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Full Episode: Mexico & Peru: The Black Grandma in the Closet

In Mexico and Peru Professor Gates explores the almost unknown history of the significant numbers of black people—the two countries together received far more slaves than did the United States —brought to these countries as early as the 16th and 17th centuries, and the worlds of culture that their descendants have created in Vera Cruz on the Gulf of Mexico, the Costa Chica region on the Pacific, and in and around Lima, Peru. Watch full episode.

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  • gn

    Hello I teach in the inner city in Chicago. My school is predominantly hispanic and black. I’m a proud Mexican myself. At times racial tensions get strong and even violent. Today I will begin showing this series in my classroom to show to my students how connected we are. Thanks Henry Louise-Gates.

    Comment on editing: The Mexico/Peru chapter says that when we think of Mexico we think of 5.000 varieties of potatoes (I think you meant Peru on that one).

    Also: Tenochtitlan, and Vicente Guerrero can be easily pronounced if a native speaker shows you how to pronounce them. I think pronouncing such things as close to their native prononciiation as possible makes things so much more rich.

  • Crystal

    GATES! Wonderful Wonderful Series, you never fail me! I saw a lot of hidden Islamic heritage as well in this documentary! Bless you and your work, can’t wait to see what you do next!

  • ahmenes

    Prof Gates,

    Thank you for opening one of many chapters of the relationship between black & mexican/orginal people of that country. I have watch all for episodes and its like finding family that we never knew of.

    May I suggest two books for anyone who may read this post. Black Indians William Loren Katz & They Came Before Columbus Dr Ivan Van Sertima. I want thank the orginal people of Latin America & America. Without them black people would have never survived. Keep you head up as will will reunite soon. God Bless.

  • Cynthia Greenawalt

    I live in central Mexico and enjoyed this program very much.

    I have a comment, however:
    Indigenous Mexicans are subjected to the same prejudices that face the black communities here. All one needs to do to confirm the racism that prevails here is to turn on one of the major Mexican tv stations. It is remarkable that in a country where a huge majority of the population is brown, one only sees European types on the tv!

  • Robert E. Houston

    This was an excellent presentation and an unknown fact about Mexico and Peru. Could you forward a transcript and I would like to purchase the DVD. Continue to provide the excellent programing on Blacks in the Latin American Culture. Thank you.

  • hfg

    the scene with the cotton pickers was chilling, shocking, redeeming, and enlightening all at the same time. It felt like looking back in time. It was very important for me to see this

  • Krista Rudd

    I don’t think its fair to describe this series as one where race is being explored in Latin America; the influence of Black history, race and culture perhaps, but again, as usual the indigenous peoples of this hemisphere are being ignored. Until we explore, discover and acknowledge our views, biases and interactions of the First Nations peoples we won’t get it right. Too bad the focus is so narrow. Another opportunity missed…

  • Claire

    Where can I get information on how to help or make donations to help remove La Negra Mama from the airwaves?

  • Alicia

    I hope this series repeats. Professor Gates, I think I speak for millions of people when I say thanks so much. as a black american of caribbean descent I have found this series to be very informative. I feel blacks in latin nations are in desperate need of a black pride movement.

  • Dona

    Great job Professor Gates!

  • Sharon

    Yes, there are black people on the coast of Vera Cruz. Also, there are German Mennonites in Northern Chihuahua, and Chinese in Mexico City. There are Mexicans of Spanish, French, Irish, Italian, Lebonese, Jewish, descent etc.

    But, the vast majority of the poplulation of Mexico are of indigenous descent. How do you account for the 62 indigenous dialects spoken all over Mexico? Many Mexicans still speak Nahuatl, Mixteca, or Zapotec languages, Amerindian languages.

    Furthermore, look at their features! Long, silky straight hair, almond-shaped eyes, high-cheek bones, aquiline noses, and lack of body hair. (In fact, when the natives saw the hairy Spaniards for the first time, they freaked out! They had never seen people with hair on their face and body!)

  • brie

    this series was so interesting. I’m sorry I only caught the last 2

  • potomac

    Thank you Professor Gates for this most informative documentary. I’ve watched every series and each episode has been extremely well done and enlightening. Some of this history I’d read about years ago but had forgotten or never realized the context of the African contribution to the history and culture of the countries highlighted. Thats the most salient part of the histories told-how intrinsic the presence of Africans were to the liberation struggles and independence of much if not most of Latin America. We, African Americans need to know more about the Blacks of Latin America-we compliment and validate each other.

  • Valentine Rodger

    A revelation. I very much wish I’d watched the whole series, and certainly will if it is re-run. Thank you.

  • Krystal Kemp

    I truly enjoyed this series and learned a lot of who i am

  • dudeluv

    its son jarocho

  • sandrita mason

    “Whitening” the population seems to have been a strong ethos in latin america. The attitude persists, as I found out when a Mexican-American academic spoke with me about blacks in Mexico. Instead of recounting the contributions of Africans to Mexico’s music and cuisine or the role of Africans in Mexico’s independence, this professor simply dismissed them as “marginal”, a group that was “bred out”. Maybe, dna testing will definitively show whether the African has been bred out of Mexico and the rest of latin america. But, the move to “whiten” a country’s population should be called what it is: genocide. Many thanks to Prof. Gates for this wonderful PBS series. Has any tv station in latin america done such a program? Since no one else stepped forward to tell the story, I’m glad Prof. Gates had the wherewithal to do it. He did a fine job.

  • TruthSeeker

    First , wow !!! this is great. I love all the episodes. It is good to see that there are still people who want to educate the masses.

  • Chef Alisia

    Really interesting and explains a lot about my grandmother’s attitude. She was from Mexico and married a very dark black man in the 1920’s. I can see the history Dr.Gates speaks of in picture of my family.

  • Taneka Dixon

    I am sad to see this series over so quickly. I hope that Dr. Gates does more of these wonderful documentaries. There are a lot more Latin American Countries and I would love to learn more of their African/Mixed race history. I hope that next season there is a continuation of this series. Thank you PBS for supporting such efforts. All of Dr. Gates documentaries have had a profound effect on my life.

  • Caroline Penate

    As a Latin person I have found this series enlightening. I would suggest to Dr. Gates to study prejudiscm in El Salvador back in the 1930s. My grandmother told me thta president Martinez did not allow entry to blacks, Chinese or Arabs. I would like to know about Central America’s black heritage. My great-grandmother was half-black. My family has never acknowledged it. I know it from looking at her pictures. Great work Dr. Gates!

  • Leila Haile

    Excellent series!!! Thank you Dr. Gates for doing this series. I learned a lot about the African roots in Latin America and learned so much.

  • Erica

    Excellent research!!!

    So the African descendants of Mexico do not even look like a typical black person (curly kinky hair, etc.). Very interesting. Before my genetic DNA test, I did not give Latin America any thought. It was not even on my radar.

    I have been suspected as being Hispanic by Hispanics, but I would always say no. “Are you from Jamaica? No….Are you Dominican? No….. Are you mixed with Indian from ‘India’? No….”

    There is no doubt from the local population of my home region that I am Black and Native American, but there are and will still be doubters of my blended ancestry. Personally, my blood is very mixed.

    Yes, I am an African descendant and Indigenous American, but I never thought in a million years that I would be connected to the Mestizo/Hispanic population.

    Thanks again! :-)

  • Carlos Gomez

    Dr. Gates,
    Thank you for doing this excellent series first of all, and specially for focusing on countries such as Mexico and Peru. Quite differently from other Latin American nations, such as Cuba, Colombia, and Venezuela, Mexico and Peru are left out as nations with a distinct African identity. I am from Chihuahua, a state in the North, where the “mestizaje” occurred to a much lesser degree than in the South because the Natives headed for the canyons and refused to be subjugated. Thus the presence of more white skin Mexicans, and fewer, brown phenotypes. Immigration from the South to the North has of course changed things over the centuries. Mexico came out recently with a weak movement, weak because it faded or did not gain support, to finally identify our Third Root, La Tercera Raiz, that of the Africans in Mexico. I was glad at the time, but then came the controversy of Memin Penguin. My father grew up reading that racist comic book, as did many others of his generation. It’s too bad we have such a strong visual representation of our Native heritage, murals by Rivera, Siqueiros, etc., but not many proud depictions of our African influence. Things need to change. The Soap Operas would be a good place to start…Mexicans love watching these. Cast an Afro-Mexican as a hero, or a beauty, not as a servant. Stop with all of the light skinned Mexican recycled actors and actresses.

  • André Handcox

    Rarely has there ever been a series where I actually craved to see more. I understand the reasons why you chose the particular places that you visited but I wish that you could have visited places like Belize, Honduras, Columbia and Nicaragua. I absolutely loved this series. I loved the perspectives you allowed others to give and the stories and active particpation of your subjects. I believe that one must understand and have a sense of their own history in order to better know and understand yourself and those around you. I enjoy how in telling the black experience you have made it a human experience encomapsing a grand picture of the African diaspora and its contributions. I truly hate to see this end. Thank you
    I am a black man married to a Nicaraguan wife and we have two wonderful children. I am trying to give them a sense of self and that means giving them knowledge of their mom’s country, the carribean of my biological father, and the America of my mother and father.

  • Luis


  • Luis


  • RAUL


  • CDavis

    This is a wonderful documentary that took me back to my visit to El Carmen in 2003. I had the opportunity to spend several days as a guest at the Hacienda San Jose where I learned about the history of the Hacienda itself and enslaved Africans in Peru. It was nice to see that Professor Gates paid a visit to the Ballumbrosio homestead. There I met the family patriarch and was treated to an impromptu performance by young men playing cajons (box drums) and young girls dancing traditional AfroPeruvian dances. While watching the program, I recognized at least one of the same young girls, and it was really something to see that she’d grown into a beautiful young lady since my visit to El Carmen eight years ago. Watching this episode felt like a reunion of sorts – it was a joy to see familiar places and faces. I was so sad to see that damage had been done to the Hacienda during the earthquake, but am grateful that Professor Gates rightly placed the spotlight on a side of Peru that deserves much more attention.

  • Tamara

    Dr. Gates I am beyond impress by your interest in the contribution blacks made to the socio economic heritage of the world. And this leads me to ask why Blacks are content to classify themselves as “nigga”. I wonder why it is acceptable to use European definitions to define ourselves and not African descriptives. What is the cause. Why do blacks dispute been African but will accept Nigga. I am eternally confused. Perhaps it is because the history of black impression on history has been stifled. I wish our education systems would teach black history as a foundation to the world socio economy, so that especially blacks can make informed decisions on how we define ourselves. So that blacks can properply correct and respond to how others define or describe them.
    Ur series reassures me that making the best of the word nigga is making the best of a position that I do not believe defines me.

  • david

    Great starting point for those interested in the history of Africans in the new world. Impossible to tell the whole story in one hour. Africans also came as conquistadors, not something to be proud of but still a fact. other Africans came as free people looking for a new life just like Europeans did. Maybe there will be a second installment.

  • Mr.Aranda

    The vast majority of Mexicans ,even those with African ancestory should still classify themselves as indio and not African,it was silly to me to see these people identify themselves as black when obviously there outer appearance resembles more of there indigenous gene that makes up majority of there dna.The one drop rule is not a good look for Mexico thats why this series failed with people who know the truth.
    …..but then again Mr. Gates is an afrocentric,so what do you expect from a documentary.

  • Nyanga 110/Afro Mestizo de Mex.

    I would like to comment /reply to two people (1) Sandrita Mason (2) and Sharon…. I’ll begin with Sandrita; Dear Sandrita, I have no idea what your backgroung/heritage is I’ll just say that Mexico’s Barrack Obama, AKA Vicente Guerrero the second president of Mex. (An Afr Mestizo) was one of the greatest accomplishments / contributions of the Afro Mejicano. Gaspar Yanga or Nyanga, created the FIRST FREE TOWN OF THE AMERICAS, ANOTHER GREAT CONTRIBUTION as well as his STATUE which stands in the town of Yanga…. Jose Maria de Pavon, an Afro Mestizo, a priest and a general who aided Vicente Guerrero in the battle against our CONQUEROR the Spaniard… Look up the word GENOCIDE…. and look up the word MISCEGENATION…. NOW CAN YOU SEE WHAT HAPPEN TO THE NEARLY 1 MILLION SLAVES OF MEX.(2 Sharon, most of the Germans you speak of that live in Mex. ran from Germany and took cover all over Latin America (especially in the country of Chile where they just about decimated the Indigenous pop.) Why did the Germans run to Latin America? I’ll let you answer that question however, I do know that many who were responsible for war crimes against Jewish people : RAN and HID!!!! Personally I don’t recognize Germans as being contributers to the Country of Mex. or Latin America. As far as I’m concerned they brought with them what the first conquerors brought, HATRED and RACISM!!!! You seem to be concerned as to why Prof. Gates left out the Indigeous in this film…. Well guess what… THE SUBJECT OF THIS FILM WAS ????? Right, The Black Grandma in the CLOSET? The entire world KNOWS that the Indigenous pop of Mex. were the first slaves of Mex./ Latin America but the diseases of the spaniards almost wiped them out… These diseases surley killed damn near the entire Carribean Indigenous this is why miscegenation did not take place as much on those little islands…

  • eve

    This is soooo rich. Thanks, Dr. Gates, for this series.

    It’s really important to expose everyone (especially kids) to global diversity. Otherwise by default they’ll deny the diversity of their own people thinking Black folks only live in one city or country and behave according to the caricatures they see. It’ll be really cool when everyone has an appropriate macro-view of Survivors of the TransAtlantic Slave Trade: that we speak Portuguese, Spanish, English, French, and Dutch … that we are phenotypically varied … that we range from powerful to powerless … and that some of us have the benefit of our original cultural elements that others of us were forced to deny or simply lost over time.

    Kids (and others) would do well to know they’re truly part of a DIASPORA. That way, they can have the freedom to be themselves, instead of a clone of an image television constantly displays.

  • tia mack

    This is in response to the May 11th comment from Krista Rudd.
    I do agree that the indigenous contributions should not be ignored. However, Dr. Gate’s area of expertise is “Black Studies”. He has spent years and years doing research in this particular area. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure he COULD do a good job if he chose to do a documentary on Indigenous people of Latin America.

    That is just not his specialty. And he may not do it justice (although I have not doubt he would do well). And keep in mind he is of African descent (African-American ) . And the indigenous (Aztec, Maya, Arawak, Taino) is pretty well recognized and documented although I realize the indigenous do not get the credit that is deserved and much of the history has been denied, omitted and lied about in this society.
    Black / African descent is usually ignored, denied, shunned or demonized around the world by ALL ethnic groups, including in Latin America especially if phenotypical features are not readily visible (as in Mexico). But even if features are obvious and visible (i.e., kinky / curly hair, dark skin, full lips and nose) , there is still denial.

  • Anna

    Very good. I thank Mr.Gates for this series. As an American woman who is of Afro-Mexican descent, I am very happy that my people are finally being recognized. I am proud of my multi-cultural heritage,yet it is unfortunate that many people of Mexican descent do not acknowledge the fact that there are Afro-Mexicans.

  • Maria

    @Mr. Aranda in not ONE part of any of the series, Cuba, Dominican Republic etc. did Professor Gates tell the people what they SHOULD classify themselves…Who are you to tell people what THEY should identify as. Skip Gates didn’t do it and neither should you. You identify yourself as what YOU want to be called. Others have that same right.

  • Mel

    I wish he would not say “SLAVES” I prefer “prisoners of war” or just AFrikans because when you just say SLAVES it suggests that that is the extint of their heritage thats what they were are and forever will be. It grates my nerves. How about.. “this is what the imrpisoned Afrikans would have seen first”

  • sleumas75

    I don’t think anyone is ignoring the indigenous part of their heritage, but not including the african is not right either. If that many slaves were transported to Mexico then they have a lot of “black” in them no one wants to talk about it. I mean black people in America are mixed with alot of things, but we are identified as black no matter how we look. I think it’s interesting that people claim the Indian, but want to discount the African and if you do that then you are denying apart of your culture and customs that were from Africa.

  • melisa

    It is time tor Peruvians to take pride in the Afro Peruvian Culture…..and not only the music. This was a great documentary that will be shared with my family from Peru and my students who are mostly afro americans. I speak to them a lot about doulbe ethnicities that hispanics carry.

  • Alex

    I completely agree with Mr. Aranda. The majority of those “Blacks” in Mexico hardly resemble Black people. At he very least they should identify as mixed, not just Black as Mr. Gates wishes for these people to be. They are also Indigenous. Otherwise Mr. Gates is simply supporting the one drop rule created by Whites.

  • DeWayne

    Of course I realize your focus is on the contribution Africans have made to New World cultures. But you are so single-minded that you virtually ignore all other contributions, e.g. the indigenous, many of which surpassed anything that happened in sub-Saharan Africa. As pointed out by another commenter, your rendition of Spanish is execrable. This indicates a disrespect for the cultures you are discussing, which may be the way you feel, since these people (the dominant cultures) enslaved your people. But, it appears disingenuous as you sit and schmooze with people who are part of those cultures. It seems to me that the last gentleman you speak with has it right. It is time to stop re-masticating history and get on with life and the future.

  • Stephanie Albright

    I love the study of black culture in particular, wherever that takes me. I’m speechless and have to thank Prof. Gates for his continued research and revelations! I love this series!

  • Maria Delgado

    Thank you very much for this documentary. i wish you would cover all the Hispanic countries as well as Puerto Rico. It is great to read how our people are glad that our African heritage has been brought to light. I am also glad that the reality of denial from our people have also resurface. I apologize for the the ignorant comments even from those who are suppose to be educated. Again muchas gracias Dr. Gates, my brother!

  • Marcos Lukaña

    Beautiful documentary !! I hope that their will be a version with Spanish Subtitles so that Black people in Spanish speaking countries can understand it as well. Multicultural States are the answer I think. Not assimilation like happened in Mexico. Having pride for ones cultural heritage, able to be yourself, to stay in contact with your ancestorers and with the present reality and give your identity to your children. The past, present and future in balance.

  • Renee

    Thank You, Dr. Gates and PBS for this interesting and informative documentary. I wish in the near future (Black in Latin America 2) you could have visited places like Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Also, I am interested in Blacks in Canada. Again, I absolutely loved this series, will ensure that my kids and their friends enjoy it as well.

  • Danilo

    Mr. Aranda, you totally missed an opportunity here to write something intelligent about the work that Dr. Gates has done with this series. It is what it is, and we in Mexico, Central and South America have a little piece of black in us. Accept the facts for what they are. There is nothing wrong with knowing the true nature of our beautiful heritage.

  • tharp

    As a high school student in the early late 80’s my friend and I stumbled on a fascinating documentary called “The Africans”. The show was hosted, narrated and researched by Prof. Ali Mazrui of Binghamton University and focused on the cultural history of Africa and it’s inhabitants. Henry Louis Gates’ documentary on Blacks in Latin America is a refreshing reminder of this type of research and does a great job of highlighting an otherwise overlooked aspect of the latin world. Mazrui made me aware of the strong presence of Moors in southern spain (Andalucía) and in this episode there is mention of Spain’s tolerance for interracial relationships as a direct result of their exposure to Moors many years before.

    I look forward to purchasing the entire series and making it available for my friends and family to enjoy.

  • Professor X

    @ Mr. Aranda:

    The vast majority of Mexicans are indigenous. Your rhetoric would fall along the lines, syllogistically, that Americans of African ancestry who are bi-racially to a point of appearing more white than black, should discount any linkage to their African ethnicity. That they should accentuate the “positive”, as it were. This is just what was stated earlier in the blog:

    sandrita mason says:
    May 11, 2011 at 11:04 pm
    “Whitening” the population seems to have been a strong ethos in latin america. The attitude persists, as I found out when a Mexican-American academic spoke with me about blacks in Mexico. Instead of recounting the contributions of Africans to Mexico’s music and cuisine or the role of Africans in Mexico’s independence, this professor simply dismissed them as “marginal”, a group that was “bred out”.

    The hemogeny principle of one drop has been thoroughly renounced, and the people who founded and propounded it were slave-owning colonists in America. Therefore, I find it puzzling that you seem to believe African Americans, or Afro-centrics, hold to this notion. And Gates is not the only academic who has revealed studies about African Mexicans. Professor Bobby Vaughn, a professor of anthropology at Notre Dame de Namur University has written extensively about this subject, as well.

    The paradox of feelings between Mexican immigrants and African American students is a plank in my educational consultation group (T.R.I.A.G.E. Group) that is discussed thoroughly because of the recent publishings about this little known macrosocial culture, and how it rubs against advancements African Americans have made in the past 60 years.

    Oh, by the way, I am actually not a professor, but have two master’s degrees and published. Henry Louis Gates and Dr. Vaughn have breached articulately a subject that has needed discussion, and will require a further analysis. Mr. Aranda, do not paint with such a broad brush because splotches of color on a canvas with no details cannot hold much interest for a viewer.

  • Terrell

    Excellent series I learned alot Being a well traveled African American 15+ countries, I noticed in travels to Panama that all of the Bill Boards featured Europeans but all the people I met were Brown like me? I think African Americans with our Civil rights movement appears to have given us a chance to identify ourselves. Where countries with Africans w/o a definable civil rights movement have allowed others to identify them i.e. La Negra Mama. Also, I noticed in my travels that many Africans in other countries define themselves with their current nation i.e. Cuba, Haiti, DR, Trinidad , Aruba,etc. Then there continent or country of Origin as we do here in America. One thing I do notice in my travels that when someone asks me where I am from I don’t say Africa. I say America.

  • claudy

    amazing!! I’ve only seen one episode but can’t seem to stop. I’ve always looked at mexican traditions as being very close to african’s. I always wondered why. In Canada where I live, I’ve also felt very close to latino’s and jokingly figured they were lighter black people…well I guess I was partially right. Thank you so much for doing this research.

  • JThos

    Good series! I would have liked more countries included (new season)! One irony I found was that a Black priest from Trinidad was featured in the Afro-Mexican community, yet no mention was made of St. Martin de Porres. a Peruvian Dominican friar in Lima. He is very celebrated among Catholics in the Americas of all backgrounds for decades. Some may not know he is Black (Mulato) , although his African features are visible in artwork. Oh well, I became aware of him through JA Rogers, et al. over thirty years ago.There are a number of books from before 1950 that chronicle and have data on the African diaspora, especially in the Americas.

  • j,a,

    well the word indian came when. c.columbus came to the american continent,, so is wrong when you called somebody indian,,native people is better. 70% the poeple en mexico are mixed aztec and blood from spain..29.5 are whites.and ,5% can be blacks :)

  • Airness

    This would be excellent if the professor would note that there is only one race and it is human on earth. Black is not a race and does not describe the true essence of the people. Black is a negative description of the indigenous people of America or North and Southwest Amexem. The Moors lived in North and South America and develop many nations and kingdoms not only in Europe. Black is not the name of any nation on earth and does not connect the people to the human family, it disconnects them intentionally. Not all the olive complexion people came to the Americas as slaves, most were here before the so called Europeans came exploring. It is impossible to bring that many people to this land mass without records of the lumber, food, sails, etc being produced by a company. The culture that was shared was not from slaves but from the indigenous people here since the great earthquake. It would help if the so called truly educated refrain from using such negative descriptions of people that bear no connection to the nations of the earth. People are gathered and described by the nations in which they live not by a black description that means death. That word is only used to denationalize the indigenous people.

  • Kenya Smith

    Your exterior is not the determining factor of your race. DNA is more specific, but life experience usually determines your place/race in society.

  • Karim-Villanueva

    Kudos to Prof. Gates for ‘Blacks in Latin America’. It is especially touching for me to watch this and realize that the word is out. This stuff has been suppressed for a long time. Because of his program a lot of important history was uncovered, and at least people can say, ‘Hey! There’s a documentary you need to watch!’ It’s especially satisfying to see Afro-Latino scholars and educators add their insights to the Black experience in Latin America, but it would be interesting to see the ‘Behind the Scenes’. I’m sure he encountered plenty of ignorance filming this as well. I have very strong native roots (my dad being from Chetumal, Mx) and Africa is definitely part of who I am, as well as Europe, and it all unifies nicely in me and my children. Can’t blame people for being shortsighted, if they can’t see the big picture. This series fills a need for people like me to see the whole story of our heritage.

  • Orlando

    Professor Gates approaches this project with a US African American perspective, which is too ethnocentric. Whereas in the US, as he keeps reminding everyone, there was a policy that one drop of black blood would determine that a person was black, in Latin America a drop of white blood made a person a mestizo. Gates does not understand the process of mestizaje, which is obviously something foreign to him, just as segregation is something foreign to Latin Americans.

  • Raymond W. Suarez

    Professor Gates,

    Just a brief note to relate to you how much we are thoroughly enjoying the Blacks in Latin America series. Of course from the Institute’s weekend conference discussions I have an inside view on the formation of the work. It gives me even more appreciation for what you have accomplished.

    First, your attention to detail, accuracy, education, and scholarship is noticed and commended. There have been many instances where I’ve seen decisions were made not to leave something out, albeit briefly, in the interest of telling the full and complete story, and educating the public to the fullest.

    Secondly, you have managed to create a highly intelligent structure and scholarly presentation, and still make it consummable and entertaining to the general public. That is no mean feat. It takes a lot of work, I know, as I have worked in the television business.

    Thirdly, the production quality and values are first rate. As we discussed last night, scholarship plus entertaining structure plus talented production makes for just plain good television. Period.

    And finally, you have managed to remain true to an Afrocentric, non-traditional perspective, in telling the story of Blacks in Latin America, and at the same time, the history of relationships between peoples of European, African and Indian descent over the last six hundred years. You are relaying to America and the World a history that many have never encountered or considered before. For many Americans viewing these shows, this will be the first time they have heard or seen the European colonization of “the New World” through eyes other than European and American.

    Years ago, I was struck by visiting the Iwo Jima Memorial to see around the base the list of countries where US Marines had spilled blood. A list that included countries against which we never had declared wars, such as Libya, Panama, Guatemala, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. I did a bit of homework and was startled to learn of the roles played by US business and military interests in shaping and formulating the Latin America we know today. Along the lines of Walter Rodney’s classic “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa.”

    There is a very civil veneer over your current PBS series, but there is some very serious, perhaps even radical, education being performed across America on every viewer who tunes in. Congratulations on a masterwork, and thank you for your vision and achievement.

  • Miguel Ariza

    Professor Gates:
    I wanted to congratulate you on this very insightful TV series about being black in Latin America. I hope that you have the opportunity to explore black history in other Latin American countries.

    I invite you to visit Colombia, which has an extremely rich African tradition and history. Cartagena, was a key colonial port for the Americas, through which thousands of African slaves arrived.

    Sadly Afro-Colombians today struggle with major issues in social inequalities and discrimination. I invite you to come to Colombia to shed to light this history and expose Afro-Colombian’s present struggles to the international community.

  • Conrad

    Professor Skip
    Thank you so much…being of Caribbean descent…with a black mother from venezuela…a black father from french guyana…I have always been curious about the black culture in latin america…thanks again….

  • Pam

    Dr. Gates,

    Your bias is clear all throughout these documentaries. It is fine to Afrocentric but to go to Latin America and try to shape or mold your opinion based on the issues in America is just unacceptable. As a scholar myself we are taught to identify biases’ and to try to eliminate them from our research. I feel that you failed at this. You forgot to acknowledge the very important indigenous people that were highly influential in all of Latin America. We do not subscribe to the “one drop rule” so it is insulting to be called simply a “Negro/Negra” it is denying the Spanish and indigenous parts of who you are. I personally am proud of my African descent but also of my other heritages, it is wrong to deny those parts of myself as many Americans do when they are of mixed race. Once again, I am happy that you shed light on this issue on being “Black” (which in itself is a wrong term) in Latin America, but next time, try to be less impartial.

  • S.C.

    What an excellent and knowledgeable show. It’s a shame that many Latinos don’t know their own history. BTW, there is also a strong Afro-Latino presence in Oaxaca, Guerrero, and parts of Chiapas just like in Veracruz.

  • Hardini Carter

    Wow, this is one of the most interesting documents I have seen on television. This really brings light to the African culture and how far we were transported around the world. People need not forget how a culture was moved from their homes and used for labor unwillingly. Thank you for educating the world. NPTV “Rocks”

  • N/A

    To whomever said the focus is narrow…you are sadly mistaken. It is true that the indios experience discrimination etc…. but in many cases, they are recognized on a national level, or rather the indigenious history-no matter how misconstrued- is prevalent. In many Latin American countries afro latinos do not have this basic privilege and suffer from a lack of visibility. This especially being the case in Peru, where activists are fighting that government at least starting counting, or providing data relating to the numbers of Afro peruanos. But you know what, who receives more visibility is irrelevant. It has nothing to do with the importance of this video. Also, its fruitless to argue ‘who has it worse’….

    This documentary is by no means an extensive look into Afrolatinos but at the very least represents increased visibility and acknowledgement of these communities. Because in reality Americans have no idea that they exist. We somehow believe the we received the brunt of slavery.

  • Mark

    This documentary will be an integral part of my mulitcultural training in education, concerning friction here in California between African American students and Latino students. I was pleased to hear how the mureno in Costa Chica, and other parts of Mexico, are beginning to insist that they be disaggregated in census statistics in Mexico. This may very well be the spring of an Afromexicano civil rights movement, and one long overdue. The educated and uneducated in both our countries are ignorant of many facts, it seems. Myself, I didn’t have a great awareness of the Afromexicano populace in Guerrero and Costa Chica until the past year. Disconcerting though are Mr. Aranda’s statements, that fuel the dogma of gentrification regarding the subject. He is saying that Mexicans should denounce any classification of African ancestry, regardless of appearance. This is the kind of thinking that permeates many of the children of Mexican immigrants here in Southern California. That mentality, mixed with a disregard for the American Civil Rights struggle, create an oppositional dynamic at times in our schools that end in violence. Neither side realizes their cultural nexus: one believing Latino gangs have an agenda of racist intimidations in store for them, and the other believing African Americans are grouped together with the “mayate” culture of Mexico, and not deserving of any more respect than what Mexican culture gives Afromexicanos. Interestingly enough, Malcolm X was exhorting his followers to pay more attention to the Pan-African politics at work within the world, and how people of African ancestry (regardless of country of origin) needed to coalesce a standard of being to be recognized as a filter for social interpretation and interaction. Mr. Gates documentary illustrates clearly how the need still exists for such an international dialogue.

  • Sther

    I truly enjoy Dr. Gates documentary. I hope he will visit Honduras next time. I pray that people see the big picture, the origin of what we now called mestizo. Dr. Gates helped me understand the mentally of many black men that married outside their race. I am just going to say that we need to know where we came from to know where we are heading. And there is no shame just JOY.

  • Angel

    I am a proud Afro-Mexican myself and this video thrilled me like not a lot of things have before!!!! The Fandangos! The girl in Yanga! It is simply beautiful to see people whose African features have been diminished but they still consider themselves black! I get bugged a lot in Mexico city for being proud of my heritage, they keep saying “you’re not black, you’re indio” but when it comes to the a negative aspect about blacks they automatically turn to me, mestizos from DF are so ignorant!

    Check out this video I made about “Mexican Racial Hypocrisy”

    Thanks for this video!!! We need this kind of information to get our people aware!!!!

  • Angel

    I am a proud Afro-Mexican myself and this video thrilled me like not a lot of things have before!!!! The Fandangos! The girl in Yanga! It is simply beautiful to see people whose African features have been diminished but they still consider themselves black! I get bugged a lot in Mexico city for being proud of my heritage, they keep saying “you’re not black, you’re indio” but when it comes to the a negative aspect about blacks they automatically turn to me, mestizos from DF are so ignorant!

    Check out this video I made about “Mexican Racial Hypocrisy”

    Thanks for this video!!! We need this kind of information to get our people aware!!!!

  • Byard Pidgeon

    The series is very good. I learned a lot more than I expected about the persistence of racial discrimination in this hemisphere, and I think perhaps some people I know from Latin America might have had their comfort zones pinched, and maybe questioned their identities a bit.
    However, I cringed every time Skip Gates mangled a phrase or name in Spanish. Would it have been too much trouble to at least take a basic course or tutelage in Spanish at Harvard???

  • Jennifer

    Thank you Dr. Gates! I see you made progress! There are many who would try to stop you from sharing the truth about African heritage in Latin Countries. Please continue the good work!

  • Dario

    Great Series indeed.. Prof. Gates thank you!! I hope you expand on this one day in the near future with other Latin American nations.. The series actually explains a lot about the mindsets of many Latinos. As a young black man (afro-dominicano+african american) I understand that black or anything relating to blackness has an ugly stigma attached to it. Many latinos were raised on centuries-old racism and prejudices.. Black for many can be defined as ugly, undesirable, dark, evil and just plain no good. That stigma lasted generations and continues too. I’m glad you focused on the very significant contributions made by people of African descent. After all many latinos claim their only heritage comes from the indigenous and european demographics and if they have any african ancestry it’s marginal. I thank you for the series and I thank all the people that opened their minds regarding this documentary series.

  • Daniel R.

    I’d like to start by saying that I loved the series. It was amazing to learn about Latin America’s African roots and also a nice way of showing other parts of the world that Latin America isn’t only Indigenous and White. I would like to comment on Mr.Aranda’s comment, I don’t believe that people should with African ancestry should classify as “indio” they would just be denying their African roots which would go against the purpose of the documentary.

  • Attn: Mr. Aranda – Phil H.

    The racist hates and treats people different not because he is black or Indio but because he is not white. Black or Indio, does it really matter, REALLY.

  • Mr.Aranda

    ..I would just want to add something,although I dont agree with somethings in the documentary it still shouldnt take away the time and effort Dr.Gates did by bring the focus to Mexico,it was beautiful to see another side that many people dont get to see about us.
    Good luck Dr. Gates

  • Caamal Canul

    We were very anxious to see PBS’ and the reknowned Dr. Gates’ rendition of the black diaspora in Latin America. In fact we watched all 4 episodes carefully. We were pleased to note that finally someone would recognized the existence, contribution, and suffering of Pan-Africans in Latin America. Equally disappointing, however, was the shallow representation of the socio-cultural context of the Americas. Naturally, one hour isn’t truly enough to explain the extraordinarily complex interplay between las razas en el nuevo mundo, but it was decidedly biased (blacks as monolithic entity in Latin America) and full of old (and worn) cliches. Always comparing the black experience in the U.S. with that in Latin America, no mention was ever made of the racial and cultural composition of the Spaniards – centuries of Arabic mestizaje – or their behaviors which were entirely different from those of the Anglos who came to the Northern Americas. The total lack of familiarity with the language and obvious lack of interest – in fact it was downright insulting to hear Dr. Gates massacre every name he pronounced – only further gave proof to the incredibly irreverant/cavalier way he (and the producers) handled the context – like turistas. He didn’t even capitalize on the wonderful name of the capoeira instructor, Boa Gente – which means “Good Person’. Yanga is well known to all Mexicans as is the Costa Chica, but to ask the little girl in the park if she is black (con la cara de Juarez) to which she responded “si” only proves one thing… how little Dr.Gates understands the Indian ethos. With cameras rolling and el Americano interviewing, what else would she have said?

  • Foo

    It would really help if you would pronounce …or at least try to pronounce some of the words correctly. I cringe every time you say something in Spanish. Other then that, great series.

  • Damian

    I live in Chicago, but am of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent. I am literally in love with my culture. We are so different yet so the same. We embrace who we are and when I visited Veracruz, I felt complete. Its okay to be who we are and to know that its not about being black or latino, its just being a beautiful people. Not being ashamed of what was created and I for one, am in love with my culture. What a great PBS story and I will make sure to share this with every latino I know.

  • Ayleen

    African blood is very visible in the south of Mexico and one place that is not in the video that has strong afro blood is Oaxaca, Mexico. Which has one of the largest indigenous population (with many of it’s people having very visible afro blood) although they believe they’re “indians”. The native population overcame the afro one in mixture reason being why many who have visible afro blood don’t really know it or ignore it. Also, something that wasn’t mentioned in this documentary was the afro heritage that people of Mexican heritage from Texas, New Mexico have. These states when they were part of Mexico (read upon the Alamo) many of the afro’s sent to the south were mixing with the mestizo’s and many of the Mexicans we’re helping the afro- slaves escape slavery. There is also a visible mixture of afro in the north of Mexico near the ports like Mazatlan, certain areas of Michoacan etc. There have been beauty queens of these states who look very mullata. Juan de la rosa Is a Afro-Mexican boxer from Tamaulipas Mexico. He fits the mestizo-afro mixture.

  • Tms

    I thought this program was very informative. I am a black american who is always interested in different cultures. I find it funny that people of Hispanic cultures with dark complexion will not admit that there is black anywhere in there family history. My mother’s last name is Castillo, which is a Mexican/Hispanic name but my grandparents spoke French. I’m sure there is some Hispanic blood in my family history. I am open to finding out my grandfathers family history. It is going to be a little hard because there is no one left from his side of the family. But I will never deny that I have some spanish blood in my family history. I think that it’s funny how people cringe when the word “Black” is mensioned as part of their heritage.

  • Tracie Pendolino

    My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this entire series. Honestly, I never thought about the other places African slaves were taken to. It was enthralling to see how other societies evolved with the influence of African cultures. It is disappointing, yet admittedly interesting, to see that it doesn’t matter what culture it is, dark skinned people are almost always discriminated against or subjugated in some way. It would be interesting to know all of the details behind skin color and socio-economic mobility in places like India, China, and the Middle East. I would love it if Dr. Gates could apply his same style of research and narration to that question as well. Very well done!

  • Gilda Zarate-Gonzalez

    Professor Gates, This documentary is remarkable and unforgettable. It is an educational and information piece that willd reach hearts and minds of people that could possibly make changes to achieve the dream of those who fought for freedom from slavery and prejudice centuries ago. I worry that having escaped the lack of opportunity as an Indigenous Afro-mestiza woman myself, the U.S. will make the same mistakes that Mexico made by trying to achieve ‘equality’ by self-denial. Let’s continue pursuing our humanity by honoring our cultural inheritance whether this is tangible and visible or subtle. What a legacy you are to leave us with this work.

  • creek

    @Mr. Aranda

    It’s silly of you to think that black Mexicans should classify themselves as Indio only, because they are clearly ALSO of African descent—that is obviously how THEY, and not Prof. Gates, define themselves. You need to ask yourself why you even have a problem with the fact that they identify as both—do you have a problem with the African part? Sounds like a little bit of racism showing on your part. I don’t see why, because one does NOT cancel out the other. It is not up to YOU to decide how they should define themselves anyway. They’re both black and Mexican—get over it!

  • SG

    I greatly appreciate the effort to bring light to the very significant genetic and cultural contributions of Africans to Mexico and Peru. This is obviously very important historical information.

    However, what I’m a little troubled by is Professor Gates’s seemingly indiscriminate usage and application of “black” identity. At times he seems to be working toward the very noble goal of sketching out historical and social experiences of Latin Americans of African descent in order to provide a much fuller account of Latin American history and to expand what it means to be Mexican and Peruvian. Yet at other times he seems to be doing this almost only to get certain Mexicans and Peruvians to identify as “black” and to homogeneously link themselves and certain historical experiences in Mexico and Peru to African Americans and black-identified folks in “Western” countries like the US. I’m thinking specifically of when Gates commented on the Afro-Mexicano cultural celebration he was witnessing as reminding him of Harlem– but in Mexico. There’s an almost universalizing quality to what he said because of how it seems that for him what he was watching and participating in in this particular scene is interchangeable with what African Americans and black-identified people do in the US.

    Lastly, he seldom, if ever, refers to Mexicans of African descent as “Afro-Mexicanos,” “Afro-Mestizos,” etc. He instead chooses to talk about “black” identity, which is undoubtedly an import from the “West.” Perhaps it is more appropriate and sensitive to engage Mexicans and Peruvians of African descent using more culturally specific terms, whatever they may be. If we don’t, there is obviously the risk of committing, to use Spivak’s term, epistemic violence and cultural imperialism.

  • Camilla Warrior

    @Krista Rudd, the film was called BLACK in Latin American. If you want to see one on the Native American population, then by golly stand up and produce one!!

    Don’t just complain about it, be the change you want to see. Any such film should be made FOR the people, BY the people. He’s a Black man exploring topics about his people. I’m Native American (Chitimacha), and if such a documentary is made, it is NOT Gates’ responsibility! It is OUR responsibility.

  • Carlos Gomez

    To “gn”, I am very glad that you will be showing the documentary to your classroom students, especially since you teach in Chicago, where there are many Latinos (PR’s, Mexicans especially) and AA. I could say the same thing needs to happen in California, especially Los Angeles, but in general everywhere there is a high mix of AA and Mexicans/other Latinos. Great job! To the other Latinos who chimed in about the indigenous groups of Mexico being left out of the series, or being ignored. No doubt that is the case, they too are marginalized everywhere in Latin America. We can’t blame Dr. Gates however, or PBS, for leaving them out of the series, their contributions, etc. It is not up to an African American Professor to do a series about Indigenous groups in Latin America, especially when the focus was “Blacks” in Latin America. Where are our Latino Professors or Professors with Indigenous roots? Lastly, to say that Blacks in Mexico have been “blended” out of existence is pure idiocy. In the US, you are called or categorized as “Black” even when the individual may be as brown as Beyonce. There are plenty of Afro-Mexicans still with strong African features in Mexico. What has been “Blended” out is not their ethnic backgrounds, which vary based on ancestry, but rather the pure African culture that came with them when they were forcibly brought to Mexico, Brazil, the US, etc. They will always be Black, because “white” society imposes color on them to keep them marginalized.

  • Jose Lopez

    There is a mistake on mofongo. She said that in Puerto Rico is known as fufu. I grew up in Puerto Rico and never heard the word fufu. So, mofongo is the word used in Puerto Rico.

  • jay cox

    absolutely eye opening, inspirational, worthy of intelligent discussion, awe inspiring given the breadth and complexity of a human history denied, disavowed, and denigrated, truly a testament to the triumph of the human spirit to not only survive but thrive in the face of centuries old, ceasless attacks upon human dignity, needs to be made part of the re education of the masses as it forces one to recognize the quite obvious influences in the americas of cultural brainwashing, romanticised notions of conquest and imposed ideologies of genocide. i would pause however and say that american afrocentric viewpoints may not translate well to eurocentric notions of race, culture, class and identity. is this series available in spanish…if so maybe telemundo, univision, other spanish language stations could broadcast ….

  • Tania Molina

    Prof. Gates thanks I am a Garifuna woman our story is very interesting and we are a culture very rich and prominent in Central America hopefully there is a part 2 of your documentary set and showcase our culture to the world

  • Raul Ramos y Sanchez

    Dr. Gates, you are to be commended for undertaking this series. So little is in known in the US about the diversity of Latin America. Your series helped fill in a huge gap in our understanding of Latinos by exploring the roots of people of Sub-Saharan African descent in Latin America.

    It’s impossible for any of us to put aside our preconceptions and I feel during the series Dr. Gates sometimes imposed his own views of what it means to be “black,” a term which in itself is loaded with cultural bias. That said, no one besides Dr. Gates has made the effort to so publicly address a topic so widely ignored. For that, I say “Bravo, Skip!”

  • Noelle Ramos-Vasconcelos

    As someone of Afro-Cuban descent this series is sooo important not just for those of us who are part of this mixed Latin culture but to those who are unaware of the racial diversity within Latin America. Thank you, thank you!! You represent US well!! Saludos, NRV

  • Meru

    It makes me happy to read that a teacher in the inner city of Chicago began showing the series to his latino and black students, for the young people (and some adults) need to know the truth about our history and how are roots are the same. It is unfortunate that the PBS station in Los Angeles, CA did not air the series, for if any area needed it, this is one.

  • Meru

    There is a problem I have watching this program as well as the others…the constant reference Dr. Gates makes to African people as ’slaves’ rather than ‘enslaved Africans’. Now, some may think this is a minor issue, but I’ve raised this issue in classrooms at Harvard and will continue to. African people are people and European people enslaved them. That is it. They were not some thing called slaves like pigs, goats, horses, mules, etc. As a scholar, it is important that Dr. Gates be aware of this difference and refer to African people as they were and are, human beings. Also, it is rather interesting that he is reporting that the Black presence and influence in Mexico is only connected to slavery. The giant Olmec statues have never been explained, and counter evidence to the scholarship being put forth these days – that Africans were not present there prior to slavery – must be considered. Read Dr. Yosef ben Jochanan, Dr. Cheihk Anta Diop,Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, and Dr. John Henry Clarke’s work for a start. To omit their findings in any discussion or report about the history of peoples of this world is not scholarship, in my opinion.

    Meru Kheop

  • Zahraa

    Hi my name is Zahraa Lopez im 13 years old and watching this has opened my eyes to many things. My Father is half black half Mexican with Cherokee and Salibou Indian blood. My mother is Black with Cherokee and Mohwak Indian blood. I thought i was the only Black-Mexican on earth but im proud to say that there is alot of people that share the same mix with me. I love my people they are beautiful! Thank you ! :)

    Love, Zahraa Lopez
    Bronx , NY

  • levrolan

    People of African origin first arrived in the Americas with the Spanish and Portuguese in the 15th and 16th centuries. Pedro Alonso Niño, traditionally considered the first of many New World explorers of African descent [8] was a navigator in the 1492 Columbus expedition. Those who were directly from Africa mostly arrived in Latin America as part of the Atlantic slave trade, as agricultural, domestic, and menial laborers and as mineworkers. They were also employed in mapping and exploration (for example, Estevanico) and were even involved in conquest (for example, Juan Valiente). They were mostly brought from West Africa and Central Africa in what are now the nations of Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Angola, and Congo, There are six major groups: the Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Oromo, Akan, and the Bantu . Most of the slaves were sent to Brazil, and the Caribbean, but lesser numbers went to Colombia and Venezuela. Countries with significant black, mulatto, or zambo populations today include Brazil (86 million), Colombia (11 million), Haiti (897 million), Dominican Republic (up to 9.1 million), Cuba (up to 5 million), and Puerto Rico (40%–66%). Recent genetic research in UPR Mayaguez has brought to light that 46.4% of Puerto Ricans have African heritage on the X chromosome and 50% on the Y chromosome, thus between 30%–56% of the Puerto Rican population has African heritage

  • lrolan

    The only way to understand Latin America- Mexico is understand Afro- hispanic or afro latino influenc of Language and music.. understandin the lingusitics aspects you can go direct origins of any peoplle.. Another key is So called racial caste system ..which is the concept of casta was initially adopted in medieval Spain to describe a person’s quality of origin or lineage, social status, and religious identity. Initially this concept recognized five major classes, namely Spanish, Moor, Jew, infidel, and villain. During the early colonization period the concept of casta was used interchangeably with the concept of race. It follows that the Leyes de Casta sought to regulate the interactions between individuals ascribed membership in different castas or races.
    were also used as the basis for the development of laws that afforded privileges and entitlements to members of the Spanish race while providing special punishments for Native Americans, mestizos or mulattoes, and blacks. In some cases the law enabled the formal segregation of non-Spanish subjects to the outskirts of towns. More importantly a person’s race or casta often was a precondition for social, economic, and political mobility. Ultimately, however, the anxieties generated over the mixture of races led to the creation of legal color categories that afforded its members distinct entitlements and to particular forms of discrimination contingent on the individual’s racial membership.
    were also used as the basis for the development of laws that afforded privileges and entitlements to members of the Spanish race while providing special punishments for Native Americans, mestizos or mulattoes, and blacks. In some cases the law enabled the formal segregation of non-Spanish subjects to the outskirts of towns. More importantly a person’s race or casta often was a precondition for social, economic, and political mobility. Ultimately, however, the anxieties generated over the mixture of races led to the creation of legal color categories that afforded its members distinct entitlements and to particular forms of discrimination contingent on the individual’s racial membership. please look at this below to fully understand -

  • lrolando
    The former Dr. Gonzalo Aguirre Beltran. Pioneer of Afromexican Studies and founder of the first Afromexican
    Historical Archives on this subject.. key like I said is understanding the The caste system and languages
    and DNA and Music and customs of the people

  • Eric Rodriguez

    @ Krista Rudd and all the other people on here that keep pointing out the fact there are other racial/ethnic groups throughout Latin America as well as complaining about how the indigenous people are not mentioned enough… stop it! No one is denying the fact that most of the current Latin American populations are still predominantly indigenous peoples. No one is denying that there are Chinese, Japanese, Indian(people from India), Arabic, and European(recent immigrants not colonial descendants) populations all across Latin America. The series focuses on the history of the African descendants in Latin America because they are the subject of the series which you should have realized once you read the title: BLACK in Latin America.

    @Dr. Gates and the PBS staff, thank you for making this documentary. I personally appreciate someone telling my family’s story. My mother is a Black American with Cherokee blood further down the family tree, but my father is a mixed race Puerto Rican; my grandfather is a White Puerto Rican and my grandmother is a Black/Taino Puerto Rican. Whenever I mention the Black side of my father’s family people actually argue with me like there is no way that there are Black African descendants in Puerto Rico. I guess they never heard of Felix Trinidad or Tego Calderon.

    P.S. Can you guys do an episode on Puerto Rico? I’m just saying…

  • Bro

    El oh el he said “Oh my God” in a church. Beautifully rich program though

  • John

    It is ostensibly clear that Dr. Gates and the mostly African American audience is filled with an insatiable craving to “hear” or “see” that the people of Spanish America are mixed with people of African descent. It is really sad to see Gates asked an Indian girl if she is black, as if the girls in Harlem or Africa have straight hair and indigenous features. Black people and Dr. Gates need to take pride in their “kinky” hair that no other people on earth has. Dr. Gates continually reference the millions more enslaved Africans that were taken to Latin America-in contrast to the U.S.-as if this is evidence that if African features are not physically present on the Hispanic population, then, it can be traced in their blood. Interestingly, the thought that the African slaves-mostly males-that were transported to Latin America were worked to death never occurs to Dr. Gates nor does he inquire about it. He discusses the mixing of the African slaves with Whites and Indians as if the Africans came to the Americas to hang out on the beach and drink margaritas. The undeniable truth is that in Spanish America-excluding the Caribbean-the black population was worked to death, and the white women had relations with white men and the Spanish made sure that the natives and the blacks had the least amount of contact in order to avoid a coalition between those two groups against them. However, the Spanish did have sex and married the Indian women and this is quite evident in the faces of the people of Spanish America. One has only to consider that by the U.S. Civil war there were almost 4 million slaves in the U.S. and only 1.5 million in Brazil; And Brazil-not Spanish America, imported the majority of all the slaves that came to this continent. See The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture

  • Selvin

    Meru, the documentary series wasn’t about the native populations of these countries, it was about the black people. There are documentaries that cover those native populations, but this is the first that has taken notice of the black presence in these countries. Also enslaved Africans / slaves, you’re just splitting hairs. The average person with basic sense knew exactly what he was talking about when the word slave was used.

  • kalli

    This was just wonderful. Thank you PBS and Mr. Gates for bringing us awareness of africans across Latin America.

  • vera

    Dr, Gates, it is so evident how much you love your people,,,,bless you,,,Please do research on the negroes of america, the hipanics and the native american indians being the TRUE LOST TRIBES OF ISRAEL,,this truth has been covered up which explains the conspiracy to keep egypt light,,,,hidden in their identity is the truth of the true biblical descendants of israel,,,bless you Mr. Gates

  • eirc broadnax

    im so glad this was brought to attention i knew it was something but i couldnt put my finger on it and this made it clear. This can bring about world change once we know who and what we are we can start to come together, to put it plan we are not African we are not Latin we are not Indian but we are descendents of them and this created a whole new race. we are spread all over the world. but we can learn from one another as the lost children, but we are lost nomore it time that we be reconise by the world.

  • Ariel

    Great Job!. Would like to point out Mofongo (PR), FU FU (Cuba), Mogo Mogo ( “Africa”), Mangu (DR), are different recipes althought made from green plantains.

  • roro

    Prof. Gates you did it again…
    You make me feel proud!!!
    what ever people think about Chris Columbus and the race struggles of the new world. I am proud of my mixture.

  • Jorge

    I loved the series, but when I saw the Mexico/Peru episode I noticed that most people on camera looked more indigenous. I am sure they have black history in their families, but I was saddened that even though they were obviously indigenous the episode ID’d them as black only. Overall though, it was a great show!

  • Marv Quinones

    Krista Rudd, I think your view is a bit skewed. If there is something that is more over-looked than the indigenous peoples, it’s probably blacks in Latin America. My family identifies as Taino. I also have African in my blood. I also have Spaniard and god knows what else. So I hold no bias. And if you look at me, I could pass for almost any of those. It is now borderline trendy to learn about indigenous people. Bands are using them for album concepts, they are part of tourist attractions, and try to find a college around the world that doesn’t have a class that focuses on indigenous people. No try to do the same with Africans in Latin America….Go ahead, I’ll wait. This HAD to be done, and I’m glad that it was. Both indigenous and Africans experienced atrocities, both deserve to be explored. Both are human. There is plenty of stuff on indigenous cultures. Kristen you seem cool, but you should appreciate this just as much.

  • Greg

    Hey Henry,


    Thanks for teaching and promoting the history of Black people not only in America, but their incredible history throughout this planet we all live on.


  • Barr Clay

    Exposure Well Needed… Classic Institutional Racism Alive and Well… Reparation sounds good!

  • Charmel Moore

    Dr. Gates, this is a wonderful eye opening educational series. Please continue to educate all of us about the connectivity of all of our cultures. It is saddening to see how racism has divided and weakened black and latin nations. As an educator myself, I aspire to reach my students with the same depthness that you do with your audience.

    Thank you for this series!

  • Arlene

    Dr. Gates, Thank You for the series on Black in Latin America. I am of Mexican Descent and I know have I have a lot of indigenous ancestry along with European ancestry, but I have always suspected that my family also had African ancestry. I would think during slavery in the US that a lot of the those Slaves escaped into Mexico because Mexico banned Slavery. I would think that the slaves Mixed in with the indigenous people in Northern Mexico which is where my family is from.

  • Cervantes

    After reading some of the comments I came away dispirited by the ignorance and self-hatred demonstrated by some of the Afro-American commentators. Indeed, the charlatan, Lanceindc, has the temerity to reference Van Sertima-whose work has been discredited the world over as pseudo-science in the fields of history, anthropology, and archeology-in order to argue that the brilliance of the native people (Mayas, Aztecs, Olmecs, etc.,) is owed to Africans who came to the western hemisphere before Columbus. One need not be an epidemiologist to know that it is impossible for the native people of this hemisphere to have interacted with any group of people from the old world in any significant way upon understanding that the natives of this continent were unable to sustain the diseases of Europe and Africa. Indeed, it bespeaks to the isolation of these peoples.

    Other commentators appear to be elated by the desire to falsely convince themselves that Hispanic people- at least 93% of whom are either indian, white, or metizo-have black admixture or are in some mysterious way Afro-descendant. So, they dream that this will lead to their ability to claim Latino heritage (or a non-black identity) and to intermarry with hispanics. The former expresses the eternal longing of African Americans of being able to obscure their blackness. They think this is possible because of the erroneous belief that Afro-Latinos (e.g., Sammy Sosa, Saldana) are not perceived as blacks and that they do not self-identify as such. Of course, this is only sensible if one assumes that the vast majority of Hispanics are not black and so Afro-latinos can be made invisible as a result. However, therein lies the paradox and ultimate failure of this thought process. Hispanics are overwhelmingly non-black but it is virtually impossible for a black person in this continent to not be reminded that he/she is black and “other”. The latter provides the only opportunity whereby one can affirm blackness while seeking to destroy it. For while It is shocking for the viewer to see Prof. Gates tell a native american girl that she is a “beautiful Negra” (black), or even ask Professor Cruz, who has not one ostensible african feature, about her feelings on finding out that she was “black”-when we are well aware that “black” in this continent has only to do with physical appearance-it makes perfect sense from the vantage point that it may allow for the destruction of “black” as a concept and concomitantly to the physical obliteration of “black” in reality. In short, the ultimate desire is to be like Prof. Cruz, to have light skin, straight hair, non-african features, but be able to say: “I am black and I am proud”.

  • KevinTheodore

    John your quote,”Black people and Dr. Gates need to take pride in their “kinky” hair that no other people on earth has.”is quickly disproven when you look at indigenous populations in Polynesia,Micronesia,Melanesia,Australia, The Philippines and parts of Southeast Asia. All Dr. Gates is stating is that “The African Genetic Diaspora” , whether it is examined through ancestry or modern culture , is undeniably global, it is just more prominent in some areas of the world, than others. Dr. Gates’ examination of the African influence in Latin America is undeniably part of that diasopora. Also ,undeniably, the African Genetic Diaspora is in Spain. So any attempts to quickly dismiss the genetic impact of the Africa Genome in Latin American by saying “And Brazil-not Spanish America, imported the majority of all the slaves that came to this continent. “denies the African influence from both sides of the ocean as it relates toSpain and Latin America.

    Thank you Dr. Gates for broadening the perspective on the ever touchy subject of Ancestry.

  • Cervantes

    After reading some of the comments I came away dispirited by the ignorance and self-hatred demonstrated by some of the Afro-American commentators. Indeed, the charlatan, Lanceindc, has the temerity to reference Van Sertima–whose work has been discredited the world over as pseudo-science in the fields of history, anthropology, and archeology–in order to argue that the brilliance of the native people (Mayas, Aztecs, Olmecs, etc.,) is owed to Africans who came to the western hemisphere before Columbus. One need not be an epidemiologist to know that it is impossible for the native people of this hemisphere to have interacted with any group of people from the old world in any significant way upon understanding that the natives of this continent were unable to sustain the diseases of Europe and Africa. Indeed, it bespeaks to the isolation of these peoples.

    Other commentators appear to be elated by the desire to falsely convince themselves that Hispanic people–at least 93% of whom are either Indian, White, or Metizo–have black admixture or are in some mysterious way Afro-descendant. So, they dream that this will lead to their ability to claim Latino heritage (or a non-black identity) and to intermarry with hispanics. The former (claiming a non-black identity) expresses the eternal longing of African Americans to be able to obscure their blackness. They think this is possible due to the erroneous belief that Afro-Latinos (e.g., Sammy Sosa, Saldana) are not perceived as blacks and that they do not self-identify as such. Of course, this is only sensible if one assumes that the vast majority of Hispanics are not black and so Afro-latinos can be made invisible as a result. However, therein lies the paradox and ultimate failure of this thought process. Hispanics are overwhelmingly non-black but it is virtually impossible for a black person in this continent to not be reminded that he/she is black and “other”, regardless of the community or group one chooses to identify with. The latter (intermarriage) provides the only opportunity whereby one can affirm blackness while seeking to destroy it. For while It is shocking for the viewer to see Prof. Gates tell a native american girl that she is a “beautiful Negra” (black), or even ask Professor Cruz, who has not one ostensible african feature, about her feelings on finding out that she was “black”–when we are well aware that “black” in this continent has only to do with physical appearance–it makes perfect sense from the vantage point that it may allow for the destruction of “black” as a concept and concomitantly to the physical obliteration of “black” in reality. In short, Dr. Gates and many of the African American commentators ultimate desire is to be like Prof. Cruz, to have light skin, straight hair, non-african features, but be able to say: “I am black and I am proud”.

  • John

    In response to Kevin Theodore

    I am quite befuddled by your decision to heed a part of my comment that is incontrovertible (Black people are the only people that have “kinky” hair). Asians–whether they are Filipino, Polynesian, or whatever– do not have “kinky” hair; unless Africans, as in the case of the Philippines under Spanish rule were transported as slaves. (Please note that those other islands have a handful of people.)

    In this vein, i thought it was highly disrespectful for Prof. Gates to ask a few poor Afro-Brazilians why they straighten their hair. For I think that going after poor people who are trying to survive in this harsh world is craven. Rather, asking Oprah Winfrey why she continues to submit to a grueling and dangerous process of straightening her hair–since she is wealthy, famous, and independent–would provide a better sense of the issue and how to address it. But, of course, keeping good relations with wealthy people is much more important than uncovering the truth or pushing a role model to black women to consider wearing her hair naturally is fraught with too much risk for prof. Gates.

    In any event, the point of my comment was Prof. Gates continual reference to the numbers of enslaved Africans that were shipped to the Caribbean and Latin America as opposed to the U.S.; which I believed served his distorted agenda (that there are many Blacks in “Spanish America”) by obfuscating or directly eschewing the concrete reality of the enslaved people in the Americas. At no point does he addresses in detail the male/female ratio, life expectancy, work conditions, health, disease, slave replacement/slave reproduction, etc. For if one accepts his ad nauseam refrain that only a fraction of the 11 million slaves came to the U.S., then, one will necessarily assume that the rest went to mexico, peru, bolivia, Chile, Argentina, uruguay, Ecuador, Paraguay, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, etc., where the black population in these countries is virtually nonexistent or a very small percentage of the pop. To put this in perspective, consider that the tiny island of Barbados by the early 1800’s had 385,000 slaves. This little island probably imported over 500,000 slaves alone. What’s more, Brazil, which is not a Hispanic country, imported close to 5 million of the 11million. As I previously indicated, by the U.S. Civil war the U.S. had 4 million slaves and Brazil had 1.5 million. Indeed, these Mid 19th century numbers can serve to contextualize the practice of slavery in these respective countries in relation to the adumbrated issues. Hence, Prof. Gates constant reference to these numbers without contextualizing them in specificity only served to justify his insatiable desire to say (to the producers of the program and to his audience) that there are lots of black people in Mexico and Peru (and by extension all of Spanish America) where the black population hovers around 1 to 3 percent. These resources would have been better spent going to jamaica, barbados, etc. Once you add Haiti, Cuba, U.S., Jamaica, lesser antiles etc., a clearer picture of slavery in America begins to emerge. More importantly, you can actually go to this places and find lots of African people; and there will be no need to see a host trying to manipulate a native American girl to concede, against her instincts and the mirror she has to salute every single day, that she is black.

  • Carlos Alfredo Rossas

    This has been a great series and I hope people take time to learn from it. However I also hope that Dr. Gates, in his travels has learned that it’s not that Hispanics deny that there is a third root but that Mestizaje refers to the fact that we are a mix. Therefore we are just as Spanish as we are Amerindian as we are African as we are Moorish. It would be impossible to open a spot on the Mexican census for “Black” because Mestizo already includes that root. Nobody in México is purely African as nobody truly considers themselves purely European. I think that what does need to happen is that people (everyone) in México and Peru be educated on the topic of the third root. Iberian America isn’t like the U.S. where there is American history then separately, there is African American History in the Iberian world they’re the same history but we cannot forget the components, in this case our African heritage just as we cannot forget our Moorish heritage from which we got such important elements such as mariachi and the first step towards mestizaje itself.

  • TJ

    –@ DeWayne; Thanks for pulling out the thesaurus to form your comment, but you should have started with a grade school grammar manual instead. No prepositions in front dude. In your attempt to discredit Dr. Gates’ work with your SAT words you fail to grasp the point. The documentary exposes the fact that there are people of African heritage living and striving in Central and Latin America. These people tend to remain disenfranchised at higher rates than their counterparts of European heritage who live in the same country.

    Gates is giving a voice to those folks who we may not have known existed. He gives a glimpse into their lives and culture & the discrimination they face as well as the love they have for their individual Latin culture. He is speaking of persons of African descent; if you feel the need to extol the accomplishments of the Indigenous culture than do so!! Gates is not a native Spanish speaker so his enunciation may be lacking but does that minute aspect take away from what he is saying, and is “disrespectful” the appropriate term or are you just grasping at straws?

    Lastly, you are disrespectful for denigrating Sub-Saharan African contributions to world society in an attempt to validate Indigenous contributions. Both societies made valid useful timeless contributuions;both hold weight both are invaluable. To know your future you must acknowledge your past. Marinate on it DeWayne.

  • Aruna Parajuli

    Great episode. This episode was really interesting and knowledgeable, i did not know that there were so many African Mexican and African Peruvian in Mexico and Peru respectively. It is really true that one cannot judge a book by it’s content, he/she has to read the book to know the content.

  • Ed

    While in Tlacotalpan, Henry mention that the commodities were by produced by slaves, Indians, and Mestizos. I’m sure he meant blacks, Indians, and Mestizos, since Indians also endured slavery. The Spanish document this well, and it needs no further expounding.

  • Ricardo Avila

    Thanks to PBS and Professor Gates for that fantastic series, and in particular for the Mexico & Peru episode.

    By looking at old pictures I found that my grandfather had very distinctive black facial features.
    I had never tought about that, because obviously it was taboo in my mexican family.
    So it is true: my black grandpa was in the closet!

    It is sad to observe that racism is alive and well, and that a vast majority of the American population know nothing about history and don’t want or care to know, because unbiased knowledge would lead them to accept some inconvenient truths. Again, thank you very much!

  • Vidal Cortez

    I am an American born Mexican of Afro-Mestizo blood…. I’ve read some of the comments that have been left and I am troubled by those of Irish, German and French blood who are bothered by the fact that Mexico was built on the blood sweat and tears of Indigenous and Africans….. The Spaniards found that the Indiigenous population of Mex. were unable to perform the labor needed to extract the silver and gold they (the Spaniards took or robbed from Mex. for the king and queen of Spain)) These people of German, Irish, and French extract need not be offended by the fact that “WE” the true builders of Mejico (When I say the true builders of Mexico nI speak of all who were involved during “COLONIAL MEXICO (beginning 1500’s-1828 when slavery was abolished by Mexico’s president (vicente Guerrero, a Mulatto)…. The Germans, Irish and French came after colonial Mex. in other words they came after all the work had been done…. During colonial Mex. there were 25-30 African slaves to each Spaniard, this scared the king of spain and he decided to slow the importation of African slaves and by the late 1700’s African slave importation had ended however, miscegnation between all those involved in the colonization of Mexico had gone on for v3 centuries, HENCE the smooth blend of the Afro Mestizo….. In other words, (Germans, Irish, French had and have nothing to do with the TRUE MEXICAN which was created during the Colonization. The Germans didn’t arrive until Spain was chased out of Veracruz and other Southern Areas… The Spanish ran to Texas and Colorado (HIDING and knowing The Afro-Mestizos created through micegenation beginning 1535 weren’t interested in the nortern parts of Mexico. While the Spanish were hiding in Texas they invited the Nazis, Irish and any other Europeans that would come. I, being a dark skinned Mexican-American who knows his Great grandfather was an Afro-Mejicano and his Great grandmother was a mestiza (Indigenous/Spanish blood) makes me all 3 bloods HENCE AFRO-MESTIZO…. I don’t share the affection that many of the Afro-Mejicanos have for the Germans that arrived after the fact…. Yes, I’m speaking of that stomach turning affection they have for the Mexicans of German descent that arrived after the fact….. Oh they were here during the Pancho Villas revolution in the North and Emiliano Zapatas in the south… Their affectionate terms of endearment for these Mexicans of German descent include the sickening “HUERITO” I NEVER FORGET THAT EUROPEANS CAME TO MEXICO AND FORCED THEIR GOD>> ONE THING YOU CAN BE SURE OF, THE WHITE EUROPEANS IN MEXICO WITH MEXICAN BIRTH CERTIFICATES MAY SMILE AT YOU AS YOU AFFECTIONATELY CALL THEM “HUERITO” AND COMPA OR PAISA, HAVE NO LOVE FOR YOU! IN THEIR EYES WE ARE STILL BELOW THEM. EUROPEANS CAME LONG AGO AND ROBBED US, THEY BROUGHT THE AFRICANOS AGAINST THEIR WILL>>>>> THEY RAN THINGS DURING COLONIAL MEX. AND IF YOU LOOK AROUND, THEY STILL RUN THINGS!!!! WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU SEEN A PRESIDENT THAT LOOKED LIKE BENITO JUAREZ OR LIKE ANY OF US THAT ARE AFRO_MESTIZO WHICH IS PRETTY MUCH (^% OF MEX> LIKE IT OR NOT!!!! CREA MI PALABRAS. LOS ALEMANES, y ESPANOLES BLANCOS NO TIENEN RESPETO PARA NOSOTROS PRIETOS. EN EL TELE NUNCA VISTE GENTE DE COLOR ( COLOR INCLUYA PIEL MARRON O NEGRO O MECLADO de los dos… USTEDES SABEN QUE LA MAYORIA DE NOSOTROS SOMOS GENTE DE COLOR>> EN OTRA PALABRAS NO SOMOS BLANCOS… CIERTO QUE AY GENTE EN MEJICO QUE SON BLANCA PERO ELLOS VIENEN ORIGINAL DE EUORPA… SI USTEDES QUIEREN CREER QUE USTEDES SON IGUALES QUE LOS BLANCOS, RECUERDA, ELLOS SE COGIERON A NOSOTROS DESDE PRINCIPIO!!!! El CABRON vicent fox ( X – PRESIDENTE DE MEJICO) SU APA ERA UN PINCHE IRISHMAN DE OHIO, U.S.A. ESTE CABRON NO ES MEJICANO COMO USTEDES…. ESTE CABRON SE MIDA MAS QUE 6 PIE Y BLANCO,,,,,,, RECUERDA, SI TU NO QUIERRE ADMITID QUE TU TIENES SANGRE AFRICANA, NUNCA OLVIDA QUE TU NO ERES BLANCO Y LOS BLANCOS DE EUROPA LE GUSTA ROBAR TODO QUE NO ES DELLOS INCLUYENDO TU ALMA>>>

  • Ana Mallen

    “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…” I am a mexican-american who never pondered the possibility of African origin. After watching the documentary, I grabbed my family albums and realized those varying deep shades of brown could only be attributed to an African ancestry. I’ve always been a mestiza, now I know I am also a mulata. Gracias!

  • Jersey City Texan

    I am pleased to see ALL of the comments, as you can see the are representative of the attitudes alive in the Americas today. I was not shocked to see the comments describing the narrator as Afrocentric, nor the anger directed at past wrong doings. It’s natural. If prof.Gates had not mentioned the fact that these people are of African ancestry the documentary really wouldn’t had revealed the historical significance outlined. I don’t see it has he being Afrocentric, I see it as he reporting factual information. That is why it is entitled “Black Grandma in the closet.” I am what some call Afro Mestizo…and consider myself Black. However my first title and the one I would like the rest of us to bestow upon ourselves is HUMAN BEING. And as human beings we are subject to our prejudices, dislikes and shame. History however is just that history, and we can be proud that we are all sharing in this.

  • Jane

    In response to Aruna Parajuli :

    I laughed hysterically after reading your comment regarding the Mexico & Peru episode: “. . . I did not know that there were so many African Mexican and African Peruvian in Mexico and Peru respectively.” Interestingly, this type of comment seems to dominate the responses to the program by the African American audience. However, as a non-african person I was waiting to see a Afro-Mexican for the first time in my life; instead what Mr. Gates deliver was an afro-caribbean transplant in Mexico. In short, Mr. Gates was unable to find one Afro-Mexican in all of mexico.

    Please note that everyone on earth knows that the African population in Spanish America (Brazil is not part of SPANISH AMERICA) is quite small indeed- less than 5%. Thus, it is truly disheartening to read many of these comments expressing pride and referencing some mystical or magical experience that Mr. Gates provided them. Again, it clearly reflects the self-hatred that is endemic in the African American population. If you guys really “love” black people, everything to do with Africa, please go to the horn of Africa where you will find many many people (actually all the people) who are black, African and proud and are starving to death. For months now many humanitarian organizations have been trying to avert a catastrophe in that part of Africa to no avail. Indeed, instead feeling pride and grateful to Mr. gates for telling you that there are a few black people in Spanish America, demonstrate your pride and love for Black people (African People) by helping the millions upon millions of Black people that are starving in the continent of Africa. Please show your love and help that god forsaken continent. Alternatively, you can do something for the poorest country on this continent– Haiti. Remember, if the conditions of Africa and haiti improve, so will the image of black people. Bear in mind that Hispanic people are almost entirely Mestizo, White, and Native American, and we are well aware that the black population is very small. Take the Dominican Republic and Cuba, the black population of these two countries is equivalent to the pop. of one state of the country Mexico. And while these two countries may have a large percentage of black people, the populations of the countries themselves are small. Additionally, the majority of the population of the Dominican Republic are recent immigrants from Haiti and the Afro-caribbean islands. Most of these people began to immigrate to the D.R. in the early 1900. Indeed, the population of the D.R. in 1890 was between 100,000 to 200,000. Less than 100 years later is has over 10 million people. Of course, in less than 100 years from now they will turn the D.R. into Haiti.

  • Stephanie Hughes

    As a genealogist, I would like to say thank you, Professor Gates. This past year, with the release of many online records from the Mormon Family History Centers, I have been able to go back almost six generations on some of my family lines. While most of these lines center around Chihuahua, Camargo, and and even San Luis Potosi, I was completely blown away to find baptism records from the 1770’s and 1780’s from the Durango area.

    My g-g-g-g-g grandfather, born 4 Oct 1777, was listed as “Lobos” or “wolf boy” in his baptismal certificate. In other words, a person with 3/4 Indian & 1/4 African ancestry. In other words, an Indian with one black grandparent.

    If I had not watched this program BEFORE finding this out, I would have thought—”oooookay. Hhmmm, that’s interesting. Wasn’t expecting that.” But now, I say, “WOW! Look at this! Isn’t it amazing!!”

    Thank you for informing me and educating me. My appreciation knows no bounds.

  • Mike Davis

    Professor, I wish to speak with you regarding the incident at your home. As a Black Professional (Electrician) in America, I’ve had my share, but I’ve emerged from each situation more bitter than the last. I need to know how you can cope, and not let these injustices dominate your thoughts and actions. I need to get out of the place I’m in right now, I feel so victimized, so powerless. I don’t want and shouldn’t have to live in a country that treats its citizens that way. Marcus Garvey was onto something…

  • SAH

    I am a proud Afro-Mexican woman born in the United States. I want to thank Mr. Gates for helping to bring Mexico’s so called “Third Root” to light. It saddens me that my own people don’t recognize or acknowledge the heritage and influence of Africa to Mexico. I have to disagree with Mr. Aranda, I do not nor do I think any other Afro-Mexican should identify simply as indio; it is almost as if Mr. Aranda and people like him want us to deny our African roots. I am willing to bet that Mr. Aranda himself may be of African heritage. I am who I am and I think it makes me a very unique person, especially in the United States.

  • A. Santana

    I would like to reply to Jane, who sounds like the same deeply seated racist that burned women and children in the “Tulsa Riots” of Oklahoma. I am a Cuban american who has dominant African features. I doubt this person has ever been to visit a Latin country other that to exploit their economy, like others of that ilk on cruises. It is frightening to hear such blatant hatred in this supposed advanced society. I cringe to think of ever encountering someone so ignorant. The reason the continent is in that condition, is because her ancestors pillaged, raped and murdered millions of natives there. In addition when they finally left, they burdened the population for years to come, with a debt for what they say were future earnings they were denied?go figure. I suggest she view the History channel documentary of the Negroes, yes Negroes in Australia that were indigenous and how 500, 000 were slaughtered because the transplanted whites refused to allow them to practice their culture. I for one am glad such a series was produced it gives me a connection to the other part of my culture. Thanks, Professor Gates.

  • Raquel

    My grandmother died in July. Looking through her records, I learned that she was Mexican, but never told anyone. I thought it was an error. Someone recommended this documentary to me and now I know that it’s true…I am of Mexican descent. I can’t fathom why grandma would hide this…I guess I had “the Mexican grandmother in the closet.” Nonetheless, I am thankful for this series.

  • AfroMii

    @Jane..In response to Aruna Parajuli:


  • AfroMii

    @ jane – i laugh at u! ur the one that is neither black or his panic/latino but on this website!! ur grandma in the closete AINT BLACK so dont worry the f about it! whites are the true MINORITY Worldwide. Without us black 100 PERCENT MELANINATED PEOPLES, There would be no HUMAN RACE. Were the omega, get out of here puh lease! sucia!

  • KJ

    Drawing some light on Afro-Mexicans and Afro-Peruvians is certainly LONG overdue, and some serious insight is a welcome addition to the social sciences of Latin American. But I have to ask, where are the Afro-Colombians? the Panamanians? Let’s not stop here!

  • Eli

    Well as a Black Latina this does not surprise me I know how my felow light skin Mexican, Peru, Argentina, Puerto Rican, Chile, Colombian, look down in the dark Latinos knowing or ingnoring that my color is deep withing them. I can not hate because I also have white European and Asian blood but at times it is so hard to understand their stupid actitud. Nevertheless I have so many friends from all groups that I love dearly I do not care what anybody think anymore.

  • Amina

    As an African with no history of slavery in my lineage and descended from the Fulani tribe, a berber-African group who were the Islamic conquerors and rulers in Northern Nigeria, I find it interesting how Gates and other African Americans have made slavery the cornerstone, centre piece and genesis of their existence, as if there was no life for blacks before and during slavery.

    Ironically, as with the Eurocentric dominance of history, there threatens to be an African-American dominance in telling the story of black people.

    Also, AAs so identify with their own experience of being black in a white man’s world that it colours the way they see other African descendants in other countries, leading to incorrect and even harmful views. I would say that being ‘Black’ is a uniquely African-American identity; I am African, Fulani, Nigerian, just as a Brazilian, Mexican, Jamaican, Trinidadian, Ghanaian also identifies with their nationality or heritage- Black is a social construct unique to AAs but Gates seems to want to foist that upon the latinos he meets.

    The negative effects of being displaced and forced to deny or subdue their original culture in an alien society has a negative impact on many AAs in ways non-displaced Africans cannot identify with. Of course the colonial experience in Africa also had negative impact on Africans, but being able to trace our origins and express our culture, heritage and customs on our own continent and remaining racially ‘pure’ in the land of our ancestors makes the experiences between descendants of African slaves and Africans different.

    I think this, being black in Africa, as opposed to blackness as defined by slavery is not explored enough.

  • Gus Perfecto

    This has been the gratest domumentary film and brought to light in a very long time. I look forward to your future projects

  • santos AfroMexicano

    Jane how many Spaniards or White west Europeans arrived in Latin America? Did the so-called white European race and the red people of Spain reach the natural reproduction rate needed to sustain an imperial colony in Latin America? Your response is very harsh and hateful, you should understand that African, Mexican, Native, and Asian history is so important to the world is because some Europeans and Euro-Americans have placed an emphasis on skin color. Equating whiteness with intellect, money, beauty, and all that is holy. Understand that the world as we know it is a summation of all of mankind’s contribution. If you agree that Homo sapiens share 94.6% of DNA, and the reaming portion is allocated to phenotype, than you should deduce that all mankind is related. Africans provided DNA to all people, Natives gave us Unity of purpose, Asians mechanics, whites gave us exploration, if you think of the world in these terms, you might learn to appreciate this documentary, and you cannot take your white skin to the grave.

  • MMK

    I’m astonished at some of the history that I did not know about. I had no idea that Mexicans had this African heritage that is rarely talked about. I think it’s great that someone is bring this issue to light.

  • William

    It’s astonishing to realize that we were raised upon an african american descent. Not only that , but how a different diversity of ethnic groups meshed together to make a different race. What is so ashtonishing about this situation is that it was brought up to our attention in the 21 century and it was never mentioned. Many don’t realize that they carry african american ancestry, and maybe some deny that they are coming from an african american descent since half of this fucking world is racist! Thanks to Professor Gates, we have now come to a conclusion that some of us are actually something more than what we thought we were.

  • Amairany

    I think this video is interesting because it going to explain how the African came to our countries, in this case is Mexico. I never heard that people from Africa where in parts of Mexico. In my opinion the video explains how the Africans came to parts of Mexico, one thing is that Africans travel like 2 months to go to Veracruz,Mexico. Most Africans live in the Pacific Coast. I know that people from some of the towns have ancentors that were blacks. A lot of people are discriminated by the color of their skin, that in some parts of Mexico doesn’t exists. We can see that more of the poeple who are black live in little towns and they are called in different ways. I dont have problems about what people say about it but like everyone have a different ancestors and different cultures.

  • Bryant contreras

    Wow i would never believe that black actually lived in Mexico and the genes of Mexican have at least some black in them. That is some worldwide hit new to me because seriously thought that everyone that lived in Mexico was only Mexicans. Thanks for professor gates clearing up all the mess up minds of what Mexico races is really about and, for taking he’s time for he has made someone learned that Mexico past.

  • I-Lean

    I thank Professor Gates for bringing up and exploring this topic. I, as many others, did not know that many Mexicans descended from Africans or that a lot more African slaves went to Mexico than to the United States. I thank Gates because he is bringing up a history that is not hidden, but it has somewhat been forgotten and disregarded by many. It’s really interesting to know that Mexico had advanced faster in a political and race sense from the U.S. yet it somehow managed to fall to one of the lowest in the world. I am proud to know that race was not such a big issue back then and Mexicans made it work, but it’s sad to see that Mexico has back tracked. Denying a part of who you are is in itself racist and it seems like Mexico is going backwards instead of forward.

  • MC

    While watching this video I learned a lot of interesting things that I did not know about my history. For example, I had no idea that Mexicans came from an African root. I thought that we were each from separate roots. This video is also a great example that shows how different cultures learn to adapt to one another’s customs and ideas. I think that this mixture of cultures limited discrimination in a way, compared to others at that time. I believe that this video helped me understand my history which then helps me to better understand myself and my ancestors. All I can say is that this is a great video to watch if you have little to no experience in Latin American and Black history.

  • Alizia

    I have to agree with Ana Mallen. I had never thought about having African roots in Mexican Culture.No wonder why this documentary is called the black grandma in the closet. Mexicans will not accept easily that there is some African roots in their culture because by doing so they will have to admit that they have African ascendance.
    I consider that Mexican Society should recognize their African heritage, for by doing so they will make their culture richer.

  • Epi

    My first reaction to this film was “wow, really?!” I had absolutely no idea that Mexico had black history. The idea is really mind-boggling, since history classes in school never taught me about this. I am astonished that it is not taught in history classes, since Mexican-American kids like me believe that we are only a blend of indigenous and Spanish blood. I should have known however. For instance, my dad’s side of the family all has wide, open noses. As I got older I thought that was a little strange since I didn’t see many Aztecs or Mayans with that kind of nose. Spaniards obviously also had pointy, closed noses. Now I can see the nose may have come from African descent. Overall I think it is amazing that Mexico has this history and that the people are so diverse. I am so glad that Professor Gates is out trying to find this precious lost history, so that everyone is aware of it.

  • Evelyn

    First of all i want to thank professor Gates for this amazing episode it was so interesting. Know i’m able to understand more of where i came from and why i’m dark in a way when I didn’t know i can have African descend in me. I didn’t though that there would be African American descend in Mexico and that there would be towns that a lot of African American descend still lives. It was very amazing to get to learn some of there history in Mexico and how there life’s where.

  • Michael

    I was very surprised to find out this till now. Never in my mind did I ever think Mexicans could have African Heritage. This video gives everyone a better understanding of their background on their heritage. There are some great points that people have given. In my opinion, I think that a Afro- Mexican person should be very proud of who they are. Of course everyone is unique in their own way so theres no need to judge anybody. Mr. Gates did a good thing looking into this and showing people what they didn’t even know.

  • Mara171

    This is for Tms I know its hard to understand that your family didn’t tell you or they just did’t know. I asked my parents if they new that their where Africans in mexico and they didn’t even know. They grew up in mexico and went to school (not that much but they went for a time) they didn’t even recall this information. Your family may have lost this part of their history when its not pasted down from generation to generation. Its just like when median families don’t show there kids spanish then its lost from there and on. I found this interesting too. History classes should show more of this stuff which is more interesting. I glad that Africans shaped part of mex. too it shows that no one can go without help in the world. So how all cultures have to come together at some point.

  • peke

    To Nyanga 110/Afro Mestizo de Mex,
    I totally agree with you on the part where you say that the Germans went and Hid in Mexico after the crime they committed. I think that thanks to the mixture of the Germans in Mexico is now the cause of racism. Its sad to now see racism between your own people and your own kind. Like the same way it happens here in the U.S. it also happens in Latin America the way that the video showed. Still today people discriminate dark skin people, when the only truth is that every single person in Mexico has an ancestor that could have been black. It is a shame to still see this type of behavior between us people when we are all equal, we do not have more or less of characteristic than any other human being in this world that is why we are called humans because everyone is HUMAN! Money or education does not make any person in this whole universe more of a human than others. Why? because the simple fact that we are all Human!

  • Manny

    It looked like there wasn’t many black people in Mexico, In Peru Theres a good portion, There use to be a lot but cuz of mixing the mullato population grew but still look kinda black.

  • Valeria

    I am amuzed of what I have leared about my culture. It was very ineresting finding out Mexicans have African desendents. I am extreamly proud of Profesor Gates who is putting the word out there for us mestisos. Great research he has done bringing blacks in the American Latino culture.


    I liked the video. I did not know, Mexicans have heritage from the Africans. I am surprised because this makes me wondering who my ancestors were. And where do I come from? I feel so proud that we the Mexicans are a mixture of races, and I think that makes our culture richer; because the diversity and mixture of cultures create the Mexican culture. I am thankful for Professor Gates’ exploration. This is the part of the history that most of the Mexicans do not know. But now we can understand more our culture and the way that we look. I had not paid attention in Vicente Guerrero the second president in Mexico, he had black background, is it not awesome? We had an afro-Mexican president. I am just speechless, because I studied in Mexico for 11 years and the teachers never told us about this.

  • Carlos Escamilla

    the documentary is very educative and interesting, one thing that surprise me was the fact that the first free town of the Americas is the town of Yanga name after the african slave who make this possible Gaspar Yang. On the other hand i found that Jose Maria de Pavon, an Afro Mestizo, a priest and a general who aided Vicente Guerrero also an Afro Mestizo free Mexico of the Spanish crown and to be honest is something that i as a Mexican didn’t know and is something that doesn’t comes in our history books. Dr. Gates make this documentary something you mush watch and make you realize of the strong African roots in Mexico and Peru. In conclusion, this video make me realize that we as Mexicans we have a strong African influence and we must be proud of this, because every family not only in Mexico but also in Peru have the black grandma in the closet.

  • jdp

    I found this to be very interesting. Who knew that some Mexicans have african blood in them. I liked how Professer Gates did such a great job with his research on the subject. Thanks to this documentary I’m going to try to do research about my ancestors to see if I have African blood in me.

  • Bea K.

    Despite the negative and lame comments presented by those who’d love to forget or even hide the fact that they have even one trace of ‘black’ in their bloodline, I praise the Lord that Mr. Gates decided to take on this issue and pray that he finds the time to go even further with it.

    It shames me to no end to see the way that black latinas/os are treated by ‘their own’ (yep, just like blacks from other areas and nations “around the world”), which we should ALL be seriously ashamed of but as we continue to see, I guess most folks could really care less. If I read one more article about black latinos only making up 1 or 2 percent of all latino communties, I think I’ll throw up all over the place because ‘black’ comes in several shades, but it seems those who are of the “darker” variety are just about invisible next to their almost white counterparts.

    Networks such as Telemundo, Univsion, Telefutura, Televisa, etc. are responsible as well for this despictable crap as well. They refuse to present even one negra latina/o in a lead role in even one novela or drama, even though they have talented actresses such as: Indhira (Indira) Serrano, Muriel Ricard (formely Fouilland), Evelyn Jimenez, new comer Yorayda Meija and others who are barely (besides Indhira) given the chance to prove what they can do as actresses. The negro latino men don’t fare that much better as lead actors (Walter Diaz the only black latino actor to be given a ‘lead role’ but who has not acted in quite a while). How about the fact that not one black latina/o actor has ever won a ‘TVyNovela’ award, even though actress Carmen Marina Torres has been acting for over “25 years???

    I say MORE of these shows need to be presented, on the spanish language networks as well, if for nothing but a ‘wake up call’ in the hope that things will start to change in a positive way, if for no one else but those negra latinos who are affected the most by what’s going on here, and hopefully to put an end to the shame that they’ve carried for all of these years because of it.

  • Ana

    It was amusing learning that some Mexicans have some African American in them. I haven’t researched about my own family but when Dr. Gates talks about there being one dark skinned person in every Mexican family, I was shocked to think that it would be me because I am the darkest one in my family. I will absolutely be researching more about that. All in all the video was great, really interesting to learn about our heritage.

  • Marcella Alohalani Boido, M. A.

    This is a wonderful video. I am very grateful to Prof. Gates for his work on this subject.

    Let me add a few notes. Simon Bolivar was part African, and early portraits of him show this. See the portrait by Jose Gil de Castro at the Wikipedia entry. Over time, portraitists made him look more European.

    “La Negra” is the oldest song in the Mariachi tradition.

    Many songs from parts of Latin America where there are people of African descent make positive and admiring mention of the color of the loved one: negra (black), morena (brown), etc., and these words are often part of the title of the song. Here is “La Morena”: This is a song in the Veracruzan tradition, which is called “Son Jarocho.”

    Or look for the Cuban son, “La Negra Tomasa.”

    Musicians may also have nicknames that refer to their race or color. “La Negra Graciana” is one of the leading singers and harp players in the Son Jarocho tradition.

    In some places, “mi negra” and “mi negro” are terms of affection.

    The musical traditions that were created by Africans and their descendants use musical instruments that are African or African-derived. The video shows two of these: the quijada (made from a donkey’s jawbone) and the cajon (wooden box drum). Other African instruments include the guiro (originally made from a gourd), maracas, and clave.

    Here is an example of a musician playing the quijada.


    The African influence in music is found also in the tradition of improvisation of both lyrics and music, which are characteristic of Son Jarocho and various Colombian folk traditions such as Vallenato and Musica Llanera (also found in Venezuela). Just look for YouTube videos using these words, and you will immediately see part-African or black musicians (and they’re having a great time, too!).

    There are traditions in which poet/singers improvise dueling verses. These are called “decmas” or “controversias.” Most of the performers who do this are of African origin.

    Here you can see that the musicians also feel free to improvise and change their own musical instruments.

    Famous Cuban musicians such as Compay Segundo and Eliades Ochoa also modified their guitars to taste.

    Although using musical instruments of European origin, the way in which they are played is very different. Son Jarocho and Musica Llanera are good examples of this: the music created by the harpist is very different from European traditions. Virtually all of the harpists are of African origin.

    Clave is crucial to Puerto Rican music.

    It was also the signature instrument of the late Alvaro José Arroyo, who died July 26, 2011. “El Joé,” as he is called, is considered the greatest salsa singer to come from Colombia. Just look for videos of him singing, and you will see this part-African descendant of Palenqueros (slaves who escaped to freedom) playing the clave. He revived some of the African-influenced folk songs of the region. He also used “Palenque,” which is a mix of Spanish, Portuguese, and Bantu, in the lyrics of his own compositions.

    His composition, La Rebelion, recreates a mythical slave uprising. It became an extremely popular song, with its refrain of “Don’t hit the black woman.” This video was filmed in the fort in Cartagena..

    There were “palenques” (villages of escaped slaves) in Colombia and Venezuela. The Palenqueros mixed with the Indigenous population.

    There is a town called “Palenque” just 30 miles outside of Cartagena, Colombia. The difficult terrain of Colombia and Venezuela made it possible for slaves to escape to freedom and found their own communities.

    There is a movie called “The Wind Journeys” in English (which is a fictional retelling of the origins of Vallenato music in Colombia. It shows the African influence in drumming. (”Los Viajes del Viento”)

    The African influence in Latin America is very much alive today, especially in music. I could say a good deal more, but I hope these notes will help others enjoy these traditions.

  • Marcella Alohalani Boido, M. A.

    On “El Joé,” a telenovela by RCN, a large number of the actors are black. This is in part because the series is loosely (very loosely) based on the life of Colombian salsa singer and composer Alvaro José Arroyo Gonzalez, who just died on July 26, 2011. “El Joé,” as he was called, was a mix of African, European, and Indigenous peoples.

    Since most of the actors portray real people with whom many Colombians are familiar, and many of those real people are black, therefore, the actors are black, too. Jair Romero, who plays El Joé, is actually darker than El Joé was. Jeimmy Paola Vargas, who plays El Joé’s first wife, Adela Martelo, is also darker than the real Adela.

    El Joé and his family and friends and fellow musicians, most of whom are black, are the center of the story. The acting is of very high quality, and so is the singing and dancing.

    Mauro Castillo plays the role of Wilson “Saoko” Mayoma, another famous black salsa singer who was a close friend of El Joé, and from the credits, I see that Castillo is doing a lot of his own singing. He is excellent.

    Walter Díaz, who plays “Piper Pimienta” Diaz, another black salsa singer and dancer, is also outstanding.

    It is fascinating to see a series with so many black actors, and to see a storyline in which the story is about the people themselves, who are real and not symbols. They carry on with their lives and careers in the world in which they find themselves, which includes racial discrimination, but which also includes many other things. The series is about El Joé and his life and music, and not about white people and their concerns. It is not about making whites feel better about themselves.

    I recommend it highly.

    This is not intended to discredit or rebut the comments made above.

  • Bev. R

    I loved everything that Dr. Gates has presented. It’s a shame before God that latino/Hispanic people are ashamed of their heritage. Wake up people it is what it is. You can not hide from those of us who are your people, whether your are African Latino/Hispanic or African/Itianian, or African/Irish or whatever, trust me we know who you are. Stop hiding from yourself. Be proud.

  • Daniela

    I liked the series a lot. The only thing I don’t feel quite right is that sometimes the people has to choose between be a moreno or indigena, and the true is, we are a mix, we are mestizos, we wouldn’t have to choose, we have to be proud of be an African and indigena. Latinamerica has to be proud of both things. I would like to invite you to Ecuador, Ecuador has a entire province “Esmeraldas” with very strong African descendent people. I think could be very interesting for you, professor,

  • Nicolas Q. replies to Nyanga 110/Afro Mestizo de Mex.

    1st off the indigenous population in Chile has not been decimated, it is one of the largest indigenous populations in all of the americas. so your comment isnt based on any factual bases.
    finaly the majority of german(natzi war criminals) hid in argentina, since they had a sympathie from the then president Eva Peron.
    in conclusion read a book, and become serious about your quest for knowledge otherwise do not even mention a country’s history.

  • Power Allah

    The Original Man is everywhere and touches all

    It is cool to see His manifestations around the world

    We have ended up believing that we are all different…

    But no. God, Allah, Black Man, Sun; whatever title you assume, you are of a people that are stronger than time and space

    Recognize your brothers and your sisters, embrace them, lift them up, each one teach one

    Only then can We see to the task of restoring Our empires in peace

    Thank You Dr. Gates, for enlightening people

  • Jane

    The takeaway from the comments that have been posted is the widely known uncontestable fact– that is, Blacks suffer from a virulent form of inferiority complex. Indeed, the commentators have little, if any, concern or interests in Africa or in Black people, the sole reason for their pride and joy regarding this documentary is their purported claim to a connection with Hispanic people. Since upwards of 90% of the Hispanic population in this hemisphere–again, Brazil in not part of Hispanic America–is Mestizo (White/Native), White, and Native American, the black commentators are salivating at the mouth, with a bursting insatiable longing to identify Hispanics. They dream for the day when they do not have to be Black, African, Negro, anything but that. So, this documentary gives them that opportunity. Indeed, supposedly proud Black males from Dr. Dre to Dr. Gates eschewed marrying or fathering children with a black or African princess. Why??? These are individuals whose middle-class lifestyles hinges on black pride, and they would rather marry poor, fat, or ugly white women over the black princesses. If this documentary was about helping the Haitian people, or the people on the continent of Africa, that is, black people, I doubt there would be a handful of comments, if that many. (It is truly sad that in 2011 you still hate yourself and have the audacity to come on this board to claim the Hispanics are self-hating, etc., look yourself in the mirror, it is you that are self-hating, only you are outwardly directing to an innocent bystander what resides in you, what is limiting you, preventing you from actualizing who you truly are. Be proud of your hair, nose, and lips, they are unique and yours. The vast majority of Hispanics do not look like you, why would you want to say that they do???)

  • Jan

    I always know blacks were in Mexico I would meet some of them and can see the black. We blacks usually know who has black in them. So I wasn’t shocked at all but not suprised there hide the story of brave amazing blacks who faught for freedom. I tell my mixed race son everything great and amazing blacks have down and I also tell his father who had no idea. My son will always be proud of his black and white roots or anything else that comes up.

    Krista Rudd and Jane and others you are so racist period towards blacks. People all over the world know native Indians whatever there might want to be called live in latin America it is a known fact. Not many people know blacks still do or made amazing achievments in all areas of Latin America. The funny thing as a Haitian you have no idea why Haiti is the way it is. Let me tell you because of racist Euro-centric ideas that put us blacks down. By putting laws in affect that Haiti could not achieved anything without the whites and there have come to destroy us. If you guys hate blacks so much then stop eating African food or stop listening to music and stop dancing the samba,ramba ect it is all Africa. Instead do European and Indian things because we blacks do not want people taking our cultures and pretending blacks had nothing to do with it and being racist towards us.

  • Martha

    Antes de criticar al negro mama, deberian ver el episodio completo. El luce tonto, pero no lo es, es un negro muy listo y gracioso, por eso el programa es muy visto. La organizacion LUNDU, exagera, todo para ellos es racismo.

  • samuel


  • Paul

    PBS actually let this series through to us Canadians that actually financially support the border PBS stations….Most of the other online PBS stuff they just block straight out.

    I’m not a big fan of the Prof/ presenter, but it was good information. There are better black presenters.

    I’m the english Caribbean, and I’m most aware of the black population in Brazil, which most people know about. I also know how racist white, or people who call themselves Spanish are or can be, or the ones that think they are WHITE. Argentinians, especially and Colombians are the worst …they make me want to run.
    You can tell alot about a country, by looking at the middle class and the ruling class….who have the biggest houses and have control the middle class businesses, or any business for that matter.

    After 911 it seems there seems to be some more openess, search from productions like these from PBS and BBC to the actual contributions to history that Whites and Western history seemed to try and bury. From the contributions of Indians, Arabs/ Muslims and Chinese to western thought and society, and now to Africans americans in the new world.

  • riley

    Professor made a point in that some small parts of the Gulf of Mexico had black slaves. In that some of the blacks mixed with the Indians. Most of Mexico does not carry the black dna.The Spanish being very race conscience passed these views to them. As time goes by there will be no trace that blacks were ever in Mexico. Mexico has open up to everyone from all over the world. There are more blacks in the USA than in Mexico. Many blacks that came as slaves died as slaves and were worked to death and were kept away from women not like in the US. That is why Mexico don’t have cities like Detroit, wash.D.C.,etc.with large black population. Reason also is that slavery lasted longer in the US than in Mexico. Also Mexico accepts that Afro Mexicans are Mexicans and nothing more. It is a collective thing that everyone puts the country first. There is more discrimination between rich and poor than race.

  • Minta Blinks

    Fidel Castro may not be a hero for western countries but he did a good job in providing subsidized medical care in Cuba-`”

  • Devon Myers

    The video displays that Mexico and Peru that their are many Afro-Mexicans and Afro-Peruvians, however their were only pockets of black slaves during this time and they would mix in with the indian population that thinned out the black features. Although blacks in both countires are visible, Mexico and Peru government emphasizes their nationality comes before their skin color. However, their has been significant elements of African culturue heritage in Mexican and Peruvian music, food, and dancing. I do believe rascism still exist partially in both Mexico and Peru, seeing that during their times of becoming a country they are trying to hide Afro-Latins achievements and contributations in history books and through word of mouth. This video was certiantly informational and I learned things that I never knew existed in Mexico and Peru.

  • Alpha Whisner

    May one be so crass as to ask for author Fraser’s cultural/religious background? His article smacks of bias and of an attempt to belittle Muslims as a people. As a previous comment noted, it is unfair to judge Muslims’ contributions to mankind on the basis of only 110 years of history and on criteria established by the West. And one is compelled to ask: What is Mr. Fraser’s point? I think I know what it is, but I’d rather hear it from him.

  • Theron Pevey

    To David, the Muslims have inferiority complex? I think it’s really shameful and racist (even though Islam is not a race) to say that comment.To JP, the Jews did not have a state until 1947. So the Jews who earned the prize were actually citizens of the Western imperialistic countries which occupied the Muslim countries and consumed their resources, and they had every reason to excel in all fields of human knowledge, in the absence of occupation. I think if the Muslim world had had 1% of the support that the Western countries gave to Israel (e.g. building them a nuclear reactor, like what the French did by building the Israeli’s reactor, or giving an access to the latest military technologies as the Americans did), the Muslim world would have achieved a good number of Nobel prizes by now. Unfortunately, all what the Muslim world received from the West was destruction (Iraq), terror and oppression (by the French in Algeria and the Italians in Lybia), land mines (Egypt), sectarian tensions (India and Pakistan), and sometimes dictators.

  • Mimi McD

    I wrote a paper on Mexico’s Third Root in graduate school for a Mexican history class. The professor knew nothing about my topic until I presented it.

  • charles

    Thank you Professor Gates for a great documentary. I have watched your documentatary on Africa and now Blacks in Latin America. There are those that say that blacks should forget about race and concentrate on economic empowerment. While this may be true, it so happens that economic empowerment is concentrated in the hands of the europeans descendents. Black culture and history is marginialized. Poverty and the black race goes hand in hand in the americas. Blacks have to unite as a race to fight poverty and press for economic opportunities that are denied them. Even here in the USA, educated blacks are discriminated against for jobs and economic advancement. There are numerous reports of discrimination gainst blacks in employment and upward migration. Blacks have to first identify themselves, feel confident about themselves, and fight for economic empowerment.

  • Rita Brown

    After several months of my niece telling me about this documentary, today, I finally saw it. And I was in awe!! I could not keep my mouth closed. After seeing all four parts I feel so proud. This DVD should be shown in schools especially to the teens who are walking around with guns and selling drugs to our kids. They need to see from whence they came. I am partly mixed, as well, my father’s side is Latin American and my mother’s side is from the West Indies. During the Middle Passage when the Black slaves were brought over they were literally dropped everywhere. From Latin America, Caribbean Islands, North and South America and I am curious about India. I’ve always been curious to know why are their skins Black?? Maybe, Louis Gates can continue with his research about India. Job well done!!!

  • Luz

    Thank you so much for shedding light on blacks in Latin America, and the Latin heritage in general. I learned a great deal and hope this information will always be accessible for all to view online.

    As a Mexican American, I don’t see the Indian, African, European, Asian aspects as something to shun but as a beautiful, symbolic rainbow of our ‘Mestizoness’. Please don’t ever let these broadcasts fall to the way side as more people need to hear these stories that you’ve gathered together.

  • Charles Hawkins

    When I heard about the documentary, I was very interested to see it. After watching it, I was blown away! I have told many of friends about the documentary and they are very interested to see it also. I’m an assistant principal at a high school in Texas were our Hispanic population is approximately 65%. As an African-American administrator in a school, I think it would be very beneficial to my Hispanic and African-American students to see that they are more closley related then they know. Maybe it would stop alot of the racial tension between the two races. For that reason, I’m buying the DVD to possible show to the students on my campus. Dr. Gates, thanks for a great documentary.

  • Dania

    Thank you, Dr. Gates, for a great documentary. I’ve been using it in my Afrolatinos course and it gives a great introduction to the complexities of race in Latin America, so different from US. Thank you for this amazing work.

  • dre12345

    Gates is well respected and as an Afro-Cuban living in america i appreciate the light you have shed upon afro-Latinos . however you did so in an ethnocentric way which should have been dismissed . the whole comparison of mexico to america was very ethnocentric. However very well done besides the use of ethnocentric techniques .

  • angel rodriguez

    thank you very much dr.gates, being of puerto rican decent im always fasinated about mixed cultural people.i was wondering if you ever have done a black in puerto rico.if not would you be willing. thank you and again looking forward to seeing more of you on pbs.

  • pete

    This documentary was amazing. it is going to be very hard for Mexicans to except something so true. When you turn on the tv to watch a Mexican tv show, all you see is European looking people. We all know that most Mexicans native descent or not are not white, that’s a fact.

  • Mark Tingle

    Thank you, Dr. Gates, Blacks in Latin America has opened my eyes to see how interconnected we really are.Should be a requirement for all Middle and High School sutdents to whatch.Thank you .

  • bryan

    What about Pio Pico?


    BUDDY! You’ve informed us all of what is unknown to the majority of white America. I thank you for your wonderful insight on Blacks in Latin America, however you’re approach was completely biased. I award you no points, and may god have mercy on your soul..

  • Pretty Cute Teen

    Yo,this guy really knows his stuff! I admire the work he put into this documentary, and this is a great example of how hard work pays off. He did a great job of informing the majority of the American Public of the “Blacks in Latin America”. TWO THUMBS UP!
    -Pretty Cute Teen

  • Jose Pic

    The photo that appears at 34:21 is a photo of Cuzco and not of Lima.

  • Dieudonne Roberts

    Excellent video Dr. Gates but you left out the Louisiana Creole influence on Vera Cruz.. There was a huge migration of Louisiana Creoles there hence the architecture resembles much of Lafayette, Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Also there is a family there in Vera Cruz named Probo, whose family in Louisiana is the Provost family, they are Louisiana Creoles (French). My family being Creole (My Louisiana French dialect is African, French and Spanish) found that we have ties to Venezuela….after that, I found out about the Probo family. Look up Louisiana history and culture, Creoles/Negre Cajun had a huge migration to mexico.

  • Jose Picamarmol

    Excellent documentary. Note: The street scene that appears at 34:21 is a photo of Cuzco and not of Lima.

  • Pitbull

    Very informative, and touched off on a subject that is noticed but never fully embraced in the Mexican community, Countless times i’ve run into my Mexican brethren and noticed a darker shade of brown than your typical brown skinned color,

    I was also never aware of Yanga, but now that I am he is up there with one of my own personal human beings I will look up too, very brave man who deserves soo much recognition, its a shame because more African American can benefit, from knowing of such a remarkable brave man who bowed down to no one, and this was Hundred of years, before the Underground railroad,


    It is true that Mexico allowed many slaves in from the north as well as others, and that there are places in Mexico that have plenty of Morenos such as Vera Cruz but to to continuo to say that the roots of Mexican culture are black, is just not accurate. It would be like saying the the roots of Ireland are Spanish because because of the Spanish Armada.


    I am not sure why people are so surprised to hear that blacks have a history in Mexico as Blacks do in many other counties including the US which had and has many more, even up to this day. Yes It is true that Mexico allowed many slaves in from the north as well as others, and that there are places in Mexico that have plenty of Morenos such as Vera Cruz, but to to continuo to say that “the roots of Mexican culture are black” is just not accurate but is almost belittling to the native indian culture by omission. It would be like saying the the roots of Ireland are Spanish because because of the Spanish Armada episode. I’m all for equality, but I think this Black afrocentrism thing has gone a little to far.

  • Tim Hunter

    Dr. Gates, awesome job! It just goes to show the connection the motherland has throughout this world that is often overlooked, ignored and denied. Thanks for showcasing the truth that we can take heed to for better knowledge. I really admire your work and I look forward to more documentaries to come. Very enlightening and a job well done. Much respect!

  • Ebony

    Gates needs to delve MUCH DEEPER into his research about the african origins of Mexico and Peru. Peru very much so has Blacks that represents and loves their culture. DO NOT THINK There are no Blacks in both of those countries and that they do not represent. EVA AYLLON, Peruvian is to name a few.

    Check out Robert Strongrivers, MASTER TEACHER – check out­r-moors.html

  • Ace

    Black Latinos are Latinos period. It shouldn’t be about creating a distinction among races, but of awareness and integration. All Latinos are a mixture of different ethnicity. So if you are a black dominican, you are dominican period. If you are a black Peruvian, you are Peruvian period. If you are African-American, you are American period. Distinction is the essence of racism period. This black pride, white power, hispanic power mumba-jumbo is the core of our segregation as humans. But most of us are to stupid to realize that. Don’t create more pain, but ease it. This is the reason why so many African nations are divided today, because of tribal distinction, but PBS wouldnt put that in a documentary. Higher learning is the way!!!!!!!!!!!!! Spread the love, not the hurt, not the orgullismo or in other words pride, that is ignorance at is best. How about a little embracing and awareness, aint that a little more humble.

  • jazmine

    can you guys help me out discuss the racial system in mexico and how it was shaped by Spanish colonialism and slave !

  • Kevin

    There will always be your kind in the world. Those that try and drive a wedge between something you can’t and will never be able to understand….And just like those before you (that surely resembled you tried and failed to do) and found out that the truth cannot and will not be suppressed. So…. You might try and divert the topic like you’re doing now with insults, but the truth inevitably finds its way to the light….yet….the question is; why does this offend you so much that you are compelled to comment in such ignorant ways?
    Is it just the inherent evil that is inside most people like yourself….or, is the fact that no matter what the subject matter is, your kind feel as it is your obligation to ruin it?
    Why can’t we have this? Is it not a brilliant documentary?
    I think so and ask that you move on to places you’d feel more at home in, like a right wing tea party blog or something similar that’s filled with lies and deceit.
    Thank you Dr. Gates for an excellent documentary. My son has Afro/Panamanian descent and I was looking for something of value like this. I want him to know real history and not the history that those like Jane fill the classroom books with.
    Let me apologize for the ignorance of Jane. Obviously she feels threatened when the truth is brought to the light.
    Apparently, you both have obligations…. yours seem to be filling in the missing data in the history books….hers, well; who knows.
    Seems….You want to write the real history and she wants it kept unknown.
    Please do something on Panama.

  • TheTRUTH

    The truth is, blacks are always being betrayed as more important or relevant than they really are. We know there were/are blacks in these countries. Who cares?????? There are Asians, Whites, etc. This liberal world has an infatuation/obsession with blacks. They’re overrated and overrepresented. Here in the US, at 13% of the population, they’re portrayed on TV or in movies as heroes, doctors, etc. Where’s the reality in that? Name a movie where the bad guy is black?? LOL Exactly! Every commercial has to have a black person. EVERY ONE. Where are the Hispanics and Asians? In the US, Hispanics now outnumber blacks, yet you don’t see that represented in movies or on TV. Asians are have the population of blacks. Again, you don’t see it. We have a black fetish in this country. It’s out of control. Btw, I know Hispanic is not a race, but let’s be honest, they are a separate entity in a sense; even they recognize that. Yes, there are black Hispanics, but most are White Hispanics. The reality is, Hispanics are taking over and moving up the ladder as blacks stay at the bottom. Yet, we continue to idolize them and make excuses for them. It’s ridiculous. Blacks won’t even begin to rise until we stop the false, unwarranted idolization AND take away the crutch that liberals have laid out for them. Anyway, once again, who cares??? I’m just glad more Hispanics are taking over schools and neighborhoods that were previously majority black. They are also fighting with one another more and more, further proving it wasn’t just Whites being “racists”. Blacks are the biggest racists in this new century and that’s finally coming out more and more, with much thanks from the internet. Just Google “flash mob attacks” and you’ll see how true this is.

  • Arturo Pereyra

    I’ve done extensive reaserch on this subject and here is what information I have accumulated; First Mexico is the Country in Latin America and the Carribean with the Least African DNA and roots; I’m not saying there wasn’t ever any interaction between the spainsh Ameridian and Africans what I am saying is that in Mexico it was Controlled and Minumised. After the Few remaining African slaves were set free in Mexico shortly before the US abolished slavery the spanish freed the Blacks to fend for themselves, some stayed in Veracruz the Port capital of mexico while others fled to Acapulco in the state of Guerrero. If you travel to those regions today you can still find the Decendants from those Origional African Slaves they are less than 1% of the country’s population. They still speak their native African Language and they speak a diffrent Spanish from the rest of Mexico, they speak more of a Heavy Carrebean Accent with African words implemented. Most of the Spanish language in mexico has its origins of Galician Spanish that is the region of Spain that most of the conquistadors came from, that region is ,Extremadura, Salamanca,Alandalusian of those Conquistadors who Conqured the Aztecs were Actually Meztisos themselves or” Mixed Race” they used Morrish Fighting Teqcniques Spears and Morrish Calvary they Carried with them Native Iberian DNA as well as Morrish/Arab and Jewish DNA before the Spanish Iquisition in Spain te Jews Arabs and Iberians all lived in Peace and intermarried with each other they shared Language culture and foods, this was the Golden age for Spain. After the spainsh Inquisition most Spaniards were Meztisos and Converted to Catholisms to avoid being banishe from Spain. This is the Second wave of Iberian Mestzos to The New world. Uppon arrival to the New world also know as New Spain Or Mexico they Brought few women only elites were allowed to bring with them women, that’s why for the Majority of the Mexican population Your Paternal DNA is Spanish while your Maternal DNA is Ameridian it all correlates!

  • MM

    Wow, I’ve learned alot watching this program. Mr. Gates you have opened my eyes again.

  • Summer

    Wow this is absolutely amazing. I can relate so much being an afro-latino myself. My family is from Brazil and Panama, but live in America. Whenever I speak Portuguese & Spanish people look at me with shock since the afro-latino community is so little known. This shed the light of a forgotten society

  • Sandra Trevino

    I love it. Wether we like it or not, we are such a melting pot in America. In Mexico they always hide the part of history where we had slavary.
    Of course the Spaniards treated the indigenous as slaves but some how the history hides that part.
    Felicidades and thank you for opening our eyes to that part of our culture.

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