Cuba the socialist racial paradise Castro would have you believe. But as a Cuban, I take pride in our diverse heritage and the progress the island has made toward the ideals on which an independent Cuba was founded. Cuba still has a very long way to go before those ideals are met. All the same, there is a lot the United States can learn from this small island when it comes to race relations.

  • Juan Alonso

    Great documentaty.
    @ Carlos Martin: you may not know that people in cuba are put in a dangerous position if they speak of dissent, especially on camera. I’m sure Dr Gates did not want to jeopardize anyone with no way out.

  • Aishley

    @My husband and I watched this episode on 4/26/11. What we did not understand was why no mention was made of native people, only black and white, the black being former African slaves and the white being descendants of the Spanish conquerors. Were there no native people on the island of Cuba before the arrival of the Spaniards and what happened to them?

    The native people were eradicated mostly by disease brought to the island by the Spanish.

  • kim

    @Evelyn…My experience has been that very few African-descended people want to be thought of as African-Americans (those of us who were socialized and live in the US), so they say, “American, who is black.” It’s sad.

  • BOB BROWN

    What a wonderful history lesson,what a fantastic conversation .Judging by comments here and on the DR/HAITI piece, it appears some of us are deaf and blind as we can’t seem to make the connect that this series is about being Black in Latin America.Black,not Indio,not Spanish, Jewish or Arab,etc..Our acting as if some slight was intended because not enough credence was paid to all possible ethnic DNA strings, tells me one thing. Many in the world are not now,and perhaps will never be, totally accepting of AFRICAN DNA.I have been known to share with close friends the fact that GOD has been conducting an experiement with us here on earth.He wants to know how we are going to accept the fact that HE is BLACK!!!!!!!!!!.Maybe some will choose to leave HEAVEN WHEN THIS DIVINE COMEDY is played out..We are all Black,if you don’t believe me ,get your DNA report. REMEMBER THIS IS A ONE HOUR PRESENTATION AND IT CAN’T BE ALL INCLUSIVE.

  • keith

    I really enjoed Dr. Gates foray into this topic. I think it is important that we(African-Americans) know that the same struggles we face in this coutnry are being experienced by our brethen in other countries. I was particularly proud to know that Africans and people of color played such an important role in the fight for independence. The fact that these things were not related in academia and popular culture is no surprise. I think education is the key to ending racism. The more people know the truth about the struggles and triumphs of African people, the harder it will be to refute them. The only thing that I wish Dr. Gates had done more of is explore the thoughts and feelings of the younger people. I say this because while it seemed that Castro was trying to establish equal rights, the world is regressing in this area. The older people interviewed were the recipients of change so they saw improvements and thus are able to say things got better. This no different than the Civil rights struggle in America. It created change and put blacks into the mainstream. However, we are seeing a serious regression with way too many blacks being relegated to a permanent underclass in America. The hotel scene was probably more realistic of the way things are in Cuba.

  • Mitch

    Yes it was unfortunate that the native peoples of Cuban history were not even briefly described in the documentary. There was a great native population in Cuba, they have a unique and fascinating history. The ‘Taino’ Indians were the principle native peoples of Cuba, and they were present before the arrive of Columbus in 1492 in Baracoa. The Taino people were from the South American mainland, from parts of Venezuela and other countries, and they made their way up the Antilles to Cuba. Ultimately after further Spanish settlement, with mixed results in attempts to enslave the native peoples, they were wiped out by the Spaniards. With Cuba being a Mestizo society, native blood runs deep within the Cuban people still today. In Baracoa there are people today with strong traces of Indian blood and resemblance.

    The documentary was very well done, I was so pleased with it, thanks for this wonderful project. I was disappointed with the neglect of the topic of the Cuban military campaigns throughout Africa to support the various liberation struggles that took place in the 70’s and 80’s. Yet I suppose that there was much history that was not covered due to the short run time of the program.

    Fact, at the peak of Cuba’s military involvement, there were 50,000 Cuban troops stationed in Africa. Given Cuba’s population at the time, in comparison the US, it would have been equivalent of the US having 1,000,000 troops abroad at one time. Really makes you think.

  • cynthia

    i dont think Gates gets the point across clearly enuf that actually racism is SO SO SO much less than we experience it here in the states. does it exist in cuba still, yes. but to such a lesser degree than here. also, ditto to the poster above who commented about cuba’s solidarity with not only african nations, but with the people of Harlem (USA), New Orleans (USA) and many other oppressed peoples! que viva cuba!

  • MarisolD

    Someone asked about the Native people of Cuba and why they weren’t mentioned in the documentary. A few years ago I wrote a paper about slavery in Cuba and Puerto Rico. From my research I found out that before there were African slaves brought to these nations the Native people were enslaved and forced to do hard labor. There were actually mass suicides committed by the Native people who tried to revolt but were not successful. They would rather die than live in slavery.

  • Will

    People,

    We need to see that we are losing the fact of who we are in the world.

    People of Europe (white) no matter where they live ,claim their heritage.

    We like to say no, yes and go into great debates.

    Non Whites around the world has issues with self but none more the peoples of Africa.

    Today we are mixed with European,African and Indian (or Native) people, that is across the world.

    The Europeans has went and enslave and change the life of the Native peoples they have lied and enslaved.

    We have been taught things that the Europeans has taken from us and thinking its their idea.

    We need to use this (what Dr. Gates has done) as a stepping stone to a larger platform to be proud and to remember our ancestors. Never forget your ancestors no matter where they come from.

    A one hour show is not going to show it all. School classes are longer and we still are learning more.

    Remember we (People of Color) were the WORLD before there was a Europe.

    After they give us so called INDEPENDENCE, yet they make us depend on them still today.

    All our leaders get killed for a reason, so we cannot know ourselves.

    So EDUCATE YOURSELVES, CAUSE WITHOUT KNOWING YOUR PAST, YOU GOT NO FUTURE.

  • Lesile

    Thank you Dr. Gates and PBS!

    The question of being black in Latin American culture is one that I have had for quite awhile…living in a blended neighborhood, I often wondered if we have more commonalities than differences. I was pleased to learn that we are more alike.

    So many people of latin origin look like me – but here in America, we magnify and catagorize everything. In our efforts to group all people of color into the “Black” bag, we often forget that some people do not limit their identity to skin color only. This series has made me examine my own identity. i have been taught that because of my skin color, I must identify myself as black – and I have not embraced my Native American and White Great Great Grandparents. Their love extended past prejudice to create a tight knit, loving family. Without them, I would not be here and I never thought about that before.

    So I challenge everyone to take a moment and examine yourself. You too will realize that you are a mixture of races and cultures. Is it fair to acknowledge only one? and Why do we concede to that idea?

    I am tired of checking the race box now…because I am more than what you see!

  • Ibis

    I have tried to ost before and have not had my commentary posted. I hope that it would not happen this time. I am a mulatta and Cuban. Dr Gates segment of Cuba , while historically accurate but lacked a true understanding about Cuba or Cubans. It was a very american, imperialist perspective First, who assigned African Americans as the barameters of Blackness? Second, the fact that we dont follow the one drop rule is not an implication of racial misidentification. Third, how do you go seek african ancestory, and only find it the darkest people, in a country that has a 35% mixed population? Latin America is a culturally and racial complex world,..scholarship requires a thorough understanding of what makes people who they are, not judgment of it . There is nothing wrong with us, as Dr Gates smulgy indicates. He says that we have a long way to go. We do? We who have black men as leaders of Cuban independence? That has black and mulatto representation in numbers unknown in the US? The Cuban scholars consistently discussed the role that people of color have played in our history and Dr Gates treats it like it was a national secret. I learned of it from childhood. That fact that we can put nationality ahead of race, is not something to be scorned or denegrated. As far as tourism is concerned, no cubans are allowed to fratenize with the tourist. All Cubans are living on meager wages.

    Is Cuba, and by extension, Latin America a nirvana? no not at all. But as a Cuban living in the United States I can tell you, that race relations in this country a far behind what they are in Latin America countries. Black is not one definition it is a broad spectrum of people from all over the world. Remove the white imposed one drop rule, and perhaps you will understand us better.

    I hope this will get posted. As I have noted that few negative comments about the series have been. Several people I know I tried to post comments and have not had them posted.

  • Mary

    Great discussion! Cuba is so complex and always elicits passionate opinions.
    I’ve visited Cuba four times and love the people, but also feel so sad and concerned each time I leave, hoping against hope that things will be better for them next time I get there. Couple of comments to add to earlier posts:
    Cubans are no longer denied access to the tourist hotels, but while they were, I was usually questioned every time I entered because they assumed I was Cuban. ( I am a white American with Spanish ancestry, olive skin, dark hair and eyes… )
    I have a good friend who was a tour guide in Cuba, who is white. He says he always felt uncomfortable in Santiago, which is primarily black, because the locals were hostile to him as a white guy on the streets. Racism can go both ways…
    Yes, I definitely got the sense that Prof. Gates was treading the party line with some of his commentary, which I’m sure he had to do to get permission to make the film. He may also have been fed only that kind of information in his research, if he did not get the chance to go behind closed doors with locals who were willing to take a chance on talking about the way things really are. Even if he did, he couldn’t put it on film. Here’s hoping for the day when Cubans can practice free speech and enjoy political freedom!

  • Albert

    Some commenters are missing the objective of this series. It seeks to examine the situation of African descended people in these countries through the prism of their historical treatment. It doesn’t seek to give an all-encompassing history, but purposely has a narrow focus. Since we in the US have not really seen this perspective, it is very interesting. Kudos to Dr. Gates. Not everything can be crammed into an hour presentation.

    As for Cuba in particular, I went there with my partner (who is white) back in ‘98. My experience in Havana was tainted somewhat by racial attitudes. While staying at the Hotel Colina, on several occasions when we returned to the hotel after a day out and heading to the hotel elevator, I would get challenged by a security guard running up to me to ask if I was guest. My partner, who was usually with me, was never challenged. One day I got so fed up that I asked the guard why I was always being challenged. He told me, “you look Cuban.” Of course, being darker skinned and proceeding to the hotel room with a white tourist brought the presumption that I was either hustling my body or contraband goods. I complained to the hotel manager, telling him that this unnecessary embarassment could be avoided by having all guests present the hotel cards upon entry. His reaction was a shrug. In Havana, we saw a lot of black folks having to hustle, since they likely didn’t ready access to remunerations from family abroad. It was sad seeing young black girls linking up with all too eager Europeans (especially Italian men!), who were indulging in what they couldn’t get at home. I found the atmosphere in Santiago to be much nicer in comparison. I wasn’t made as conscious of my color there, though others may have encountered something different. That being said, I do want to go back to further explore my paternal Afro-Cuban roots.

  • Kendra HL

    This show is called BLACK IN LATIN AMERICA…so that is why the aboriginal people were not discussed in the program. Is it better to be considered Native American (Indian/Aboriginal) than it is to be considered Black? It seems as though people will say and do anything to denounce or defer from the fact that they are of African dissent. MarisolD: Your post has undertones that suggest that the Native peoples were “better than” the Africans as they chose to commit suicide than to live as slaves.

    Its sad. I know people here in the US who absolutely will not call themselves African-American. Instead they use the term Black as they want no ties to their African heritage. Its disgusting. WAKE UP PEOPLE!! If you come from an island or country that once had African slaves 200-500 years ago and you are a cafe-au-lait color or darker….you are BLACK! As my father used to say to me…”If at any time you are confused about what race you are, ask a white man.”

    Kendra
    a proud African-American, Puerto-Rican, and Dominican woman!!

  • Lourdes

    I would love to see a documentary on the people of Polynesia. Were there African slaves there too? We know the white men invaded them and ripped them of some of their culture, but are they still considered colonies? Some of the islands are still called Kingdoms. Do they have monarchies? What are their African legacies (if any)?

  • Andy Cardenas

    I am one of the children of upper middle class Cubans who came to the US in 1960 at the age of 12. I did not want to leave, but at that age I was not offered any options.

    Often, I wonder what it would be like today if everyone would have toughed it out and stayed there to help shape real independence in Cuba.

    Today I am Cuban, I am American–a piece of my heart and parts of my soul are somewhere in Cuba where I plan to visit soon. Then, I can come to my own conclusions on what reality for Cubans actually is.

    I deeply appreciate Mr. Gates’ concern and unbiased observations–he shows both sides of the coin.

    My relatives and friends who came over at the onset of the Cuban Revolution are convinced they are patriots and 100% white–I beg to differ.

    Had we been true patriots we would have stayed there for better or for worse. As far as that 100% white–ha!–we are probably 100% good looking geniuses also–doubt it seriously.

    Most of those who left right away were and are racists, Dr. Gates is absolutely correct. I observed it as a child in Cuba (found it odd) and continue to see it here in the states. Talk about indoctrination, you are constantly reminded as a child that they are black and you are not–although you are not blind.

    Due to my rebellious nature or because of some African genes in my body, I always went out of my way to play with children of color in the neighborhood, to eat where the drivers and workers at the beach club had lunch–these folks seemed real and honest to me as opposed to the fake society types that comprised some of my family–they were more fun to be around and accepted me as an individual, the food was much better than the “club sandwiches” which was the lunch choice of the club member crowd.

    I come from a mixed bag and differing family ideologies–my mother’s family (my grandfather was part of Cuba’s first cabinet until he got sick of the goings-on and resigned his post) were very pro Revolution and stayed there working until their death. Part of the same family on my maternal grandmother’s side were well connected politicians who went for the money and brought it with them–turning into “professional Cubans” in Miami. And, at the same time–most of my family who were apolitical and came to this country to work– in their minds to keep their children away from “Communism.”

    In closing–apologies for boring you with me, myself and I–I have learned much from the other comments and from Dr. Gates’ video who started all of the discussion–thank you and Dr. Gates.

    In Cuba it is said “No hay mal que por bien no venga”–roughly translated: “There is no malady that does not come for the good.”

  • Richard Mojena

    The documentary was fine regarding the history of slavery and racism under Spanish rule. Yes, it was a slave economy, as in the American south, and there was institutional racism… nothing new there. When it finally starts getting to the modern era, I start taking issue with the American media’s view of American colonialism, racism, and the “benefits” of the Castro revolution. First off, Gate’s view of racism is distinctly that of an African-American, as you would expect. The racism in Cuba was far less hostile than that in the US… there was more of an easygoing and friendly social relationship than in this country… with no Jim Crow laws regarding separate facilities such as schools, restaurants, public transport, and beaches. And sports and entertainment venues were integrated well before Castro and the US. Also, Gates in particular and Americans in general have a polar view of black vs white, rarely acknowledging the continuum of racial genetics in between. In the US, if you’re biracial, you’re black. Period. In Cuba, there was and is keen awareness of skin color and an acceptance of “blackness” over a spectrum. Interestingly, many biracial Cubans (“mulatos” in Spanish) consider themselves more white than black, likely depending on the color of their skin and facial features. And correspondingly, the social and economic opportunities available to them were much more fluid than in this country. Batista himself was a person of color. I don’t just read about this perspective… As a Cuban American born in the US I’ve experienced it with family and friends of family in Hartford, Cuba, and Miami. I’ve seen a friendly social dynamic among Cubans of color that is far less common in this country today. The documentary mentions that 97% of Cubans in this country consider themselves white… it then makes the distorted conclusion that the money sent by them to Cuba significantly increases the disparity between blacks and whites in Cuba. In reality, I suspect many more people of color in Cuba are receiving aid from their American-based families than intimated by this film.

    It also angers me to continually see the one-sided perspective of our media regarding pre- and post-Castro Cuba. The documentary shows Batista’s police beating demonstrators, thereby reinforcing the brutality of this dictatorship. Yes, there was brutality, as in any dictatorship that attempts to quell dissent. Nothing new here. But how about what replaced it? The Castro regime executed and imprisoned far more dissidents than Batista. And implemented a police state that rules by control and fear, thrashing human rights. Why isn’t this mentioned as well? The documentary shows the replacement of Spanish colonialism with American colonialism (doesn’t mention Soviet colonialism). Yes, true, there was American exploitation of the country’s resources and labor, with attendant superiority attitudes by American personnel. But how about balancing this with the benefits brought by the US, even in concert with the corrupt politicians and mob: massive infrastructure improvements in roads, railroads, buildings, communications, water and sewage hygiene, the medical system, and economic system. The emergence of a huge middle class of professionals such as doctors, attorneys, engineers, accountants and an extensive merchant and managerial class that created an economic, educational, and medical system that put it ahead not only of many other Latin American countries but also of some industrialized countries at the time (1950s). It’s a testament to the pre-Castro system and Cubans themselves that so much was accomplished, even after accounting for the massive amounts of money stolen by the politicians and mob. People of color benefited from this systems… indeed, were active participants in this system. You might want to check out the recent, poignant, incisive, and celebrated book “Take Me With You” by the Cuban-American-born Carlos Frias. His family members, some of which had “color,” were very successful business men in Marianao, who by the way were known by my aunt in Harford. The book describes the author’s visit with the remnants of family during a twelve-day trip to Cuba in 2006. Will lend it to you if you like.

    Another point I take issue with: Citation by the media of Castro’s educational achievements. The documentary accurately describes that Castro increased literacy by sending educators into the mountains and other rural areas. And it does give a literacy figure of 75% pre-Castro, although Wikipedia cites a documented 80%. Regardless, for the times, Cuba had a high literacy rate and first-rate education system that did extend into many rural areas. My father went to school in western Cuba (Pinar del Rio) in the 1920s and he lived in a very remote area (no roads or electricity). I experienced three years of both public and private education in Marianao and Havana in the 1950s… and came back to this country well ahead of my peers. The “vaunted” Castro achievement of 98% literacy was at the expense of schools losing independence, becoming a state tool to control and propagandize the children, as in all totalitarian states (Soviet Union, China, Germany under Hitler). A key objective of schools and the attendant “summer camps” was to shift loyalty of children from parents and family to the state. And to control the flow of educational information. My point? Castro’s education push was not as altruistic as many would have you believe. And you can’t make a comparison today to a frozen 1950s scenario. Another system would also have made progress over the next 50 years. And don’t get me started on the medical system!

    By the end of the video, we finally gingerly look at dissent… in this case a Cuban hip-hop artist rapping about racism. Prior to that, the interviewees were sympathetic to the government… why not include interviews with some dissidents as well, many of whom are people of color… not allowed by the Cuban sensors? or by the documentary’s bias?

    The American left in general and media in particular love to romanticize the Cuban revolution and praise its “benefits.” And to forgive, excuse, and otherwise overlook or minimize its shortcomings. In reality, it replaced a semi-repressive state with a still more repressive state, and tragically destroyed a vibrant society, along with its people, the separation of families in the diaspora, and the destruction of its economy and its building/infrastructure stock. And let’s not superficially blame it on the American embargo. Other countries trade with Cuba. Blame goes to a political/economic system that discourages initiative, where most enterprises are controlled by the military, and that rewards members of the government (Communist) elite. It’s a broken and corrupt command economy. It really distresses me to think what Cuba could have been today if Castro had followed through with his promise of a democracy and adherence to a then existing Cuban democratic Constitution. A promise that also would have benefited the subject of this documentary. He had such a solid base to begin with. Such hope when he came to power. Very sad for me what followed. A lost fifty-year opportunity with devastating consequences.

  • Jonas

    I am very happy Dr. Gates brought this important issue to our attention, which makes him the best educator in my opinion. Racism is a cancer it eats on victims as well as perpetrators. After having lived together for centuries still grappling with it makes me very sad. After tremendous effort and constant expose a of the practice, the American society is loosening on their grips on racism, not that it should be commended for, but seeing less of it makes all of happier.

    Although, electing a black president did not change much for many blacks, but given the economic problem the nation is grappling with, nevertheless the election has created a phenomenon that never existed before, a phenomenon of possibility. The current economic condition of the United States may have hampered the fight against racism, but having the issue discussed in every opportunity we can find shines light on the issue.

    I suppose Cuba’s socialist revolution did not make racism history after all. I have always believed racism in Cuba would be less than in other places, given the verbal commitment of the Castro government. However, reality on the ground is different. I think, the government of Cuba should not discourage writers, singers and artists from discussing the issue openly. Only acknowledging of a given problem can solution be found for.

  • Diego

    A couple of things, for some of the people trying to politicize the subject, and taint it with cold ware era perspectives, we are past that. It seems you would not be happy unless Mr. Gates had been foaming at the mouth shouting anti-Castro slogans – the show is about race not ideologies. Racism is rampant in all parts of Latin America, if you want evidence of this take a look at any spanish-speaking soap opera in univision or telemundo.
    There is racism even in nations like Haiti – investigate the elite Haitian class on google and you will see all of them are light skin, and married to other light skin Haitians or just non-Haitians.
    As to Cuban racism, I too have encountered it in Hudson County, NJ, a couple (with some local clout) who I have overheard just say nasty things about black folks, and in 2008 say nasty things about then candidate Obama simply because he was black, and the weird thing is the lady’s husband was obviously part black himself.
    Racism in Latin America is ultimately more than a political problem, it is a social and cultural problem. It is not until they decolonize their minds and their institutions that the problem will begin to be seriously addressed.

  • Erasmo Pinero

    This is my second request for my comments to be posted on your website. Please, if it will not be posted, explain the reasons why. Thank you very much.

    With an immense feeling of disappointment and frustration I watched your documentary on PBS outlining the history of Blacks in Cuba, and the island’s race relations in the last 150 years. There is no doubt this is a painful, always controversial, and difficult topic to tackle; and I commend you for doing so. However, as with most PBS programming dealing with the “Cuban issue”, your documentary falls short of expectations.
    I am sure that you approached this topic with good intentions, trying to find the “truth”, and most, if not all of the historical accounts are true and well documented. It is the balance that is tilted, and I do not see how PBS can ever correct it. I will do my best to show here why the US media, and in particular PBS, is so myopic when it comes to current events in Cuba, its history and its Diaspora (the so called “Cuban exile community”). I will use your documentary as an example:
    Topic No. 1: General Antonio Maceo. Despite his detractors, the fact is that General Antonio Maceo has been regarded a colorless hero by all Cubans for more than 100 years. We never cared about his color. Our love for Maceo was not due to Castro’s propaganda, but our admiration came from a deeply rooted appreciation of his sacrifice during the war or Independence. If Maceo could be resurrected today, he would pick up his pistol and machete, and begin another rebellion. This time against Castro and his thugs.
    Topic No. 2: Batista and the American Mafia. Please, how many times do we have to hear the story about how the Mafia ruled Havana and bribed everybody? What about our politicians today? Most Cubans were far removed from these dubious circles, and elected to live their lives as they always had: By bold entrepreneurship and strong work ethics. That is why Cuba was, at the time of Castro’s arrival in Havana, one of the most prosperous and up and coming Latin American countries. Its ascendancy was similar to what we see in China today, but on a smaller scale. Just look at the Yellow Pages directory published in Havana in 1959 to get an idea on how vibrant Cuba’s economy was. It seems that for PBS and NPR the most preferred clichés are: McCarthyism, The Military-Industrial Complex, Imperialism, Colonialism, Global Warming, and Batista and the Mafia.
    Topic No. 3: The Revolution and Black Dissidents. Why didn’t you try to explain at length the backwardness and misery the last 50 years of communism has brought to Cuba, and especially to Blacks? Indeed, as you and “Commander” Victor Dreke point out, the Revolution was supported by most Cubans early on; but the Castros had other plans. You could have spent half of your one hour documentary on this topic alone; which is the most important chapter of the history of Blacks in Cuba. Except for the underground Black rapper you interviewed; you completely ignored the Black dissidents in Castro’s city ghettos, and yes, Gulags. Where were they? Is their opinion irrelevant? Did you know that one of the most admired Cubans today (by Blacks and Whites alike) is a jailed Black dissident and doctor named Oscar Elias Biscet? Not even a blip of his name was uttered. What about the courageous and internationally recognized Human Rights Group “Ladies in White”; which have very prominent and respected Black women in their ranks? Apparently, the University of Havana “intellectuals”, die-hard communists (such as Commander Dreke; whom you interviewed at length), and resigned apologists are your preferred sources.
    Topic No. 4: The Cuban Missile Crisis’ True Message. You did an excellent job in expressing the real danger and fear kids on both sides of the Gulf of Mexico felt during those dreadful days in October of 1962; however, you fail to stress the fact that one man (Castro) was coldly capable of holding this planet hostage to an impending Nuclear Holocaust. All this was the result of Castro’s ego, his vanity, and his desire to have an “historic” impact on the world. Well, he almost did. Thankfully, his Russian masters and American determination curtailed his maniacal instincts. Years from now, when a truly balanced and comprehensive history of the 20th Century is written, the Cuban Missile Crisis chapter will be its most appalling chapter. And Castro was the cause and its instrument.
    Topic No. 5: Campaign against Illiteracy. I could not help my revulsion to see you glorifying a campaign whose real purpose was not to educate the peasants, but to brain wash a new generation of Castro worshipers; which ultimately did nothing to improve their lives. How can you build an educated society on top of a mountain of lies, deceit, and corruption at all levels? Never mind the pressures and intimidation endured by many responsible parents mindful of their young children’s exposure to sexual promiscuity and unnecessary isolation. Education? for what? As you well documented, a doctor in Cuba earns in a day less than a teenager in an American supermarket for three hour of manual labor. In a place with no future, education tainted with communist propaganda is worthless.
    Topic No. 6: “Free” Healthcare. The favorite topic of the uninformed left. The free healthcare in Cuba is a myth and everybody knows it. Have you visited the clinics for the common people (not those for tourists with dollars or Euros)? What about Cuban pharmacies? Where are the healthcare related professional societies? When you have to bring to the hospital your own bed sheets and medicine, that is no free medicine; it is a nightmare.
    Topic No. 7: Prostitution. Where in your documentary was the most important social issue of Cuba today? Prostitution is mostly a “Black” problem. In fact, Europeans come to Cuba to seek the Black sex trade that they lack in “White” Europe, and which has supplanted the slave trade in Cuba. The Castro regime of course, out of convenience, and in the hope of attracting sorely needed dollars, turns a blind eye to this destructive trade. The regime’s thugs could end this trade very quickly via their repressive means. Why do the Castros allow it? The answer is simple: these “futureless” young women are an essential part of their bizarre local economy.
    Topic No. 8: Blacks in the current Cuban Government. You dwelled on the fact that Black Cubans were disenfranchised after the war of independence; but what about today? Have you seen how Castro has kept Blacks away from his circle of trusted thugs? Over the last 51 years Blacks have been nothing more than chessboard pieces in the international communist propaganda machine, with the sole purpose of extolling the virtues of their liberator and White master, Fidel Castro (who is very much White and European, a Celtic Galician extract to be exact). For Goodness sake, even the “imperialist” US has a Black President.
    And finally Topic No. 9: A coat of paint. Did you notice that every building you depict in your documentary is in dire need of paint or repairs? It has been 51 years and Cuba has not seen a single coat of paint. I believe PBS also needs a fresh coat of paint, not green or red; but red, white and blue.
    It is with clarity that I see why the conservatives in this country regard PBS as a left leaning, or at a minimum, a mouthpiece for the left. The leftist ideology has caused millions of people to suffer and be robbed of all the humanity that the “intellectuals” profess to defend. In Cuba, prior to 1959, the Blacks had a future. Over the last 51 years, they had none.
    Come down to Miami and interview the thousands of “Blacks” that have gone into exile; something that Cuban Blacks never did even under the discriminatory conditions in which they lived prior to Castro. That should be sufficient for you and your camera crew to pack your gear and come to the real Cuba, the one that cherishes the words “negro” with loving nostalgia and respect. The past, even though imperfect, was much better than the present conditions offered by Socialism. The future and hopes of the Cuban Blacks were destroyed for three generations by the most brutal dictatorship the Western hemisphere has ever seen.
    I left Cuba in 1974, and I have been living in the US since 1977 (after three years waiting in Spain for a US Visa). Of all the last 34 years, I have yet to see a PBS documentary that gets it right. I am not asking for perfection, because that does not exist; but we are crying for justice. We expect our educated democracy to be a source of documentaries that lay the facts bare for the world to see. We do not have to fear the Secret Police, but apparently we fear ourselves.
    On your end piece, you assert that another revolution will be needed to truly emancipate the Cuban Blacks. No Sir, what is needed is not another revolution, but a total elimination of the communist and oppressive machine that has kept all Cubans, Blacks and Whites, under the Stalinist boot, and from reaching their full potential.
    Confronting the Cuban reality is hard for PBS and the Media. Why? Because in doing so their Utopia of a socialist state will come crashing down and all their progressive fantasies with it. Not until the true history of a post Revolutionary Cuba is told, will you emerge from the biggest lie the last 100 years of human history have seen. I hope that one day you will take this journey of true discovery; but please, do not ask me to accompany you. Leave me behind; I have already seen the light.
    Sincerely,

    Erasmo Piñero, Jr.
    Fort Worth, Texas

  • Rob

    The concept is tremendously interesting the treatment by Gates leaves a lot to be desired…the funding should have gone to someone who could’ve done a better job with it and maybe a little bit of personality…Gates is so blahhh.

  • M. Steven

    Being of Cuban decent, this particular installment had me glued to the television. I’m not at all surprised by the racism and am glad that viewers learned the truth about Castro’s takeover. So sorry the series is over…Professor Gates, I want more!!!

  • E. Alvarez

    After watching this particular film and of the series, I realize that the interpretation of Cuba by Mr. Gates is very shallow and completely based on an American perspective. Reading the comments here is obvious that most viewers are rather confused.
    To understand the concept of racial identity of this island you first have to understand your point of reference.

  • Johanna Falber

    For those of you that think that the “elitest, white Cubans” came to FL with wealth, you have no idea. My father was a succesful attorney in Cuba and came here to clean floors and fight against Castro any chance he could. Odd to me that some consider themselves by their race first and then their country. To me, I am Americana first, and then I am Cuban/Mexican/Latina.

  • Ivan

    To everyone on this website. Obviously there are many different and passionate opinions about PBS’ and Dr Gates’ historical depictions on what happened to Africans in Latin America but the one thing I think people are failing to realize is that he is trying to condense over 500 years of events in to a few (EDITED) hours of programming!

    We can all sit here and say “Why didn’t he talk about this… why didn’t he talk about that…” We can all have our agreements and disagreements but I think that fact is secondary to the point that just a few years ago we couldn’t even HAVE this discussion!!

    In my opinion, the point of this program is to engage in discussion and educate the audience. But one thing you have to remember is that I don’t think there’s EVER been one article written in history that everyone “agreed” with except the article that said “2 + 2 = 4 and water is wet”

    Me personally, I’m not looking to “agree or disagree” with what Dr. Drake is saying because I can form my own opinion. But what I AM looking to do is be enlightened and stimulated by a passionate discussion that reaffirms why i’m very proud to be Black

  • Elena

    I would have liked to have seen more on the Partido Independiente de Color! Their story is often overlooked here in the U.S. as well as in Cuba.

  • A. Gordon

    Thank you Dr Gates, once again i am truly amazed at the depth in which Africa helped shaped the world, as a child i oftened wondered what happen to my history ( African History) and where we just always slaves ( yeah a childish thought i know), and i oftened wondered why we were not taught all contributors of the west, now i have my answer. It would seem that not only my country ( USA),but allot of other countries also had trouble with recognizing just what Africans contributed to make their countries prosperious. Now i hope you will do a series discussing what contact if any did Europe have with Sub-Sharan Africa prior to the discovery of the Americas. I know about the Moores in Southern Spain , i would like to know about Africans who traveled with the Romans duringh their conquests. Once again thank you for the lesson.

  • Sosa Domingo

    As a man of Cuban decent and considered black and native american in the US. No one is saying there was no other ethnic groups in Cuba, yet this afterall a Series of Black in Latin America. Lets keep this in perspective. Great work Mr. Gates

  • M. Wiggan

    I agree that this was a somewhat unbalanced report. I wonder if this is due to any restrictions imposed by the Cuban government on who Dr. Gates was permitted to interview?

  • Rita Garcia

    The episode was good, but not great. I was deeply shocked when Dr. Gates refered to the Unites States as America. I would think a Dr. of history would know not to refer to the United States as America. Next time it would be nice if he tries to pronounce simple names such as Mario correctly, after all it would be seen as a sign of respect to Spanish speaking peope.

  • D. Frierson

    This is as good of a documentary as you will get about Cuba while filming in Cuba. I’m a Black American who has been to Cuba several times over the last five years. No one in Cuba is going to give you the “true story” on video while living in Cuba. There is no free speech. You must remember the worst thing a Cuban can do is to speak out against the government or it’s policies. The fact that Dr. Gates was able to get anyone to talk on camera in Cuba about race relations is amazing to me. Cubans are exteremly patriotic. I don’t know if this is because of their fear or love of Cuba. While in Cuba I was routinely mistaken for being Cuban by locals. I’m often mistaken for Latino in the US and my family is have Puerto Rican. So, this gave me a very unique perspective into the treatment of Blacks in Cuba. I was harrassed in hotels by staff, ignored in resturants by waiters and questioned on the streets by the Cuban police. I was told to leave the hotel or to stop talking to the tourist. I was twice stopped in the Airport by Cuban authorities and questioned when trying to leave the country. Once they realized I was not Cuban but a Black American citizen things changed immediately. Often followed by an apology. In Cuba racism is more open. But, money is stronger than skin color. The big difference is I don’t think most Cubans even realize how descriminated against they really are. It’s almost as if they are institutionalized by the system. It has always been this way so people just accept it. All poor Cubans; Blacks, Mulattos, and Whites are treated as second class citizens in their own country. Tourist are treated like gold. Almost all of the tourist I saw in Cuba were white. I did not see one Black person on any of my trips staying in the hotels or dining in the tourist resturants. I’m sure there are some but I did not see any that I can remember. Being Black believe me I was looking. So this breeds an association of wealth and power with being white. If the only people you have ever seen with money and power are white, one would start to believe that only whites have money and power. So if you are Black you must have nothing. Remember everything is controlled by the government, so there are no TV shows, newspapers, magazines, or literature to promote positive Black identity. The wierd thing is most Cubans are Black or Mulatto. They far out number the whites on the Island. All that being said, Cuba is a very beautiful country. The people are beautiful, the culture is intoxicating, and the love for ones brother can be felt deep in your heart. Yes, Cuba shares the same racial problems as all countries. It’s sad to see such a beautiful country have the life chocked out of it. It’s even more sad to see my Black brothers and sisters of Cuba living in extreme poverty knowing the end will not come in most of their lifetimes. Until Black Cubans can figure out a way to level the economic gap between them and whites, they will always be treated as third class. Tourist, Whites, then Blacks.

  • Evelyn

    I liked his documentaries but I do feel they are biased. He is seeing things through only one length. The indigenous people have suffered just as much and no matter what color your skin is in Latin America, if you’re poor, it’s not going to be a good life.

    Ultimately, the Spaniards came to plunder and destroy and brain wash everyone with their elitist ideologies.

  • anselmo cuesta

    Professor Gates:
    I am a Cuban musician and I live in Barcelona, ​​Spain for 8 ños.He seen his documentary “Cuba: the next revolution” and I liked a lot, also shares the idea that this country has to be a social change as there is much hidden racism which does not allow black men to reach the upper echelons of society, decide their own future, enjoy and share their sovereignty, have their own criteria and vo the respect, I think the problem is the profound influence that left the Spanish coloialismo in the formation of the Cuban nationality, on the other hand I am a member of the Cuban and jazz club that you want publicized in the USA the existence of this association in Havana, you can enter these links http://www.facebook.com / peñadejazz or http://www.facebook.com / santaamaliajazzdance, you can see photos of prominent jazz musicians who have visited the association.
    Cuesta Anselmo greetings

  • cubanlinx.com

    no matter what color you are on the outside soon as you reveal your cuban or part cuban we still get no respect we are still human bottam line

  • Ms Hollins

    I enjoyed this documentary thoroughly. In reading the comments of those less satisfied, it seems that many are confused are dissatisfied because of personal biases. One asked “why is this episode about black or white?” This documentary is not about the aboriginal Cubans as it sets out to explains the “face” of Cubans today. For instance, someone wanting to know how and why Americans come in so many different flesh tones wouldn’t necessarily talk about Native Americans, but rather slavery and migration. If you watch a series called BLACK in Latin America, then expect it to talk a lot about black people. There would be more mention of aboriginal Cubans if this series was called Aboriginal people in Latin America. Also, complaining about the content or lack of is frivolous as there are only 60 minutes to fit in so much information. With this said, I’m just happy this series even exist because this perspective is not readily available information anywhere else on TV or even in textbooks.

  • Mike Davis

    I’ll be calling a whole lot more people brother now, whether they like it or not

  • José

    Prof. Gates neglected to point out that dictator Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar was in fact the first and only black president Cuba has ever had, for in fact he was of mixed European, African, Chinese and Amerindian descent. In pre-Castro Cuba, Batista was considered a mulatto socially. It has often been said that a significant part of the so-called “white” middle- and upper-class support for Fidel Castro while he was still up in the Sierra Maestra mountains was motivated by the issue of race: dictator Batista was a mulatto. But not only was he a mulatto, he came from very humble origins in the city of Bayamo. Coming from a humble background, Batista earned a living as a laborer in the sugar cane fields, docks and railroads. He was a tailor, mechanic, charcoal vendor, fruit peddler, and an Army stenographer. In 1921, he traveled to Havana and joined the army. After promotion to Sergeant, he became the union leader of Cuba’s soldiers. In 1933 he led the military insurrection against dictator Machado. Prior to becoming a dictator in 1952, he was elected democratically to the presidency in 1944 and served one term with the support of the masses, particularly the rural and urban working class and the cuban socialist party, which he not only legalized but allowed to participate in his government.

  • Alex

    Here is the bottom line for all of you trying to dispute this great documentary: It is not what the professor forgot to point out, but what he is tring to convey to the masses out there about blacks and slavery. One person said all people are Cuban, I am Cuban and my own people just see black…sorry Chepe Barrajo, but you are most wrong on this one. I live in San Antonio. TX and when ever my wife says here husband is Cubano, her freinds say no problem, then when they see me it is definately a problem. They don’t want to talk to me or anything. Sometimes I wonder if peolpe even get what is going on around them when they act as though there is no racism around them. When my wife watches her novelas, I never see a dark skin person in the show unless they are portrayed in a bad light……so just stop and wake up and get a clue!!

  • JC

    Alex, I completely agree with everything that you’ve stated. I have a friend from the Domincan Republic and they had a wake-up when they realized for that people saw them as black and not latina. I myself am learning to pick my battles, however, when the ignorance is too blatant and cannot be ignore I educate.

    As for Mrs. C. who responded way back in April the program was entitled, Black in Latin America. ;-)

  • ricardo

    If found it to be a good expose. I wept along with the professor who talked about going out in the country when she was young to teach people how to read. I also feel strongly that about how this expose reminded us of the weakness of humanity, be it racism, self preservation or any other action that keeps us from bettering our selves.

  • cody

    as a deaf person who has considered pbs a reliably accessible network, i am disappointed to see that these videos have no captions. even a transcript would have been helpful, but as it is i could not watch any of them.

  • Torie

    I just wanted to write how much I have loved watching this series. I am black British ( West African origin) and I have never really been interested in Latin America but this series has opened my eyes and I am truly fascinated and in awe of the black experience in Latin America. I loved the episode about Mexico and Peru and want to visit these places. Thank you Dr. Gates for this series. It’s truly magical. I think your next project could be the black experience in Europe.

  • PJ

    I was surprised –like the above viewer–to find no closed captions or transcript for this series. Shame on you PBS!!

  • Robyn

    The series is called BLACK IN LATIN AMERICA. The omittance of native people is not a form of disrespect or lack of acknowledgement of their existance. Native people are simply NOT the focus of the series. I am not sure why folks keep mentioning. Please refer to the title of the series.

  • Ana Maria

    I was very impressed with the historical content of this episode and glad to finally see something on blacks in latin american countries. I am an afro cuban american and has never visited cuba but would love to go some day because I still have family there. I was especially glad that there was exposure to a large culture of black cubans in cuba. For the simple fact there are many latinos here in america who are so ignorant when it comes to telling them i’m cuban and they question me as if black latinos don’t exist…not saying all latinos because a lot of my friends are but there’s a vast percent who are very ignorant. It appalls me every time. I will continue to watch many more episodes….and spread the word…cheers

  • J. Rhadames Cabrera

    Es triste saber que el Profesor gates no va a leer estos cometarios: Alguas cosas que él esconoce:

    La MAMÁ DEL GENERAL ANTONIO MACEO ES DOMINICANA.

    EL SON FUE LLEVADO A CUBA POR DOS HERMANAS CIBAEÑAS O SEA DE LA REGIÓN DEL CIBAO REPÚBLICA DOMINICANA.

    LOS DOS GRANDES HÉROES MULATOS “CUBANOS” ERAN DOMINICANOS (YA SEA POR ANCESTROS O NACIMIENTO)
    ANTONIO MACEO Y MÁXIMO GÓMEZ ( QUE LE LES UNIERON UNA DOCENA DE BRILLANTES SOLDADOS DOMINICANOS QUE MÁS TARDE FUERON OFICIALES DEL EJERCITO MAMBÍ)

    CÓMO LA DICHOSA REVOLUCIÓN REALIZADA POR FIDEL CASTRO ESCASEAN LOS NEGROS O MULATOS.

    EL COMANDANTE DEL BARCO GRANMA FUÉ UN MULATO Y CASUALIADAD DE LA VIDA DOMINICANO

    COMANDANTE DE LA REVOLUCIÓN PICHIRILO.

    EXISTEN MUY POCOS NEGROS / MULATOS EN LAS ALTAS EFERAS DEL GOBIERNO CUBANO EN SUS INICIOS Y EN SUS TIEMPOS ACTUALES. LA DICHOSA NOMENCLATURA.

    EL TRABAJO DEL PROFESOR GATES ES PARCIALIZADO Y LE FALTA MUCHO MÁS.

  • Rondel Benjamn

    Their is a tremendous opportunity to understand the Afro american experience during the 18th century by studying the Story of the Merikins in trinidad & Tobago …..

  • MARCELA RISSO

    También me gustaría ver algo sobre los afro-uruguayos, que también sufren discriminación económica desde siempre en Uruguay. Por lo menos se le reconoce la música, pero eso es estereotipar…tenemos que saber más para aprender a respetar y apreciar la herencia cultural de todos los grupos de la población. Tenemos un senador, está muy bien, pero no es suficiente con esto. La discriminación e indiferencia han producido que las personas identificadas como afro-uruguayas solo trabajen en el sector doméstico o en trabajos poco remunerado producto de que no tienen medios para educarse. Esto es aun más triste sabiendo que Uruguay tiene educación terciaria gratuita. La inclusión empieza por la educación y eso todavía es un privilegio para la gran mayoría. Me interesa mucho la literatura creada por estos admirables hombres y mujeres que conforman una pequeña parte de la población. No hay mucha, pero sería bueno hacer una antología del continente que incluyera a aquellos de quien nadie se acuerda por estar en un país que, a pesar de ser multicultural, no es tan tolerante como debiera serlo.

  • Fernando

    The documentary is very interesting. However, I think it should mentioned the status of free Blacks and Mulattoes in Spanish Cuba. For instance, in Santiago de Cuba there were Black aldermen and Militia Officers. However, the documentary suggests that the Blacks had no rights back then. History tells us another story.

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