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Full Episode: Haiti & the Dominican Republic: An Island Divided

In the Dominican Republic, Professor Gates explores how race has been socially constructed in a society whose people reflect centuries of inter-marriage, and how the country’s troubled history with Haiti informs notions about racial classification. In Haiti, Professor Gates tells the story of the birth of the first-ever black republic, and finds out how the slaves’s hard fight for liberation over Napoleon Bonaparte’s French Empire became a double-edged sword.

**Thank you to those people who have pointed out that the film opens with a guaguancó, rather than merengue, and many apologies for this error. The producers commissioned several merengue pieces from Grupo Bonyé and were assured that they were of this genre. The online version has been updated and this corrected version will be used for subsequent television broadcasts of the series.

  • Marie-Edmonde Parisien

    Hello Professor Gates,
    I recently saw you at Northwester University. My daughter Sarah, the little girl with the pink sneakers asked you a question. If there’s one person that can tell the story of the history of Haiti and Dominican Republic, it would be you. I can’t wait to see Black in Latin America.


  • Gustavo De Pena

    “An Island Divided” Informative and thorough. The only critic i have is on the Dominican segment of the documentary. Dr. Gates traveled extensively in Haiti showcasing the variety of opinions and communities that settle there. The same cannot be said of his exploration of the Dominican Rep. He reserved himself to the capital city, Santo Domingo. Completely disregarding the dissenting voices and divergent culture of the interior cities which have historically differed from the mandate of the capital. Thus, Professor Gates mainly depicted Santo Domingo rather then the Dominican Republic.

  • Youseline Dophin

    why you did not say anything about the TAINOS?

  • Frantz Maurice

    Great Job Professor Gates…Great Piece of Work!!!

  • Wellington Ogando

    I’m sorry but this guy is not Frank Cruz his name is Francis Santana ( el Songo)how talk.

  • MT

    I’m a dominican working in Haiti. I see this and I notice some kind of effort from the author to victimize the Haitians and make the dominicans look like the bad guys. Haiti is a nation of great people, so Dominicans. Based on the way the island was divided not only in space, but in language, traditions, culture, and so on.. it is easy to understand the differences between Haiti and DR. Theses two nations are way distant from each other in infrastructure, social development, education, economics, politics, etc. I notice a lack of fairness in some poeples judgement, including well respected Professor Gate, about dominicans. Being here in Haiti I’ve notice that racism among haitians themselves its even worst than what some people could call racism in the DR. Sorry to disagree, but that’s certainly the truth.

  • Claudio Peña

    I am proud of my Dominican heritage and I’ll be the first to defend it but, everything said in this documentary is true. Professor Gates I applaud you for opening our eyes to our beautiful blackness.

  • Alexandro

    I really like the documentary but I wonder why you do not mention the Taino race, which is why some if not most of Dominican have that Brown color skin

  • Claudio Peña

    I am proud of my Dominican heritage and I’ll be the first to defend it but, everything said in this documentary is true.
    Professor Gates I applaud you for showing us our beautiful blackness.

  • Michael Alvarez

    Excellent documentary. But i am agree with what Gustavo de Pena said in his comment and also at beginning, when they were talking about Merengue, it wasn’t Merengue that they were playing and dancing, that was Salsa.

  • Berto

    Thank you that was very powerful to me. I’m from the Dominican Republic , I was Adapted and brought here in 1989. I was just a child only 11 at the time. So thank you for the help now i can tell my kids about my people, and have them watch this with me. Thank you

  • Dr. FAB

    I was very impressed with this piece. It was very imformative. I would agreed though that Haiti was thoroughly explored where as Domonican Republic was not. Being Haitian living abroad , it was a very well put together history lesson for me. I will without a doubt buy the CD for my children. Thanks again for shedding the light on a beautiful country and culture, that may a time look repulsive to the unaided eye.

  • winston guzman

    Dr Gates it is a very interesting documental but i see some lack of info since the begging when the band is playing son (cuban) not merengue, then our mother land is not africa is spain who colinize us and when columbus get to the island there were not african they where tainos wich you never mention in this documental, then after we were already a colony from spain thats when the africans get to the other side of the island.

    the african used to do the sugar cain labor after the spanish kill all of the tainos. do more reserch please.
    please visit the dominican history museum in the culture plaza on cesar nicolas penson st, corner with maximo gomez ave wich you dont show in the documentary.

  • rooster

    yeah why he didn’t say anything about the tainos..dominican republic is totally different than haiti cultures are way different ..and different language ..why some people don’t understand it or not .is totally different.

  • bachata

    The dominican culture is not like haiti’s because the dominican has also taino heritage like words like MAIZ,CAZA,YUCA and in music GUIRA….I’m not saying that santo domingo does not have african heritage but it also has a lot of taino, too. 15% of the dominican population has at least some blood of taino.Sometimes tainos and mulattos can be confused…

  • Antonio

    This documentary is bias and is full of mistakes and perceptions is tend to favor Haitians, is not impartial,
    How can you decide what is your race when you are a mix of culture?, is not just about the color of the skin, is about the culture and customs, plus acknowledge all the races that conform the Dominican.

    Haitian is a Africa and stayed with them, we are a mix of African, Spaniards and native Indian, and we acknowledged all culture in us!.

  • Antonio

    Este documental es bias y no representa la realidad historica y cultural de manera fiel!, esta hecho para favorecer el punto de vista haitiano!.

  • Mamerto Valerio

    Excelente trabajo Profesor Gates.

    Nuestros dos territorios tienen una gran diversidad, recursos, riquesas y gente alegre. Conozco ambos paises por dentro, sus culturas, sus trabajo, en cada municipio rural y en ambas capitales. Tambien conozco bien a Africa magrebiana, subshariana. Somos cultural, social y geneticametne afrodescendientes (Haiti casi 100%) y Rep. Dom (95%), lamentablemente negado por las elites de poder y economico, mas una buena parte de la poblacion comun.

    Un abrazo desde la isla.

  • rafael

    Mrs Gates does not knows nothing about my country Dominican Republic,Santo Domingo is not Dominican Republic,Santo Domingo is only the Capital of my Country and because of that we have lots of more things to be
    seen and talk or write about.

  • Ronald Edouard

    I will have to say to my friends that if they really want to know about me, they have to see and understand that document Dr. Gates present on Haiti-St Domingue. I happen to know the cited facts because I was born and lived in Haiti. I also went to school there. But, some people don’t know these important historical facts about blacks. I thank you Dr. Gates.

  • Villajuanero

    Profesor Gates acts imparcially and try to justify ” the genocide” make by Dessalines against the white French like a figth for freedom and condems Trujillo, when acusing him of a genocide that never has been probe that 15 thousand Haitians were slaugthered, Where are the osaments (Bones, skulls ) of such “Masacre”; We will not deny the killing and will no try to justify the wrong doing of “a Nationalist Dictator”, but 15 Thousand is a big Lie that has been told in detriment of the Dominican and blaming us for the crimes that we also suffer in the hands of a madman like General Trujillo. Also profesor Gates is not interested in finding out the actions that Dessalines, Boyer and the Haitians did against the Spanish side ( Santo Domingo ) during their invasion and occupation by 22 years, if He want to know what happened ?? He should find out What Dessalines did to their French counterpart during his bloody and most racial revolution of the history of mankind. Profesor Gates just porbe to me that he is a bitter black racist , like it was told during his incident with the white cop and want to impose african values and culture to a proud and brave people like the Dominicans.

  • Stephanie Suero

    Wonderful to see this, great work. I must say that it is unfortunate that no other parts of the Dominican Republic were taken into consideration. For example, the South Western region where both sides of my family are from, show great pride and an undeniable connection with Haiti and Africa.
    In today’s Dominican society it can be difficult or even overwhelming to identify with only one race. The Taino, Spanish, and African are all part of the Dominican Identity.

    I am eager to see Black in Latin America!

  • GlobalCitizen

    Should Americans export the idea of exclusive blackness and exclusive whiteness? History, race and identity can get complicated. Many Black Americans have our gradations of brown and segregation among each other. Black men glorify biracial Dominican/Brazilian beauty and we even prefer a biracial aesthetic ala Alicia Keyes, Barack Obama, & Beyonce.

    I am not sure if this is a balanced perspective of race, identity, culture and mixing.

  • Luis

    The music played in the beginning of the video was not Merengue, it was Son. The name of the singer is Francis Santana, not Frank Cruz. Also, Feb 27 1844 was not the first time we experience independence. Many good historical insights but at the same time biased portrayal of the Dominican identity situation.

  • Felix

    Response to Gustavo De Pena posting.

    In defense of Dr. Gates, he depicted Santo Domingo and Port-au-Prince as they are both equally Capitals to its own country, therefore, he was fair. I believe he was absolutely right about the black people in the Dominican Republic thinking they are white!! In my opinion, Haiti and the Dominican Republic are in one Island and are one people with one history. Unfortunately there is a division. When you deny the fact they are one history you reduce our struggle, fight, and history to nothing of value. Instead of embracing the Haitians as brother and sister they shun them. I ask the Dominicans to please look in the mirror, change and become the real you, black (Negro) and pridefully so!!

    Dr. Gates did an excellent work! I praise him.

  • Roosevelt Jean-Francois

    Outstanding piece on both countries of the island. A very well done job professor Gates. It’s great to bring history from here and there and to show the way where Haitians and Dominicans can join forces for the betterment of their own people.
    I would put it like this: Dominicans are more about what you can see and Haitians are more about what you can discover.
    With the Dominicans, you can see pride, Epicurean life and an apparent joy of life and well being. This has been a result through determination, national identity and a very committed elite to lead this society towards peace and progress.
    There’s a noble heritage, deep values, greatness, strength,courage living in Haitians. It will take organization, leadership and commitment to bring it out.
    As Antenor Firmin puts it in De L’egalite des races humaines: Haiti is a gate to the world for the African race.

  • Wandaliz

    I would love to see an episode on this issue as it concerns Puerto Rico and the black presence there as it was in the past and in the present.

  • nala

    he said nothing aout Tainos because
    A. Truely no more existed past the 1800’s as mentioned.
    B. These documentaries focus on the Afro-Descendents of the area. Not on the aboriginal people.

  • Alex

    Great documentary about the issue of race and well said, the Dominicans are in denial of being Black. Moreover, it is true that Haiti is the poorest country of the Western Hemisphere but will always remain the first free black nation. They are a testimony that we are all Humans regardless of race and when inspired God knows what what are capable of.

  • Rudy Santos

    Youseline Dophin, this is a documentary about black people, not a history of the island.
    I agree with Gustavo De Pena. Rural Dominican Republic is a different animal.

  • Melissa Santos

    Before the spanian and the african people arive to the island… it was empty? what about the legacy of the TAINOS?

  • Andre C

    Nice work Dr. Gates,
    I am curious though – you did not speak of the many shades of colour that make up the Haitian population as well. Also, the practice of voodoo in Haiti is not as widespread as mentioned. I hope you find the time to explore more of Haiti’s rich culture that you spoke about. I await your next installment.

    God Bless.

  • Adam Buhler

    Thank you so much for an accurate and in-depth look at Haitian and Dominican relations. I especially appreciated the accurate description of Haiti’s history and independence. After watching many documentaries and “special presentations” about Haiti since the earthquake, I was relieved to find this, which truly understands Haiti, its people, and their rich history and culture. As one who has had a keen interest in Haiti and it’s language and people for the last 6 years I can recommend this accurate portrayal to my friends and family who also want to know more about Haiti and its resilient people. I can’t wait to see more!

  • DLT3

    Great summary, Prof. Gates, though you did slaughter all the names of the places, but you get an A for effort. i have to agree with you on several fronts. It does often seems that Haiti will forever pay for being the first Black nation. France has never let them forget. I must say that the view from the Citadel was stunning. Overall I though you did a good job. Prof. Gates don’t know if you ever got the chance to read “Why the Cocks Fight,” but it is a great book also depicting Haitian-Dominican relations and the historical pull for strongman authoritarian regimes on the island.

    Just a couple of responses to commentaries. Youseline, tainos were mentioned just not by name. Tainos has been dead for hundreds of years island-wide. The promotion of Dominicans as an Native American peoples is simply a fallacy, clearly announced by DR’s very Minister of Culture. Just wanted to give props to the some of the interviewees! Love me some Silvio Torres Saillant!! Good job, friend! Moya Pons also did an excellent job, as always. Gustavo, I disagree with you. Gates went to Nagua, Dajabon, and Santo Domingo. The documentary offered a good depiction of divergent ideas on the DR side.

  • Sasha

    Fantastic work Dr. Gates.

    @Youseline – The Tainos are extinct. There are no Dominicans who have Taino in their blood nor Haitians nor any other Caribbean country. Did you miss the part where the term “Indio” came from? It was used to negate the African root. The whole point of this work is to Highlight the denial of African roots in the DR.

  • Roberto Jimenez

    Great! but missing information on Taínos in DR.

  • Jo

    I am Dominican and I would like to say that this is a great documentary that shows the issues that Dominicans tend to have with race. The truth needs to be told whether some other Dominicans get offended, sometimes the truth hurts. The main issues with Dominicans is that they don’t know their history and a person that does not know their history knows nothing. I am proud to say that yes I am Black and I love the culture, one that you can tell that our African descendants are very present. Thank you for the documentary. I did a paper on this issue and I used Silvio Torres article as one of my source.

  • Past. Mayerline Louis

    Good job professor!
    Though the video was very informative, I also felt that you could have shown the other side of Haiti (the rich side). I’ve been a missionary in the DR for quite a while now. First hand, there is a lot of poverty over there, although; not as much as Haiti. The media constantly portrays Haiti as the poorest in the west and always show La Saline, Cite Soleil, Bel Air which are the poorest slums of the country. I believe it’s time that the media doesn’t show only these areas as Haiti in a whole but must also take a trip to Petion-Ville, Kenskoff, Furcy, Fermath, Montagne Noire, La Boule ( just to name a few) which are very close to Port-au-Prince. Again, thank you for this documentary.

  • Helga Thorberg

    Great work and informative. I enjoyed it very much and i will spread this “video” among my friend . Thank you and congratulations on your educating work.

  • Amad Taver

    to Youseline Dophin:


    are you kidding me?

    please read the history book again and then comment….

    regarding the documentary…. i agree with Gustavo de Pena, your focus was mainly in that area. i won´t say it´s vague, but you should´ve looked a bit more.

  • Hamlet

    I am 100% dominican, born and grow up over there. Now I am living in EEUU, and from this documentary I learned a little more of my own culture. This documentary is such as a memory refresh of my country history. Thanks, Much Professor Gates.

  • edward

    Los Dominicanos somos una nación de múltiples culturas, esto es lo que nos hace fuertes y únicos

    Edward Telleria.

  • edward

    Los Dominicanos somos una nación de múltiples culturas, esto es lo que nos hace fuertes y únicos.

  • Jorge Estevez

    Your documentary on the Dominican Republic and Haiti, although very well done in many respects, was heavily if not entirely one sided. You traveled extensively throughout Haiti yet only concentrated your observations on the Dominican side solely in the city of Santo Domingo.
    The DR is a very big place and to truly understand the complexities of Dominican Identity one must take all identities into account. For example the exclusion of all things Indian based on assumptions that a) the Indians became extinct b) that the connection that Dominicans have to their Taino (indio) ancestry is based solely on negation of negritude which was the opinion of one of the people you interviewed.
    Dominicans are a tripartite, tri-racial people. That is the fact. Because we are thus, then we will always have fluid identities. Many people identify with Indian not just because they are light skinned blacks but because many do indeed have Native ancestry. It would have been good for you to interview people who identify this way and then draw conclusions. The same can be said for Spanish identity etc etc.
    Recent mtdna studies on the island has indeed shown that many Dominicans have mtdna that is African. But not surprisingly between 17 – 30 percent have Native American mtdna. In a population of almost 12 million people ( on the island and the diaspora) this is a big number, that when taken into account must be on the table when discussing Dominicans assertions of Taino Indian ancestry.
    The argument that since “most Dominicans” have black ancestry then the island is black is in my opinion flawed and biased. In the United States, African Americans are only 35 million out of 300 million people. Can we then assume that all Americans are White, because this component is in the majority?

    I would love the opportunity to show you just how deep Native Taino Indian culture, language, biology and religiosity runs in the Dominican Republic. You would be surprised just how deep this rabbit whole is.

  • Thierry Despeignes

    Great and profound piece of work from a man that i admired before and will certainly continue to admire, my son should see this. I only hope, the same way Trujillo promoted the hatred of Haitians back then, the intelligent Dominicans of today can do the same to promote unity between the two nations.

  • Alfonso

    I’m agree is Youseline, professor Gates doesn’t mention anything about the FIRST people who were living in QUISQUEYA (which is the real name of the whole island) the TAINOS. They were not white or black or any other “primary skin color”. They were wipe out of the world just…..BECAUSE.

  • Juan D. Ramos

    This is a good documentary for a person that wishes to have an introduction of what the cultural tension between my country(Dom. Rep) and Haiti has been under for the past 300 years or so, not too much about the roots of my country and a bit mocking to us(if you ask me) since he persist on accentuating the fact that we deny our African ancestry. Yes we have been through a traumatic repression of a fascist dictator who in some form contributed to that sentiment, but very little is said in this documentary about the massacres done to our country by Jean Pier Boyer and Charles Rivirie Herald…For years this has been water under the bridge and we struggle with haiti to come forward each as an independent nation.

    The city of Santo Domingo is not the best location to sample the Dominican ethnicity, approximately 200,000 Haitian nationals live among us in the capital..It would be like going to Washington heights in New York city and saying that most of new yorkers are Dominicans…

    In General it is not a secrete to any Dominican like myself that we have African ancestry(and the fact that we tend to hide it), as do cubans and puertoricans alike,it is a total lie that we deny this fact. Our culture is best described by the words of juan luis guerra “somos una raza encendida, NEGRA BLANCA Y TAINA”(we are a race on fire, black white and taina) to that you can add Arab and even some Asian Ancestry, , the professor himself said in the beginning of the documentary, we are proud of our MULTICULTURAL ethnicity. regionally, my country is very diverse and you can tell the difference when you go from town to town, go to the city of bonao and see “los chinos de bonao”(chinese of bonao), go to jarabacoa, constanza or moca and you will think most of us to be white, go to santiago de los caballeros, san fransisco de macorix and you will think we are mostly morenos(arab looking), go to san pedro de macorix or puerto plata and we are cocolos(term used for afroamericans who arrived in the first american intervention of 1916) and so on….

    I will say that its been a fair investigation toward the exclusive intent of exploring “black in latin america title”, but some facts should of been explored a bit deeper on the multicultural dominican republic to understand a bit more the “complexity” or simplicity of the matter….

    In my contry we call each other negro in a fraternal way, even if we are not…
    Juan Darwin Ramos.

  • Katy

    That is not Merengue being played by the band in the beginning of the documentary..It’s Guaguancó. The editing shows, in some parts, people dancing Merengue, while the music is not. Not a good representation of the music of the Dominican Republic.

  • Yoseph

    Professor Gates you have opened the door for all of us to be proud of Haiti. Watching the video on the Dom. Rep. reminded me of the USA. It looks like it is becoming more like it’s Latino neighbors a mixture of mulattos and Mestizios.

    Knowing the languages of Creole and Spanish would help us to come to a better understanding our Southern neighbors.

    Thanks for the splendid educational video.

    San Antonio Tejas

  • Yoseph

    Is this series on just these two nations in Latin America? I hope not!

    Thanks again!

  • Fritz Stm

    Eminent Harvard Prof. Louis Gates Jr. reinforces my long held belief that, while there are many disadvantages to being Haitian, at the very least this origin offers me a distinct benefit, that is KNOWING WHO I AM, WHERE MY TRUE ROOTS ARE. As the video “Haiti & the DR…” clearly shows our neighbors living in the eastern portion of the island of Quiskeya/Hispaniola/Haiti lack my self-awareness identity. I am sure that this will change because the truth cannot remain hidden too long.

    Dare I say that I somewhat pity my neighbors for the stated reason?

  • Richard

    Well it is a great start…It was succint and informative. Story thay should have been known to the world but was put under the rug for some reason. Haiti is facing a great reconstruction challenge and some will try to maneuver it in their favor to expand thier wealth at the detriment of the haitian people….WATCH OUT.Be it locals or foreigneirs or even neighbours.

  • del

    I think Louis gates should do a documentary on the blacks in Asia. He can talk about the blacks in India, the pacific islands, and south eastern Asia I believe it will be very interesting for black Americans to know, because its rarely talked or depicted in the media, but nice documentary I learned a lot about Latin Americas black heritage.

  • Victor

    I like your documentary..
    It was very deep in certain issue..Things that I didn’t even know and involved my roots.But you didn’t mention a little bit about things like Haitian massacre in Santiago or moca..
    Please Professor, you did a great job, I am Dominican in Florida and today I was at a haitian friend house, bit please chec k this…And you will understand a lot of roots of Dominicans -Haitian discrepancies..

  • Carlos

    Liked it overall, but the music being played throughout the conversation on Merengue was Salsa and their is a difference. also felt like it could have gone in to the immigration issue a bit more. DR did have a “Haitian” president btw, “Lilis” was born in Puerto Plata to two Hatian parents and held the office twice.

    Love that the issue is being spoken about though!!!

  • Minouche

    Dear Professor Gates :

    Your analogy presented had been so well explain for the first time. You deserve all our congratulations. Excellent work !

  • Riel

    Dominicans have more Taino roots than any group on the planet as proved by DNA testing yet Gates and even the so called expert fails to mention that fact. Tainos never died out they mixed in with both the Spainards and the Africans and I hate to tell you but your history book lied to you or simply had no idea what they were talking about. Good thing technology has brought the truth to light.

    It doesn’t matter if people THINK that Dominicans look black or that they have African ancestry that does not mean they have to defer to being African because blacks in the US were forced to…

    The problem with US racist mentality they have been brainwashed to believe many people who are more white than black are actually more black than white. There are many persons all over latin america Cuba, Puerto rican, Brazil… who are for all intensive purposes “dark skinned white people”. They look white in features, they are primarily white genectically, yet if you are dark in skin tone, have a curl to your hair, etc, etc. you just have to claim to be a full blown African.

    To Katy: That is no where near Guaguanco which is a rumba played almost exclusively with drums.

  • Nelson Ariel

    This documentary shows us a problem but no solutions. The Island belongs to nobody, no Dominicans, no Haitians, no Americans, no Spaniards nor French or any foreign power. It’s supposed to belong to the people living on the island. The black or white discussion shouldn’t exist in 2011, it’s a factor used for corruption and misinformation.

  • Joey

    I thought that the professor did a good job giving the history of Haiti and travelling around Haiti, but not a good job depicting the history of the Dominican Republic specially the time that the Dominican Republic spent under Haitian oppression, and i also believe that he did not do a good job travelling around the Dominican Republic and showing other parts of the island were the racial make up is much more different then the capital Santo Domingo.

  • Maxime

    Professor Gates, you did a wonderful job. However, I’m wondering why you never mentioned that Taino Indians/Arawaks populated the land of Haiti just as much as they did Santo Domingo when Christopher Columbus first immigrated to Ayiti/Kiskeya. See the following from Wikipedia:


  • Dana

    Excellent work, Professor Gates. Thank you for opening our eyes.

  • Ishmael

    In almost every part of the Western hemisphere, including the US, there were mixed ancestry individuals who denied their African roots. Identification is more often a political statement than a phenotype. That being said I am a proud African-American with strong American Indian roots as well. Why do Dominicans feel that their culture is just so distinct from any other? In economic and political reality we are now one…and that’s the real point for me.

    Ishmael G

  • Jorge Baracutei

    Youseline was simply stating a fact that is born out of recent genetic studies that have been conducted in the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico, which demonstrates that indeed a large portion of the populations in these islands do in fact have Taino ancestry. Genetics unlike history is not biased. The genetic evidence points to Taino survival and continuity and not to extinction. Since this is the case Taino have to be a part of any discussion that deals with Dominican Identity.
    Historical perspectives on the supposed extinction of the Taino will eventually reconcile with the genetic evidence that keeps mounting. Not only do Dominicans have anywhere from 15-30 percent Taino mtdna , but most of it comes from mutations that are only found on the island. Some people such as myself are very proud of our native roots. People who identify as Indio do not deny having African ancestry as some would have you belive. However in discussions such as those present in this documentary, immediately assert that the Native population is not there and therefore and does not matter is somewhat offensive to some. We cannot speak about Dominicans without considering the Taino, the African, the Spanish, the Arabs, Jews and everyone else who contributed to our culture and gene pool.
    All the best
    Jorge Baracutei Estevez

    PS Yes and that is not Meregune playing in the background and the Guira is a Taino muscial instrument.

  • Robers Dolcine

    This is one of the most informative documentary I have watched and definitely the best dealing with the turmoiled relations between Haiti and Dominican Republic. Professor Gates was not 100% objective in his presentation of the two countries. No one should be surprised by that. Subjectivity gives birth to beauty. It was the lack of objectivity in the documentary that gives it all its value. I am a Haitian, a little too proud maybe to be black, but right after I’ve finished to watch the piece and shed the tears, I could see that much of it was dedicated to a country that is today on its knees despite its great achievements in the past.

    Professor Gates wanted to show Haiti in a different light and help black everywhere to embrace their heritage to the fullness. He passed the test with flying colors. It would be impossible to achieve that while remaining objective at the same time.

    Today, Haiti needs a boost of anything that it can find. I am sorry that the DR did not get its fair share of exposure. The DR is a beautiful country and Dominicans wonderful folks for the most part they should be praised for putting order in its politics, gaining the confidence of tourists and achieving relative prosperity. In the 60s and 70s it was the other way around. Haiti was the hub of tourists from around the globe. We simply need to get our act together and redeem what we have lost. Only Education can help us achieve that goal.

    Thanks a lot Prof. Gates

  • Jean Pierre

    The music is not merengue but salsa or guaracha.
    Also the merengue and the Haitian meringue have the same roots. the same music…carabineer….

  • Keanao

    Guakia Taino! Guakia Yahabo!

  • Jamie Foxer

    I usually love your specials, Prof. Gates, but I must highlight two blaring mistakes.

    at 2:00, you speak of Merengue as the SOUL of the Dominican Republic. But what you displayed was what seemed to be a Salsa ensemble (including Congas, Timbales and Trumpets), the music playing in the background was Cuban Son, etc. The music was NOT merengue, and the ensemble was not the typical Merengue ensemble (involving Dominican Tambora, Guira, saxophones, etc).

    The second mistake was the investigation of African-derived religious faiths in the Dominican Republic. While not as widespread as Vodoun in Haiti or Santeria or Palo in Cuba, the Dominican Republic DOES have its own native interpretation of Ifa or Orisha-traditions: 21 Divisiones. I’m surprised you elected to cover what seems in comparison to be a smaller, splinter group in Bayamo that is fusing Congolese and Catholic traditions for that segment.

  • Moises Perez

    Thank you Robers for your thoughtfu, honest and most interesting response generated by Dr. Gates’ documentary. I think that the documentary is a very good beginning. It can only be thought of as a beginning because it falls short as it must, given its brevity and journalistic limitations of depth. Unfortunate for Dr. Gates is an academic and should perhaps know better. The fact that he highlights academics in his video hardly makes up. In the end the presentation looks for voices that merely mirror generally held biased views on the topic. Yes it is true that Dominicans been historically in denial of their African roots but this is not the case with a new generation of Dominicans that do not. Our voices are hardly ever recorded inthe charge of denial. As the creator of the Afro Quisqueya Cultural Center I can attest to this. It is also true that the Dominican Republic is the most integrated nation in Latin America. In the Dominican Republic for example we could not have a town called Loiza Aldea such as in Puerto Rico. Moreover, it is precisely because of the segregation of Africans in Cuba and Brazil that we can ironically speak of a vibrant Afro-Cuban/Brazilian culture. It is also true that the Spanish side of the island was the side of moderation and inclusion. This is not to criticize the Haitian rebels for afterall they did battle a colonial power that subjected them to slavery. The march to the Spanish side that led to the creation of the Dominican Republic was brutal but also noble and it should be underscored that it was the Haitian army that also abolished slavery on the “Dominican” side. Finally, for anyone still reading this long message, it would have been interesting to note that one of our founding fathers was Black without belittleing the fact; it would have been interesting to speak of Pres. Ulises Heureux today know as one of the most shrew Dominican President of all times, he was a fully Black Dominican President merely 40 years after the birth of the nation and also partially of Haitian descent; it would have also been interesting to hear of Pres. Gregorio Luperon, a dark mulatto; it would have been interesting to hear in the modern times of Pena Gomez, arguably the most popular politician of modern times also of Haitian descent and his statue is at the entrance to the main airport in Santo Domingo (which Dr. Gates somehow did not see on his way in and out)which also bears his name. And why not make reference to the gargantuan efforts of the true first respondents to the Haitian earthquake, Dominicans of every extraction. All this from a nation in denial? I sincerely hope that Dr. Gates, who I have always admired, returns and takes a closer look at the matter. Having already substantiated some of the biased positons that continue to block progress between Dominicans and Haitians, it is time for Dominicans and Haitians to face an uncertain future for both nations and people. This is a task which Dr. Gates can not do for us, we Dominicans and Haitians must do it together.

  • THECaribbeanFolkloreProject

    Thanks so much for this.

    We’ve posted it everywhere we can!

  • Elric

    For those who take this documentary as an insult on DR mass killing you read the professor’s mind wrong. Things are not black and white He made a complex case it is a philosophical case where you can seat and think. Please don’t say anything wrong about Dessalines action against slavery you have no idea what it looked like back then to be a slave. Please I asking to read more world history mr. or ms. Villajuanero {freedom does not pass down you take your freedom however you can} let me tell you what the French and Spanish did to those people nothing on earth can compensate them from that. they were killed and raped both men and women while they working night and day for nothing but for the french. That has nothing to do with racist by mention or looking for the truth.
    thanks for you comment it is wake up call from those who want to forget the past.

  • Dessiree Pena

    I am Dominican I. thing you report was very informative, but you just focus on one city of the Dominican Republic which I think is not fair. Also the report was more focus on the haiti side.

  • Mary Jane Perez Cornielle

    Once again Professor Gates you have produced a great documentary! You addressed all the questions I’ve had for years. My mother immigrated to the USA in 1950, I was born a year later. My mother taught me as much as she could about the Dominican Republic. She also made sure I went every summer. She introduced me to immediate family (Mulattos) who believe themselves to be ‘white’, and she introduced me to extended family members who by all appearances are Black, but consider themselves ‘indio’ in color. My mother had told me that she always considered herself ‘India’ in color, and was only labeled as “Black” in the USA. So, when I heard this in your piece, I felt my mother standing behind me in spirit. Her maiden name is CORNIELLE, I’ve always said we must have some BLACK/HAITIAN descendant, but the ‘family’ likes to say, oh no, there were 3 brothers who came to Hispaniola from France, yeah right!
    I have already started to search for my family descendants, and I’ve only gotten up to my Great-Grandfather. I also would like to do a DNA Geneology of my ancestry. Perhaps some day. Keep up your good work!
    Your Devoted Fan

  • Sheila

    I found this really informative. Because of the historical exposure that it gave to Haiti, the first Black Republic. I am of Dominican decent ,born and raised here in NYC and I am very proud of my African Heritage as well as my Taino and Spanish Heritage I think that the reason that many in Dominican Republic unconciusly deny their african roots its because the nation itself is a by product of imperialism, as Prof Gates investigated. I mean even here in the United States you will find some African Americans that deny their the African heritage and shared the notion that white or lighter is better. I think that lack of education and knowledge of ones cultural history makes one suspectible to this ignorance. In America there is a lack of Black Pride or anything non-causian pride, I wish things would be different.

  • Raúl

    Concerning the Taino component in some Dominicans, please refer to the mtdna study mentioned in the following Puerto Rican newspaper (the study was conducted by the University of Puerto Rico in both, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic):

    It’s important to make a thorough research into both countries in order to understand why they are the way they are. I must say that I haven’t seen the video yet, I’m basing my response on the responses that have arisen thus far.

  • Nikky

    I found this documentary kind of b.s towards dominicans as always. and yes he did explore more hatian “side” and “culture”.
    We dont consider ourselves white, anglo saxon. WE do know we are a MIX culture.
    Im sick, im tired of all this biased towards dominicans.
    I found very funny that you even tried to justified the masacre of the french population in haiti.
    and yes our mother land it is Spain, we were not colonized by Africa (nigeria, kenya or any other african country), we were colonized by spain just like any other Ibero-America Country.

  • antonio garcia

    Good Job Prof Gates:
    In a Nut shell. The evidence I know says ,Tainos were exterminated it was not time for spaniards and aborigenes in the island to “mate”
    .Only Tainos words were left,kasabe ,maracas,yuka, guazabara and a dozen more. The African influence in the island is overwhelming, The maquiavelic ,evil influence of the “international community”(france in haiti and the Yankys in the Dominican side,hasbeen determinant in keeping the ignorance ,division animosity
    between the two people. ,(rightwing coupdtat and support of murderous dictatoships in both sides. Trujillo, Duvalier. etc.etc Silencing the negative interventions of the international White Supremacist powers ,nothing can be really be understood.Since the Haitian revolution the attitude of those powers has been criminal and hypocritical .They should be ashamed ,but they are not. Up until today France ,Canada and USA keep their dirty boots in the island.
    Antonio Garcia

  • Volmar Djimmy

    This documetary is a great peace of work professor Gates , the only thing i mention is they always show the worst place in haiti and there so many great and good place also to show the world even we are a poor country but we have best places also like the rest of the world . God Job Mr Gates .

  • Middle School Teacher

    Thank you Professor Gates! I teach mostly Puerto Rican and Dominican students in a middle school that is pre-dominantely Latino. I will definitely share this with my students. My students are proud of being Latino but often do not know anything about the African influence in their countries or don’t want to discuss the issue of race.

  • Antonio Evora

    Let us focus on the historical roots of the Haitian problem and the striking welfare contrast with the neighboring
    Dominican Republic. By using the theory of violence and social orders to explain why the political elites of both countries behaved differently with respect to economic, political and institutional reform in the late 19th century. BY extending the theoretical framework arguing that the compounding hostilities between Haiti and the Dominican Republic in the early 19th century have deepened the existing political, social and cultural cleavages and, in turn, have induced different strategic concerns and a disparate process of national identity formation, which have aggravated the depth and persistence of their UNEQUAL DEVELOPMENT PATTERNS.


    Merci de votre travail élaboré. Comme d’autres, je me demande où sont passés les amérindiens de l’histoire de notre île Tous ceux qui peuplaient la terre d’Haïti, partie de l’Ouest également, si bien répertoriés, si bien en place, avec leur cinq cacicats dirigés par leurs chefs caciques, en particulier la reine Anacaona connue pour sa grande culture, sa poésie, ses chants et ses danses. Tous ceux que Caonabo, chef espagnol ;a massacré, alors même qu’il était reçu officiellement par la reine Anacaona-la fleur-d’or. Où est passé sa soeur , la belle HIgueynamota réputée pour sa somptueuse beauté. Et pourquoi n’avoir pas évoqué le plus important tas de cadavres d’haïtiens que le président Trujillio a laissé derrière lui, après son assasinat. Cela n’est toujours pas oublié. On ne peut chasser les ombres avant de les évoquer. Parler s’avère indispensable, si l’oubli est vraiment souhaité. Continuez donc votre travail, professeur. On le souhaite.

  • Marie-Ange Charles

    As a Haitian, at times I find it difficult to understand, let alone explain the current state of my country. This documentary has brought back a lot of memories and provided a clearer picture regarding our interactions with DR and the rest of the world. Thank you for creating this wonderful documentary professor Gates!

  • Miguel Ovalle

    is very easy say that the Dominicans are black and negate their black roots, but Mr. Gates you should know that this same 90% of the population that have African roots,also have Spanish heritage. if in the united states of america a person who have African ancestry and white(European) is black, this is their problem not the problem m to the Dominican Republic, we call this people; mix how they really are. I know that is not easy to understand this situation may unique in the world but the D.R. is Taino, Spanish And African.

    Frank Moya Pons, a Dominican historian documented that Spanish colonists intermarried with Taíno women, and, over time, these mestizo descendants intermarried with Africans, creating a tri-racial Creole culture. 1514 census records reveal that 40% of Spanish men in the Dominican Republic had Taíno wives.[44] Ethnohistorian Lynne Guitar writes that Taínos were declared extinct in Spanish documents as early as the 16th century; however Taíno Indians kept appearing in wills and legal records in the ensuing years

    wikipedia :

  • Jeana H

    Wow, were do I start. Well, I’ll try not to repeat anything but I will expound a little. Having lived in the Dominican Republic, dated a Haitian, being fluent in Spanish and learned some creole, I believe that I can speak from some experience. Both cultures are beautiful. Yes, there were some inconsistencies, but the documentary did more for understanding the DR/Haitian conflict than anything else ever has. The merengue, depending on who is talking, is known to have orignated in Haiti and then modified in the DR. The “son” and “guaguanco” from PR has hatian roots initiated by the contradanza from Haiti as Haitians traveled and brought their music styles with them (perhaps while helping other latin nations fight for their independence). Yes, Tainos were present but in very few number when everyone started mixing, so I’m sure there is some minute, miniscule portion of Taino blood in Dominicans, but not as strong as the African and Spanish blood. So anyone of color would probably get that hue from the African side. But we won’t split hairs…many Dominicans deny African ancestry and MANY enbrace their African Ancestry. It just depends on how much of their history they know, just like African Americans in the USA. There also is racism in the Haitian society. But really, tell me how can there not be differences made in any place in the world when one group is subjugated, oppressed and intentionally made out to be inferior. Without proper knowledge and love of self and background, who would want to be associated with a group of people who were objectified and mariginalized for capitalistic purposes. The “Sambo” in the window conversation sums it up in the video. We have to get past pointing fingers and actually come together as people of color and celebrate our similarities. No, if you have a varied ancestry you don’t have to deny it, but don’t deny one part and celebrate the others because of world-wide ignorance. The Dominican Republic is my second home, and I aspire to make it to Haiti one day soon. I am an African American who when in the DR, am mistaken for Dominican and when around the Hatian community am mistaken for Haitian. And I tell everyone the same thing…Thank you, but I am Black. Because when it comes down to it we all are to a certain degree. Peace and Love everyone. Thank you Professor Gates for the rich information that inspired this dialogue.

  • Daly Guilamo

    To those of you asking as to why Gates didnt discuss Tainos then you may have not been paying attention. He clearly explains in the very beginning while walking through el Conde that Dominicans are a mixture of White and Black, the Tainos were killed early in the 1500s. The variety of skin tones do not come from Latin America but the European conquistadores and the enslaved Africans!!! Indio is used as a way for Dominicans to distance themselves ideologically from Haiti and Spain!!! Either re-watch the film or read a book, start off with Frank Moya Pons’ text on the DR. DOMINICANS ARE NOT INDIANS & THEY WILL NEVER BE. EMBRACE YOUR AFRICAN HERITAGE AND GET OVER IT. STOP SIDING WITH TRUJILLO AND STOP EMBRACING THE WHITE SLAVE MASTER LEGACY!!!

  • John Link

    Enjoyed the documentary. Since the hatians claim to be of african heritage, I would like to know HOW MANY of the African nations are helping their haitian brothers, or is that something that doesn’t exist?????

  • mario walter

    Outstanding piece of history.Iam haitian my sister from santo domingo very humiliate to know some pp from santomingo think they withe,just lets u kwon guys no such u black or white is what u standing for before u died,love yr brothers yr sisters,helping build our society for a better future. That sade haitien do theirs part abolish esclavage they shoulb be a rewards for that great pp.Proud to be haitien.MARIO WALTER>>>

  • Hatuey

    As many responses highlight above, it is unfortunate that what amounts to a rather extended discussion of merengue (2 minutes and 40 seconds is a long time for a program running under an hour) features a foreign music genre for a soundtrack.

    The error, especially so early in the documentary, is off-putting. Not only did it make me question the validity of the entire piece, but it also made me wonder what other inaccuracies would go uncaught by the uninitiated, so to speak.

    I will note that I identify as a proud Dominican who is familiar with the national history and culture. There are other parts of the documentary that I have issues with, but I won’t get into those now.

    I appreciate that, in producing the “Black in Latin America” series, PBS and Dr. Gates have undertaken a complex work of hemispheric proportions. I also understand that there’s only so much Dominico-Haitian history that can be covered in 52 minutes. Still your viewers hold you to high standards and expect to see the responsible filmmaking that you’re known for.

    That said, I’d like to reiterate my thanks for your contribution to the scholarship on my beloved homeland and its valiant neighbor to the west.

  • Paul

    Thank you very much Prof ,but one thing I don’t understand is because I ‘ve seen only nice places in Dominican Republic while in the other side of Haiti the bad looking places only.Haiti has the most beautiful view ever if you go in Petion ville ,Port Salut , Jacmel, aux Cayes and more you will find what you have ever seen in the all world.
    I went almost every month in Dominican Republic ,there is places that human b should never live and Dominican Republic is one of the most misery country life is so hard I even try to understand how they made their living.
    Anyway the next Episode will be done by me cause I have so many videos of boths countries ,it probably take me time to put them togeter.
    Thanks for your view Prof

  • D. E. Rodriguez

    To paint a more accurate picture of racial relations in D.R., Dr. Henry Louis Gates did not mention the evolution in D.R. towards Black acceptance, and the fact the most beloved Political figure in Dominican politics was Jose Francisco Pena Gomez, a Black man of Haitian biological parents. If it is true that Dominicans still tend to “reject” their African roots (not an exclusive Dominican trait); it is also true that by loving and accepting Jose Francisco Pena Gomez as the most prominent and authentic Dominican leader cannot negate the evolution. In his presentation, Dr. Gates alludes to the lack of Black statues in D.R.; however, just as anyone drives to the urban center from Las Americas Airport, they can see a larger than life statue of Dr. Pena Gomez and throughout the country as well. The national University of Santo Domingo, as well, did unveil a bust very recently. If you want to see the interaction of Dr. Pena Gomez and Dominicans watch Videos 2 and 1 ( in that order) in the link below.

  • LRB

    Professor Gates, what a great shock to hear and not hear the correct histories of DR Haiti and Cuba>


    Wow to think I really believed you had your history right, you made no one but a few mistakes, and I will not tell you which one they are! RESEARCH, READ, STUDY MORE IF YOU ARE GOING TO SPEAK THE HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRIES!

    Thank you, LRB History graduate from Habana University 1967

  • Frank Manuel Fermín De Peña

    Finally got to watch this episode and I am quite disappointed with Prof Gates & the scholars involved in this program.

    Like many Americans, regardless of skin color, the ignorance conjured of racial identity issues within the Latin American community in regards to its strong African heritage is not a clear black & white subject as Gates poorly demonstrated on this documentary.
    Gates begins to lecture on the history of the Dominican Republic and opens up with a band playing Guaguanco while his overdubbed voice is discussing merengue. Guaguanco is CUBAN music and this error is likened to someone explaining the history of black Harlem and instead of jazz being played in the background rock n roll is substituted. One of merengue’s roots stems from PALO
    in which itself is a direct connection with Central and West Africa.

    Also, within this episode, Gates takes a peculiar focus on the Domincian independance day, February 27th, as an example of how Dominicans rejected their Haitian/African lineage however he fails to even witness the carnival atmosphere that occurs during the festival.
    Had he attended, Gates would have noticed all the colorful outfits of the “Diablo Cojuelos” along with other characters whose costumes bare a distinct correlation to West African celebratory attire. Any 1st year Africana studies freshman can easily have pinpointed that fact.

    The belief that many Dominicans are unaccustomed to accepting their African heritage is a known condition within the community. However, to produce an hour long program alluding that Domincan people do not embrace their African roots even though it is clearly embedded within its food, language, culture and music fails to tackle the complex issue and spreads even more ignorance from Americans and their perception of the Dominican Republic & its people.
    I expected more from prof Gates and I hope he can revise his viewpoints.

  • joao tavares

    Excellent program. A lot of material for the limited time. Just one observation about some comments; seems that some people from Dominican Republic question the fact that the Taino culture was not deeply explained in the documentary. The title of it is “Black in Latin America”. If some of you wants a deeper study on Taino culture would be good to request a documentary about it. Also, if some of Dominicans are proud to be descendants of the Taino culture, good. However, you know that you are mestizo, most likely you also are of African descent. Then, why not to be proud of what you are?

  • zago-lorag

    What about the tainos? The answer is that a vast majorie of them were destroyed by columbus troop. Of course few family would survivors this extermination, in the same way we have some haitians descent of the arawak. However, that notion the Indios is an excuse that Domincan use to pretend that they are not black. It is based on ignorance.
    This problem of caracter is not only belong to Domincan people, but is a problem that you would find in most latin amirican countries. I notice elite of latin american countries tend to associate themselve with European heritage, rather than their amerindian heritage. If you watch latin american television, you would see mostly people with european feature and not those of their real society. And even those who feel the ambassies are the same…

  • Jean W.

    Very well done! I can’t wait for the next installment! For all the people who keep mentioning the Taino, were there no Taino on the western side of the island? Taino, kind of reminds me of Black Americans who claim to have Native American ancestors; everybody has a Indian Great Grandmother (insert eyes roll smilie here).

  • tibeau

    Prof-Gates, you did a great job. Unlike some here who are not happy with the fact that Dominican Republic citizen have a problem of identity, they use all kind of excuse, the dominican republic countryman are descendant of tainos, whatever. Good thing, the professor let the four educated citizen from that country to talk…
    I hope professor gates’ next try is Brasil to see the Northeasten part of and compare it with the southern part of that country to expose their hypocracy. In fact, most latin american country treat their black citizen people as a lower class people. I wouldn’t say second class because of these countries’ structure are made as search: european features are class A, indigenous the majority of the population or if you will ( the amerindians) B and black spanish speaking C.
    I would even say the elite class or european feature of most latin-american countries tend to be very prejudice, but they hide it.

  • robert Saunders

    Much has been made about denying Black Ancestry, but why should anyone deny their white blood either. That’s the problem from my perspective. Prof Gates – is a Black OR White guy. One should accept all their heritages, after all you had no choice in your genetic makeup anyways. My wife is Dominican and doesn’t deny her Black heritage, her Spanish heritage, nor her Japanese heritage either.

  • Ronl

    [quote]Alfonso says:
    April 14, 2011 at 10:49 am
    I’m agree is Youseline, professor Gates doesn’t mention anything about the FIRST people who were living in QUISQUEYA (which is the real name of the whole island) the TAINOS. They were not white or black or any other “primary skin color”. They were wipe out of the world just…..BECAUSE.


    Just because your ancestors did so. I know dominicans always say the spaniards, but the spaniards were your ancestors, so please stop pointing at them.

  • Marsha

    Some people mentioned the Tainos as decedents of the Dominican people. History needs to be set straight…

    “It is uncertain how many Taíno were living in Hispaniola at first contact. Estimates of the population range from several hundred thousand  to over a million. Soon after Columbus’ return, more Spanish settlers arrived; and by 1504 the last major Taíno cacique was deposed during the War of Higüey. Over the subsequent ten years, living conditions for the Taíno declined steadily. The Spaniards exploited the  island’s gold mines and reduced the Taíno to slavery. Within twenty-five years of Columbus’ arrival in Haiti, most of the Taíno had died from enslavement, massacre, or disease.  By 1514, only 32,000 Taíno survived in Hispaniola.”
    -  Russell Schimmer, GSP, Yale University

  • Jean F Colin

    Our children in the Haitian Diaspora and our African-American brothers and sisters, whose civil rights struggles have facilitated our own development and growth in the US over the past 40 years, must now and finally tear down this ” Berlin wall” of racism and ignorance that makes up the artificial borders that have divided and isolated our communities for the past 200 years. Let us seize the moment!

    As we witnessed this senseless struggle in the Middle East over land and identity, let us rejoice in the Haitian and African-American Communities for this gift and that great location that destiny and fate has bestowed on our people. It’s now time to get smart and develop this beautiful island together in partnership with our friends and fellow Americans.

    Haiti belongs to all of us … our victory in 1804 has no greater meaning… Our HOME is your HOME !

    The Haitian Revolution provided us all, brothers and sisters of African descent in the Americas, with an oasis of universal freedom and justice to protect our bodies and souls in a very strange and different world. Now more than ever, Haiti needs all of us, as a united family, in order to guarantee her own survival in a global community that can hardly understand the reason for her existence.

    Let us begin the work today and build that new HOME that Toussaint Louverture had dreamed for all of us… and hand in hand, as one nation with a common purpose, serve and protect our fellow Africans in the Americas, especially our brothers and sisters within the walls of their artificial borders in Haiti, enjoy and develop with pride and dignity this sacred land that our ancestors and liberators have entrusted to all of us…

    Haiti needs and deserves an historical and international embrace
    similar to what Zionism has done for Israel.
    African-Americans and Haitian-Americans with a minimum knowledge
    and understanding of our common history in the Americas,
    can and should do for Haiti what the Jewish Diaspora has done for Israel.
    These two nations are identical except for our skin color.
    Why would our destiny be different?
    And, in addition, what a great opportunity for black people in America to change their status from Affirmation Action recipients to nation builders — like Gloda Meir in 1948.

    Yes we can and together we shall overcome!

  • Laurence Rawlins

    This was a very interesting and informative documentary. However I feel that it doesn’t matter if Dr. Gates is in Haiti or the continent of Africa, he will still carry with him his baggage. Countries are different, and language also defines a people. If you speak, English, French, Spanish, it will define how you see the world. His constant comparison of Caribbean experience to the U.S. I found annoying. The sad legacy of colonialism that lighter is better still exists in other parts of the Caribbean, and within Haiti itself. It still exists with in communities to some extent with in the African- American community. My problem with him is that he feel that “Blackness” should only be defined by American terms. A certain irony in this is that America usually tries to define the world in it’s own terms when it comes to foreign policy. I liked the series, but which he would have looked more at the nuances of cultures, rather than keep shifting the focus to his own point of view.

  • J. Luis Marquez

    As a historian, specifically a Latin Americanist, I can say without hesitation that Dr. Gates’ portrayal of Hispaniola is little more than postcolonial theory at its worst – a historical methodology which has its roots in the Marxist history of the 1960s and 1970s and which has largely been discredited by New Social History. New insights in ethnography and social history argue that, since race is a social construct, the Dominicans are the only ones with the authority to define their identity; if that is of mixed Spanish/Taino/African, then Dr. Gates has no authority to chastise them for their own self-description.

    Worse, Dr. Gates exhibits his ignorance of Latin American culture by wrongfully describing music that is of Cuban origin – the Son Montuno, as “Merengue”; the two musical genres are about as different as African-American spirituals and Appalachian bluegrass. Obviously, Gates has no knowledge of the Spanish language as he butchers as simple a name as “Trujillo” (pronounced Troo-hee-yoh). This is important for it signifies that he does not have a first-hand understanding of primary source material written in Spanish – a requirement of any scholar who professes to be an expert Hispanicist (Gates is, in fact, not a historian, but a literary critic, essayist, and African-Americanist). Stick to waht you know, Dr. Gates.

    No viewer should consider this documentary series as a serious historical work. It is merely Dr. Gates’ personal opinion regarding a subject of which he has little knowledge.

  • Reuben

    Prof. Gates; There is a very tiny line between facts and elaborated fiction of our minds, when history elaboration
    is at work, missing links are replaced with ideas contributed from few unreliable sources, I am from Dominican
    Republic, when you miss the most important facts of the Dominican Republic & Puerto Rico fundation of society, that lays in the Tainos people you are missing most of the true facts, before spanians invation of the
    caribbean Island, there was a firm indian society divided in five indians tribes–We still communicate with a lot
    of indians slang in the island such as (cassaba,mangu,maiz, etc.) please! find out the before and after if there
    is a continuation of your documentary there was a strong commerce between Tainos, Caribe from DR, PR &
    Cuba, find out about their trade and political involvement such as an Dominican Indian leader name Caonabo,
    Enriquillo, and Hatuey who took part in a leading revolution in Cuba against spain.

  • ShawandaB

    I found this documentary to be very informative. I keep reading, ” What about the the Taino’s?” The name of the documentary is Black in Latin America! I for one believe people can call themselves what they please. Hell, you can call yourself a tree for all I care. However, I do notice with people from Latin America, the denial of African ancestry runs deep. I heard everything for, ” Just because I have Black in me doesn’t make me Black!” The ones who are white will tell you ” Oh no, I’m White, not Hispanic!” It’s the distance they put between themselves and the people they came from. People from Latin America always claims American’s are so race obsessed and rigid. However, having over a hundred color categories on your skin color sounds obsessive to me. I found people from Latin America to be very racist, which is funny within itself! You the ones who claim,” White is something you can become!”

    Although, I’m Black American, I don’t look at people from Latin American countries and say, “Well, there Black because we look alike.” Let me explain, being Black and having African Ancestry

  • sanchez

    seems like some of my Dominican brother are confused on their history ..plz do the research.. TAINOS OF THE ARAWAK Nation migrated to Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, most of Cuba, and the Bahamas from the Caribbean side of south america…..guess where they migrated to south america from before hand????? … you guessed it the continent we call Africa…do the reseach ….we need to stop running from our blackness whether from the africans brought their 500 years ago or the africans that migrated there close to 1000 years ago

  • Frantz Germain

    Mr Gates this documentary was very informative and i personally think that every Haitians and Dominicans should take the time to watch it and also show it to their kids . Unfortunately you never mention in this important document the prostitution of the Dominicans women in Haiti while the Haitians men were leaving Haiti , to go cut the sugar cane in the DR .

    Thanks for your attention Mr Gates .

  • Jean F Colin

    Our children in the Haitian Diaspora and our African-American brothers and sisters, whose civil rights struggles have facilitated our own development and growth in the US over the past 40 years, must now and finally tear down the ” Berlin wall” of racism and ignorance that makes up the artificial borders that have divided and isolated our communities for the past 200 years.

    Let us seize the moment! Haiti is in good hands… we have nothing to fear.

    This new paradigm represents an extraordinary opportunity today to reinvent and redefine the Haitian Identity.
    And, if done intelligently and successfully, the consequences will be as liberating and as crucial as 1804 itself .

    This is an invitation to use the Kerner Commission Report as a guide and resources in your search for solutions as you begin this extraordinary mission of rebuilding Haiti’s infrastructure and civil society. Haiti and the black ghettos of America have many things in common and the level of poverty in our isolated and dysfunctional neighborhoods have the same historical and tragic causes and effects. More importantly, we have an outstanding opportunity in Haiti today to fully and completely adhere to and put into application the recommendations of the Kerner Commission and build a new and open society that will be the envy of the international community.

    Haiti needs and deserves an historical and international embrace similar to what Zionism has done for Israel.
    African-Americans and Haitian-Americans with a minimum knowledge and understanding of our common history in the Americas, can and should do for Haiti what the Jewish Diaspora has done for Israel.
    These two nations are identical except for our skin color. Why would our destiny be different?
    In addition, what a great opportunity for black people in America to change their status from Affirmation Action recipients to nation builders — like Gloda Meir in 1948. Yes we can and together we shall overcome!

  • Astrid Brunet

    Beautiful documentary on being black in Latin America as well as the Caribbean. Being an island born and bred Puerto Rican I appreciate the fact that Prof. Gates is trying to give others a glimpse of the idiosyncrasies of being black in our culture. I’m a proud quarteroon, my great grandmother being a direct descendant of slaves brought to the island; a gorgeous ebony goddess who married a white, blue eyed son of a Frenchman who had settled in Puerto Rico. Can’t wait to see the next episodes.

  • Astrid Brunet

    My bad, I’m an octaroon, not a quarteroon or quadroon. : )

  • angel mendoza

    hi. iam agree with juan d ramos. iam dominican american both of my parents are dominican native. 5 years a go i did my dna test. when i saw the comedian chris rock did his dna test to see from what part of africa hes from. because in 2002 i went to my fist family reunion. and saw all my family members. i saw all kind of races in family. so 2 months later my dna results came out. in the test dint said that i was dominican. it said that i was 60% white from galicia spain. (gallego) 20% arabe 10% black 7% asian 3% native indan taino. if you look at me you can see every race in me. iam proud to be multiracial. i put it this way dominican rep. is like egypt they are locate in africa but they not 100% africans they are most arabs. the documetary have a lack of info. if iam 10% black how dr. gate want me to tell avery one that iam black. like our founder father juan plabo duarte. the professor said that hes was mulato. juan pablo duarte 100% a white dominican his parent came from spain but the other were mulatos like sanchez y mella. they thing is. dr gates is looking this of his american piont of view. he said that all domincans are cosider black . dominican rep. it just like usa a multiracial country no one is 100% north american like no one is 100% dominican thats way i get mad when white people say african america. or latin american. huuh but they forgot that they came from europe so why they dont call them selfs euro american.

  • nzo.califa

    What a major undertaking to encompass 500 years of cultural dissonance in a matter of minutes…nevertheless, the piece was thought provoking, an educational refresher, some scholarly merit, but the most interesting are the discussions to date as a result. I trust from the impassioned whether, cultural pride, heritage, lineage or territorial that WE be mindful about healing ourselves from the vestiges of the oppressive forces left as residue by way of blood and the bloodstained; it is then that we can better appreciate each other’s humanity and avoid passing along the danger of ignorance laced with the byproduct of ‘isms- yet I am too conscious that in this day and age, there is so much access to historical information through technology, scientific [dna], revealing scholarly works and not to underestimate oral histories here and beyond i.e. Spirit, that there’s no room for denial!

    For when WE truly want to know better – WE CAN, and therefore BE better. -where do You stand today?!
    *peace and prosperity forward

    Grand respects with introspection Professor Gates
    and Production/ Research Team – support PBS!

  • juju angeles

    i wish this was in Spanish!

  • Ken

    I’m always amazed at how long it takes Americans to realize what their country has done to Latin America! BTW, the average hispanic knows that more Blacks slaves came to Latin America than USA. Also, he didn’t mention how, in the contrary to the US, in Latin America with all the negatives, Blacks, Whites and Indians sit at the same table, eat the same food, go to the same parties and dance to the same music!

  • Edward

    Why if you say that they play merengue…………….you play SALSA and not MERENGUE as you are showing that part? It gives a wrong impression.

  • Chris

    I have yet to see the documentary – eagerly looking forward to doing so. That said, it’s interesting that a large majority of comments from those of Dominican heritage here seem to continue to downplay the African roots of the Dominican people, which to some extent proves Gates’ point, no?

  • Mariluz

    I was quite curious to see another academic study regarding the historical and racial differences between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, but quite honestly, when I saw the first seconds of the film with such an elementary and inexcusable wrong fact “naming a Cuban “Son” as Merengue”, it left me more divided and disillusioned than the island!

  • Guy P.

    I completely understanding what everyone is saying about the Documentary. Most of what Prof. Gates explain is the truth! Haitians and Dominicans could of have the best and the most Intriguing history ever if there were a toghetherness between the two divided countries but ONE ISLAND! I am Haitian and proud, i have leaved in the United State all my life but make trips back and forth between the two countries but ONE ISLAND and have lots of friends between the two. I love both countries because we were one nation at one point and share basically the same history but because Haitians are mostly darker skin people the Domican do feel like they are more superior and seperates themselves from Haiti completely. When i go to the dominicans, i constantly hear the history between the two and they do acknowledge their wrong doings to the Haitians. One day it will all change because we will not stay where we are at, we will wise up and represent the 1st black nation to get their independence. Lets face it, were are a strong black powerful nation and all odds are against us because of our history and who we are! If we go back deeper into the Haitian History, you will see how we helped many other countries fight and get their independence as well and they still turn their backs on us. Prof. Gates told the story between the two countries 90% correct but 10% just need some revision!

    Thanks Prof. Gates you did a job well done!!!!!

    By the way Prof. Gates, i do own a Video Production Company, so if you ever need help shooting the second documentary i will be available, thanks!

  • Cooper

    Now, for most of the Afro Tinos in this side of the globe, the dynamics between DR and Haiti is far too common. Liter skinned blacks in Latin America have always think of themselves as honorary whites; that’s true en the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Panamá, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Brazil, Uruguay, Ecuador, Peru, and the list goes on. The true of the matter is, all of us should imbrase both our heritage, however, our European heritage is one that we should take the best part of. Not the part that reminds us that our ancestors were broth by Europeans to enslave them; that part should be condemned, and not use as a form of exercising superiority over the darker skinned Hispanic.
    All of us that are of African and or European ancestry, should create discussions on how we could better the lives of people of our race, instead of playing the skin tone issue against each other. And does that do not know the history of our people, should make it a point to find out, and not to rush to conclusion when someone like Dr. gates make a point of documenting some inequalities.

    I know for past and present experience, that when you research any history of a people, you compile thousands of material both written and images, however, if your materials for 10 one hour documentaries, you may only able to use a combination of that, to do a one hour documentary.

    It’s true the islands of the Caribbean were occupied by the Tainos, the Caribbs and other native; it is also true that the French, the Dutch, the English and the Spaniards brutally subdue these nations. By the time enslave Africans arrive, very little of their culture existed. Still today you could see some people of the Caribbean with indigenous features, but by far the Caribbean is mostly African and European.

    Let us celebrate our rich African culture. Does of you who think people will respect you because you are denying your race, are mistaking…

  • El Mayimbe

    yes Professor Gates, Dominicans, in general, are more hesitant to embrace their African heritage than our Haitian bretherens but had you gone to the carnival during the Dominican Independence day, as you focused on this episode, you would have seen the legacy of Africa and all its beauty.
    the african connection:

    Also, that was guaguanco being played by the band and not merengue.
    Kind of insulting when you’re criticizing Dominicans when you dont even know our music.
    ever heard of PALOS?

  • Hervé

    Caribbean race/phenotype and ethnicity, as it related to Haitian and Dominican is been examined. Hispanic Caribbean, people of mixed race every where compete with and emulate ‘the white group, both culturally and in physical appearance. This social construct positioned the Dominican above the Haitian in the island’s racial/color/class hierarchy.The negatives and positives of Haiti’s geo-political history are stressed as nationals of a decadent failed Haitian state find better living conditions in the DR. Cross-cultural/transnational interaction and activity have intensified new distinctions developed based on real or imagined differences; differences between Haitian migrant and Dominican are valorized to legitimate prejudice, agression and justify privileges. The exotic Domican sex worker in Haiti is acclaimed and the Haitian migrant worker is vilified.

  • kimba

    The island of hispaniola is one land mass divided into two different countries. So to those dominicans stating what happened to the taino’s, in regards to their geneological makeup, I say its a big attempt to deny the african blood running through the veins. Isn’t it logical to say that if taino’s were part of the make up of the dominican people, they would also be part of the makeup of the Haitian people as well? After all the taino’s didn’t just live on one side of the very big island, i’m sure they were all over that island. This is typical of the dominican attitude that they are indeed different from the hatians ethnically because they have this indian blood. There were many islands of the caribbean that also had taino indians as well, but overwhelming evidence shows that the taino admixture was not as much as the dominicans are saying. Most of their brown complexions are from the African background they are trying so hard to hide. They share the same make up as the haitians, but make a concious effort to lighten up their bloodline.

  • Antonio

    Juan Pablo Duarte 100% a white dominican : no such thing not even a 100% white Spaniard in Spain. Spaniard are a mixture of southern local europeans tribles, arabs, blacks and asian. Race as white is a social construct in 2011.

  • Kingchi

    I am Dominican, born and raised, my father and all of my paternal family are Chinese, my mother’s dominican… but nevertheless I am a Dominican… like me, many others…
    It is true that you grow up in a society where ‘white’ is better, nobody wants to be black…. and the small percentage who are ‘white’ and have last names like Bonarelli, Vicini, Montes de Oca, are because indeed their grandparents or great grandparents immigrated to this island, just like half of mines. Yes dominicans in fact are a mixed race, but so are the americans, french, germans and any other country that has to deal with immigration today. This documentary it’s about being black, that’s why the emphasis on the pride of Haitians being black, most of the Dominican population IS black or mulato NOT indian! And yes! we deny being black…. I don’t think we should be talking about race in this day and age, but understanding your history and were you come from it’s what’s important .
    I agree that the complexity of this issue is too deep to explain in a short documentary…. but I think it gives a really good overview about how it is between dominicans and haitians… even if the music wasn’t merengue.
    Good work!!!


    wow !!! finally.

  • Erika

    Not really sure why everyone’s so excited about the documentary since the issue of race-relations in Hispaniola has been talked about to exhaustion. It began over 15 years ago when the Dominican Republic began receiving massive uncontrolled immigration from Haiti (non-batey), and the country’s attempt to control it. Ever since then (and the Pena Gomez presidential fiasco), I cannot count the number of articles/opinions/documentaries that have come out made specifically to convince Dominicans that they are in denial of their Blackness and must help & unite with their Haitian counterparts. It’s obvious to the naked eye that we Dominicans have African heritage but the culture we practice Hispanic, pure and simple. If you want to know what mixture made you what you look, like, take your DNA test and don’t go by what Afro-centric (or Euro-centric for that matter) professors tell you.

  • ines

    para mi todos son uno, dr y ahiti. o.k.

  • Tammy Reynolds

    I am so happy that this documentary was done. A prior comment was left by Guzman who stated that “the african used to do the sugar cain labor after the spanish kll all of the tainos”. This statement is not entirely correct. Based on many readings I have done on this subject matter, there were still Tainos on the land when early African slaves were brought over. They all intermingled one way or another – the Europeans, Tainos, and Africans. As for the prior comments left by some, “Dominican” and “North American” is not a race nor a color. To be North American is not to mean that one is one color or another. There many ethnicities. Keep up the good work Dr. Gates.

  • Joel

    FELIX…..This idea that Dominicans refuse to accept their African heritage is the most stupid thing , I have ever heard, We know very well that 70% of Dominican are mixed (Mulatos) which means ..1/2 blacks and 1/2 white, 11% blacks and 16%of white and others . The difference between Dominican and Haitians is our culture, we got our Latin culture from Spain, Just because we don’t go around doing African dances and celebrating African beliefs and religions like Haitians do all the time, Doesn’t mean we deny our past and our looks. Our Dominican culture is rich in African influences, from Music, food, dance ,history everything..But we can not deny that we are Latinos . We don’t see ourselves like ” WHITES”.. But we don’t see ourselves as ” Blacks”..we are mixed and we are proud of that, we have ,Black, white, Arab, and Asian culture in our people, Haiti is a country that for 200 years has kept itself very pure with its African blood and culture and for years didn’t allow foreigners move in to own land in Haiti , which kept them from mixing with others, The DR is different, we have always welcome people from everywhere, making our culture diverse and nature different from Haiti, and because of outside help and migrations our Dominican culture have evolve very differently from Haitians, From language to music, to the way of thinking. We are different, but that does that mean that we deny that we are blacks, Mulatos and others.. we are proud of who we are. Haitians in DR are victims of their own history of violence,hate, invasions, murders, and decades of attacks against Dominicans, we suffered a lot under Haitian rules, they tried to erased us from the map, they outlawed Spanish in our own country, which already declared it independence from Spain in December 1st, 1821, But they did not care about that, they saw an opportunity to invade a weaker people ,take our resources, in other to pay France, the big debt they had for their independence. After years and years of our people suffering, rape, murder, torture and the thousands expelled from the island just because they were White Dominicans of Spanish heritage. That’s the reason for the dislike between Dominicans and Haitians….When a country is abused by another is hard to erase that past from their mind. The idea that Dominican do not get along with Haitian because of their black color is a lie, Dominicans did not have any problems brings blacks from other island, like the people from San Pedro de Macoris.. Why did we get alone with them even if they are as black as Haitians???? Because they never tried to kill us at the beginning like Haitians did… And to deny that fact of our history is to deny the truth. Its not discrimination or denying our African heritage… Its the violence that Haitians brought to us , that is still fresh in the mind of many Dominicans, Mulatos, Whites or blacks..we still remember what Haitians and their supporters want to erase fron History. The day Haitians take responsibility for their crimes is the day our relationships will start to change, accusing us of Racism while we are the country that help them the most cause even more hate between us, cause we see it as being ungrateful and that show those negative feeling between us are still alive.

  • Max A. Joseph Jr

    Those referring to the Tainos are Dominicans who refuse to acknowledge their Afro roots and prefer to be called Indians. As many commentators have mentioned, the story is about Blacks in Latin America not the history of the countries they inhabit. Some people just don’t get it.

  • Adjae

    Hey people of Dominikani wake up, the racial policy of your country is a shame for the caribbean. Them who cry on their Tainos ancestors, Haitians too have Taino ” blood ” .

  • Laurence Rawlins

    This was a very interesting and informative documentary. However I feel that it doesn’t matter if Dr. Gates is in Haiti or the continent of Africa, he will still carry with him his baggage. Countries are different, and language also defines who people are. If you speak, English, French, Spanish, it will define how you see the world. Dr. Gates constant comparison of Caribbean experience to the U.S. I found annoying. The sad legacy of colonialism that lighter is better still exists in other parts of the Caribbean, and within Haiti itself. It is my understanding that the ruling elite in Haiti have the lighter skin. It still exists within communities to some extent with in the African-American community. My problem with his perspective is that that “Blackness” should not only be defined by American terms. A certain irony in this is that America usually tries to define the world in its own terms when it comes to foreign policy. I liked the series, but wish he would have looked more at the nuances of cultures, rather than keep shifting the focus to his own point of view.

  • Paula

    A word about the DNA tests/evidence:

    Comprehensive testing that looks at all nuclear genes is very valid in this discussion of how much Taino racial heritage a population has, whether it be Haitians, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, etc. (Tainos also lived on Haitian land– but you do not see Haitians claiming to be Tainos as Dominicans do).

    One of the comments above mentions mtDNA testing. The results from research examining mtDNA has to be taken with a grain of salt. Not only does our mtDNA account for a very small percentage of our DNA, but it is only passed down from mother to child. This means that if you had one single female ancestor who was Taino, even if the rest of your ancestors where Black and/or White, your mtDNA will show to be Taino. This by no means shows that you have more Taino genes, or “blood”. Most, if not all your other genes, those that actually code for things like the color of your skin, your facial traits, your body composition, etc, will be the heritage of people of other races–definitely not Tainos since they have not existed for so many generations.

  • james murray

    Only in the united states which is the true name of our country do you have this labeling of biracial people. A drop of black blood you are black. All the people in North and South America are all Americans. But The United States has taken the name for themselves . Much like the blacks of the United States are taking other races of people and claiming them black.If it makes you get over you inferority complex be my guest. A dna test should be in order or leave it alone. Latin Ameircan folks come in all blood types. but they share the same cultures mostly. truly enjoy each other company music celerbrations ect.. Disgruntle United States blacks like the proffesor i spelled it wrong should get their own house in order. That stuff your putting out there perpetuates problems that most people of all races that
    are in harmony enjoy each other stopped listen to in the ninties. So put the lid on the barrel of crabs and climb in there with them. Misery loves company. Ps I am multi flavored also. but I am not gonna DIS any of them for you. I love them all.

  • Jairus H.

    I think that every body who keeeps bringing up Taino Culture needs to understand that this documentary is not about the history of the the island, it is about the African presence on the island.

    It is true that many Dominicans have Taino heritage. However, the focus of this video is about African History.

    Dr. Gates has the right to choose what his documentary is about. As long as the facts are straight, the focus is his choice…..

    I’ve been to the Dominican Republic 12 times, and have noticed that a lot of Dominicans would prefer to explain their color as White/Taino instead of White/Black. They don’t want to be black….

    Ok, maybe the Guira is a Taino instrument, but what instrument sets the beat of merengue? What instrument is the heart of merengue? La Tambora!!!!

    Africa is the heart of Dr/Haiti.

    The average African American has white heritage, but our main heritage is African!!!

    Dominicans need to embrace it…..

    The majority of the famous dominicans that are successful are the black ones….(except for Oscar De la Renta)


    Professor Gates, let me first thank you so much for the work that you are doing and sharing with all that would have an ear, wanting to know. Professor Gates i’m 65 years of age and there is so much that i do not know about black history, mostly my fult, but last evening when i viewed the Full Episode:
    Haiti & the Dominican Republic: An Island Divided In the Dominican Republic, I was just amazed to all that you had revealed in that episode, rich,rich so rich, i also viewed the web site as well and really found it to be very informtive to say the least, i’m share this with my family and friends that have no knowledge of this. once again thank you very much.

    Ed Fleming

  • Goosey54

    It was a very good piece, very well done.

    Looks Like Sammy Sosa has bought into that whole idea Hook, Line & Sinker.
    He has bleached his skin and put some type of perm/hair straightener in his head (all in an attempt to hide his Black Ancestry) He looks like Eddie Munster and a darn fool one at that! I recall Charles Barkley coming out in white make-up at the TNT Awards mocking this travesty. LOL It wasn’t nice but it was funny and they’re big boys…

  • Tricia

    I knew nothing abouy the Hati people expect that they do Vodoo, however after i watch your program i was so boom up and wanted to know more, i appreciated the fact that they copy everything that others african countries did, it made me realize how noble of a people they are and am learning more about that wonderful nation and inspirational to all african countries, love your work and all power to you and your team. keep it up for we the new generation that knows nothing about our history and ancentors….gud work!

  • Kiskeyano

    Ok – gets a C+, as opposed to an A (in terms of letter grade). The fact is that this study failed to immerse itself into Dominican culture as much as it did into the Haitian culture – focusing more on historically sensationalized conflicts then relevant facts. I happen to be Dominican of Haitian ancestry, and proud of both with no reason to uphold one versus the other. One thing that was not mentioned for example is that the reason we are not one country today is NOT based on race, and in reality NOT based on religion, but rather based on the fact that the Haitian government (in its efforts to pay back France) was taxing the Dominicans so heavily so as to threaten the economic livelihood and the quality of life of Dominicans, enough that a revolt was necesary to remove ourselves (Dominicans) from the burden of paying back a debt that was not ours. The Dominicans at first WELCOMED being a part of Haiti and the haitian soldiers faced little to no opposition when they first arrived. The horror stories that one hears on the Dominican side for the most part are post-war fabrications and propaganda designed to separate us (hati against DR) and that also served to create/manufacture a distinct Dominican identity. Anyway, good try, has some merits, but missed the target!

  • Jose

    One thing he failed to mention is that a large segment of the Dominican population is of Haitian ancestry. History, slave and migration records support this. DR imported relatively few slaves and as is well known, when the sugar economy collapsed, not only did they stop importing slaves, the population became more and more mixed with a ratio of around 1 black to 1 white. Haiti on the other hand imported 774,000 blacks to less than 100,000 white French, most of whom were killed. Following the Haitian invasion, the land on the Dominican side was redistributed and a huge number of Haitians particiapted in taking up the reapportioned land. Net result is what you have today a predominantly black (95%) DR nation. If not for the redistribution, DR would have been at most 50%/50%. What does that mean in practical terms? It means that even though we ARE Dominicans (y con orgullo), the fact remains that for most or rather a great number of us, there is Haitian blood in our lineage – be it 2, 3 or even 5 generations ago – it’s still there! And when you really put aside the propaganda and race politics, we are more ‘one people’ – more homogeneous than the American experience BY FAR. We are black brothers, even if one is a little lighter than the other.

  • Mangu

    Too negative against DR. Yo soy dominicano and I love haiti. Haiti is and will always be a part of Dominican history and culture in the past now and forever. That is a fact! We are stuck here on this little island. We’re both poor, even though haiti’s present condition is beyond compare. And yes, we both black. We have both been used and abused by colonial powers and the mere fact that many of us discriminate gainst haitianos on the basis of their skin color (just like they do among themselves by the way) is a symptom of the disease that we both suffer from. En realidad, although my opinion differs from mainstream DR, i strongly believe that the DR can NEVER be as strong and whole as it can be without a strong haiti, and vice versa. I am not saying we should unite (although i have nothing against it…. it is one continuous tiny spit of land.. makes sense if it acted as one) but what i am saying is we are like conjoined twins. Beyond race and culture, whether we choose to admit it or not, we are connected in ways that one cannot survive without the other, or better said we would better thrive if we implemented a solution wherein our mutual successes were assured.

  • diane

    I am glad that Professor Gates is focusing on this subject. Many people seem to think that all latinos look like J Lo r Gloria Estefan or Giselle and not darker skinned individuals.

    However, I do take issue with the statement that Dominicans are white. From what I have read over the years the majority have African ancestry. Most believe that Blacks in DR make up at least 90% the population. So I believe it is a mischaracterization that one the reasons for any tension between Haiti and DR is because Hatians are Black and Dominicans are White, as one of the interviewees on the first episode suggested. I am a little surprised that Gates let that comment pass without challenging it.

  • tuttysan

    I am a Dominican-American who came to the US at age 18. I can tell you that before coming to the US, I never understood the meaning of the term racism or racial tension. It’s one thing to hear friends call each other ‘negros’ in the DR while laughing, another to notice how blacks and whites in my small Ohio college in 1994 did not mix. This saddened and terrified me. Say what you will about the Dominican Republic, the way Dominicans view race is NOT comparable to the way Americans view it. And when it comes to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, you were comparing apples to oranges.

    Your documentary somehow suggests that Haitians have embraced their African roots, while Dominicans have not and makes it seem like a bad thing that Dominicans acknowledge their mix in race and culture. I assume this view has roots in the American way of calling people of mixed race that have any black in them simply “black”, as though nothing else was part of their racial make up… as though being mixed was a shame. Well, we don’t think it’s a shame Mr. Gates. Dominicans, as you know became independent from Haiti – which at the time was imposing big taxes and unfair rules onto a population that neither spoke French nor wanted to be part of the new Haitian Republic. The Dominican anthem, which you didn’t allude to, also talks about Dominican’s refusal to be slaves to any foreign power, Haiti included: “Quisqueya, indomitable and brave will always hold its head high… for if it were a thousand times enslaved, another thousand it will know how to liberate itself”.

    I also take issue with your taking time to talk about merengue, all the while showing a “son” song (closer to salsa) that Francis Santana and his group were performing. If you’re going to talk about merengue, at least have some merengue to play. You failed to mention the religious-musical tradition of Gagà, practiced in many small towns in the Dominican Republic and fomented by the National Folkloric Ballet among other cultural and art institutions. The big fear of Dominicans to Vudù has a lot to do with the Catholic Church and its prohibition of this practice, painting it as sinful – perhaps savagery because of the animal sacrifices and the supposed use of ¨black magic¨. This might have been a reason to ¨fear¨Haitians when we were little. This has changed.

    Perhaps a documentary about the Africans roots of Latin America is best left to a Latino. I do not believe any American native (black or white) has the perspective, experience or view of race to adequately present this topic without taking unnecessary sides.

  • Erick


  • teo santiago

    Dear Professor Gates.
    I hold a master degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from Boricua college in New York city. I am also a native Dominican residing in New York City. After viewing your documentary on PBS, I have only praises for an extraordinary piece of work. It is important that work like yours is introduced not only to the Hispanic community, but also to the Dominican and Haitian communities as well.

  • Ivan

    @ Jarius H: Right on!

    Perhaps, just as interesting is the question of Argentina and it’s history concerning enslaved Africans and their descendants. It is often mentioned that Argentina imported far less enslaved Africans than its neighbouring countries. It was reported that once upon a time, Argentina’s population was 45-50% black African, however in 2011 there is less than 15,000? and little or no significant contribution by these people to speak of in Argentine culture? Many stories were told and many more theories are abound. What is the truth? Lots of questions… Lots of questions…

  • Jorge Baracutei Estevez

    Thgis documentary is indeed about the Black portion of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. But the reason why many keep bringing up the indian is because Dominicans have a long history of Identifying with this portion of their ancestry. To exclude the Taino is the same as excluding or denying the African component.
    Say what you will about DNA but the fact is that it is there and it is sub-stantial.
    That said DNA does not make one Indian or African for the matter. Culture and genes are two different things. I cannot say that all Dominicans who have Indian DNA are Indian, but if thats the case then one cannot say that just because you have black genes that one is black.If you really want to understand Dominicans consider this, As black as Dominicans may appear to some, our Spanish contains hundreds of Taino words, from place names to every day phrases. In fact in the Spanish Caribbean in its totatlity there are over 3200 Taino words in use. If you compare how many African words are in Dominican Spanish with the Taino you would find your self on a short stick, there are not many African words in Domincan Spanish. The fact that we have retained so much of Taino material culture and yes the DNA, does not suggest that the Taino became extinct as many would like to believe. This is why so many repeatedly bring up the Taino. Dominicans have been identifying with the Indian since the colonial period. It appears that many on here afre suggesting that Dominincans suffer from mass delusion and are simply not smart enough to know there own culture and history. So even though our material culture, planting ways, significant Taino language traits, basketry, casabe making, the multitude of other attested Taino customs and DNA are present, many posters here want to just ignore this. This is the heart of the problem when trying to understand Dominican Identity. It is complex and it is up to us to determine what we are and not outsiders.

  • Ivan

    I enjoyed the piece very much.

    Now, Argentina and the question of the near disappearance of a people, black Africans and their descendants who once comprised of approximately 45-50% of the population of Argentina (reportedly). Now THAT’S INTERESTING.

  • Brenda

    What happened to the Indian Influence? What was Haiti and the Dominica Republic before the import of the African Slaves? A good piece was left out.

  • Hugeaux

    Yet another attempt. These documentaries rarely existed Pre-Earthquake.
    Now everyone wants in. Where we these documentaries before the earthquake.
    In fact, some people (all races) were afraid to visit Haiti before the earthquake.

  • Trinitario

    As expected, an overall shoddy piece of work which merely repeated some of the false (but frequently parroted) myths about the Dominican Republic, its people and its history. I’m not sure how any unbiased person, be they an academic or regular layperson interested in factual information, couldn’t tell from the get go that Haiti would be given the much more balanced and favorable review. Just look at the timeline they list for Haiti and DR and some very important dates are missing, as well as some outright lies about Trujillo. The usual romantizing of Haiti and demonizing of DR with gross oversimplifications, spinning of history, and the usual ethnocentric exportation of US racial views. I recommend all to read Dr. Akurang-Parry’s critique of Gates in reference to his westernized (US) ethnocentric views which greatly handicap his understanding of ‘Africans’ which will help some here understand the gist of what I’m saying (co-flating, mixing and confusing American racial concepts, Haitian and Dominican ethnogenesis and nationalism and skin color/social race, etc.)

  • Lorena VH.

    I’m so glad that this documentary was done. Very important topic indeed. As a college educated Dominican this has been the topic of discussion in many of my dialogues. I believe that Dominicans are unique and should embrace that we are Africanos, Tainos Y Españoles. But I do believe we have more African heritage than anything else. And even when Dominicans try to negate it, it lives within us, in our music, our culture, our skin, our hair…etc.

    There is definitely a lot of racism in DR as there is in many parts of the worlds. There is definitely preference in color, whiteness/shades. Sometimes I get mad at this but I also understand that this was what was taught to a lot of Dominicans. Many political leaders have tried to “whiten” the country. We don’t just share an island with Haiti, we share HISTORY AND CULTURE.

    Embrace our heritage, its beautiful and unlike any other. We are a beautiful mix of amazing, rich cultures.

  • tuttysan

    I’d like to add in response to Juan D. Ramos that in the DR, “negro” is a term of endearment and you use it to call people you love regardless of their color. You would have to live it to understand it Mr. Gates, that you can’t can Dominicans’ feelings about race and call it what suits you.

  • Lorena VH.

    In response to Jairus H.

    Your comment is the truth!!

    “Africa is the heart of Dr/Haiti.
    Dominicans need to embrace it…..”

  • GiGi

    First of all, Thank you Nala. Some people hear and see what they want. More coverage was done in Haiti because of it’s place in History. I think with the negative view of Haiti it was necessary. There are good and bad on both side of the island. I know by first hand travels to both. But it was nice to see him mention after the earthquake how DR jumped in before anyone else to help Haiti dispite their cultural differences. This was notable.
    He did a great job. Racism among colored (Black and Mixed) people can be touchy. It forces you to be responsible for your actions. I’m looking forward to the next few episodes.
    Good Job!

  • Jerry

    You guys gotta stop goin back and forth about who’s black and who’s not. I feel if he’s gonna make a doc. About my country D.R. He should make everything clear!! It doesn’t matter if the main focus about african culture in D.R. Everybody knows that…but u can’t leave missing links because like we can all see..there’s some people being mislead about Dominicans thinking we are racist against the black race, that’s the last thing that shit be thought of. I see it like this…..Dominicans aren’t black nor white, etc….Dominicans are a mix of taino and spanish, some also mixed with african and french….that’s what we all are now….some mixed wit more of one than the other which is why we have soo many shades from pale to tanned to very dark skinned Dominicans. So NO we aren’t “Black” No we aren’t “White”….we’re beautifully Mixed with a few races…dats wat make us DOMINICANS!!! Nothing more, Nothing Less!!!…..just saying…

  • KeeKee

    The Dominicans don’t need to come here in the US if they are gonna bring more racism and prejudice here. We don’t need NO MORE of that here. Its sad though, because they are depriving themselves a VERY RICH heritage. They are beautiful people with RICH AFRICAN BLOOD running through their vains. They need to be proud …VERY proud. Nothing to be ashamed of. We all have unpleasant info about ALLLL history.

  • K. Nunez

    It was a good documentary; However not many things were said about the Dominicans. I can tell that your main focus was to perpetrate Dominican Republic’s people as racist and unaware of their own heritage. Further more it is to my concern that the richness in history that Haiti has, Dominican Republic poses. Also, each nation has lead their people to what they are today. By trying to forget so badly about slavery Haiti condemned its people to poverty and suffering.

    I really hope for the World to be more Humanize and think about how equal we all, in spite of the fact of color, religion, nationality, values…

  • Wilberto

    It is sad to see, but was expected, all the Dominicans concern about Taino indios heritage not being mentioned in the documentary. It just shows how deep the African denial is among Dominicans. LOL! The indios were mentioned in the piece as non-existent and used by Dominicans today as a way to dilute their mostly African blood. Probably most strongly by the 15% white dominicans who ardently don’t want their country to be seen or known as a black or Afro-latin nation. They’re like their late dictator Rafael Trujillo who used to put white powder on his face to whiten it. LOL! Or more recently Sammy Sosa. Dominicanos, don’t you realize the WORLD is laughing at you? Must you always come to the U.S. to realize your blackness?

  • Georges Exceus

    This documentary is long but worthy. This is about a reality of the island that every Haitians and everyone involved with situations in Haiti ( including Bill Clinton and the self called friends of Haiti) has to understand. No fusing of the two islands is even possibble

  • sandra m

    It was refreshing to see a view of Haiti that goes beyond the poverty porn seen on most media outlets. Thank you, thank you, Prof. Gates for “telling it like it is” as to how western powers consistently undermined Haiti’s development. In the seventies, Haiti was self-sufficient in rice production. That ended when neo-liberal policies relegated Haiti’s place in the new world order to sweatshops and handouts. Anything better, western powers label “socialism” and move to quash. Lastly, I was intrigued by the gentleman from D.R. who said he found out he was black when he went to New York. I suspect that is a common experience among people from D.R. who come to the U.S. Their experience-how they became black-would make an interesting documentary.

  • Ulises Jorge Bido

    Jean W. Says:

    “Very well done! I can’t wait for the next installment! For all the people who keep mentioning the Taino, were there no Taino on the western side of the island?”

    Yes, they were Tainos on the whole island. Prof. Gates does not explain the main reason why the island was settled by two european power (Spain and France). The Spanish crown did not want its subject trading with their enemies, and to prevent that in 1605 governor Antonio de Osorio order the depopulation of the western part of the island.

  • Anita Quinto

    Dear Professor Gates,

    Thank you so much for this wonderful work. Just a little observation that you might want to know: As a professional musician, I feel compelled to clarify that the genre of music that the band is playing in the opening scenes is not ‘Dominican Merengue’, it is a “Cuban Son” (a completely different genre that comes from Cuba). Even though the musicians are clearly Dominicans, it is very unfortunate that the piece that they happen to be playing in the documentary, is something other than a “Merengue”. The information explained by the musician interviewed is accurate, but by having a completely different genre playing in the background as he talks about “Merengue” might misinform people that wouldn’t know the difference between these two. There is indeed a very big difference between “Cuban Son” and “Merengue Dominicano” not only in it’s instrumentation but in it’s feel. To illustrate how different these two are, it would be rather strange to see a documentary that talks about Blues and having a funk band playing a tune by James Brown in the background.

    Thank you very much!!!


  • Lina

    Yall Dominicans need to start embracing our African Culture. But, I don’t agree with some parts of the video. I think the Dominicans don’t just view themselves as Europeans (although there are a lot of people that are very ignorant and think they are Europeans ) Well educated people understand and embrace their race. I was taught while growing up that mostly everything; our music, dialects and much more comes from Africa . I was born and raised in the Dominican Rep and i”m also a Teacher in the United States. What we need to do is promote and educate people about our culture. : )

  • Carlos Felipe King

    This was the first time I have ever heard anything official about our bloodlines being directly connected to Africa. It’s amazing and glorious!!!!!!. As a dominican it was long overdue. We are black and beautiful!!!,

  • Tina

    Although I respect the effort made by Professor Gates and everyone else who him helped to make this documentary in honor of the entire island, I am disappointed in the repetition and recycling of terms, or phrases which I find dominates the image or perception of Haiti.

    Why is it that the country must be considered rich only when one talks of it’s possession by the French? Why is it only valuable when it is the “”? That is a very negative mentality. I say this because although Haiti was considered rich by the French during colonization of the island, it’s likely that the people who wrote these things about Haiti had never seen the face of the island and were only reaping the benefits of the hard work of slaves, benefits of income from the sale of sugar. The video is misleading in that it drives viewers to believe that Haiti looked different than it does today. When I think about that, and I get myself to try to travel back in time to visualize this richness, this gem that they keep referring to Haiti as, I see lots of green yes, the green of plantations, but I also see lots of Black; the slaves working their ass off to produce this sugar cane, to make the sugar, that would eventually be exported to the rest of the world. So no, I believe that Haiti was not rich, France was rich, France’s slaves were making it rich. Haiti itself and it’s people were poor, oppressed, and suffering. That is why they had to revolt, that is why they fought back mercilessly, madly killing all who stood in the way of their freedom and independence. Haiti, in my view is only rich after having gained it’s independence, because for the first time, it owns something, it owns itself, and it’s people.

    Below are some typical phrases that you CANNOT miss in any coverage, study, or report of anything related to Haiti.


    1 Poorest Country in the Western Hemisphere

    2 Devastating earthquake that shook…

    3 Nothing prepares you for the devastation in Port-au-Prince

    4 Tents with no electricity, no running water, no sanitation

    By the way do you all realize that this necessity of electricity and RUNNING water seemingly lacking in Haiti is first and foremost measured on an Euro-American scale of richness/necessity?? We, as human beings in general do NOT need these things to freaking survive, although they are useful, before they existed the world ran just fine. Advancement in one part of the world does not mean that the rest of the world has to follow lead. I tell you now, no electricity, and no running water, and this lack of sanitation that is used to measure Haiti’s poverty is unfortunate, and misleading. Here we are in the U.S. complaining about the overuse of water, and electricity in individual homes, which in the end turns out to be a negative impact, something to struggle against. We are racing to slow ourselves down here in the U.S. and yet hypocritically we continue to measure another country’s wealth based on those same attributes. They SHOULD NOT necessarily be working towards building the same type of state, and system which we are now living on in the U.S. because we are no better, and they would only be joining us on a route to some possible ultimate demise; let’s face it as a RICH country we are sucking the fucking earth dry. Haitians should instead be re-building themselves and the country with alternative ideas, and looking for different resources in order to become a self-sustaining state, but one that is not dependent on WASTING the earth’s resources. (I am very touchy about this subject, sorry for the rant and to continue with our list)


    1 One can see the courage and resilience of the people

    2 Quoted from the above video about Haitians “desparately attempting to rebuild their lives.” Seriously, in any country this disaster happens to, would people just sit there and not go on with their lives??? Would they not be hopeful anymore? Would they really just quit and sit and watch as the days go by? Tell me what country has ever sat down and done nothing, and not been resilient and courageous in the aftermath of some disaster to their country, city, or people? Quit labeling Haiti, really dig deeper for the positivity that you wish to show the world, Haiti is rich with it.

    3 Fast-forward to 25:25 and 29:30 in the video: How dare anyone use today’s image of Haiti and compare/contrast it to France’s historic image of Haiti as a way to “make up” for what Haiti is/looks like now? The past that Professor Gates brings up should IN NO WAY characterize Haiti, and we as Haitians although we are proud that our island was so rich in that it was able to provide for “half of the world’s sugar” or that it was “the jewel in France’s crown”, or that it was “the pearl of the Antilles”, we must begin to cleave ourselves from that history. There is no pride in being the TOOL and or SLAVE of a nation no matter how great of a tool or useful of a slave one was. Pride is in ones own sense of self, as a people and a nation. We must create something more to be proud of, something that we ourselves have ordained, that we OWN, something that we are proud and WILLING to have provided the labor for.

    4 Richest country in the entire new world

    5 Unthinkable historic revolution

    My question to this statement is unthinkable to whom??? Not the Haitian slaves certainly who made it thinkable to the rest of the world, who made it a cold REALITY to France, the United States, Great Britain, and Spain? No the Haitian Revolution was not unthinkable to Haitians. It was unthinkable to those who under-estimated the capacity, strength, boldness of the slaves on the island, and the generals who organized and rose up against them.

    In conclusion, I am not discouraging informational videos like that of Professor Gates, because in all honesty for those who do not know ANYTHING about the Dominican Republic or Haiti, it is very useful and eye-opening. However, for those who have reach a deeper level of understanding of this island, I challenge you to give me something different, videos and coverage like that of Professor Gates’ documentary have been exhausted and recycled, and are now drilled in the minds of the rest of the world, give them something different to think about. I am taking on this challenge myself, after watching this video I’ve actually come up with ideas for different projects in Haiti that I plan to pursue. When it come to Haiti, I WILL break from this cycle of coverage that has been provided by the rest of the world.

    Thank you for reading.


  • Emmanuella

    As someone of both Dominican and Haitian heritage, I see both sides of the coin. Too many people forget that the prejudice that exists between the two nations based on skin color i.e. Haitians looking more African while Dominicans should look more Euro not Indian-aborigine (distinction). The major issues lies in the constitution of Haiti and in the history of DR. In the Haitian constitutions anyone of non-Haitian descent or white has no political clout and can not own land essentially meaning the more African or Haitian you are the better. If we look at the DR’s side, i.e. the Trujillo heritage, the closer you are to looking Caucasian the better. unfortunately many individuals still believe in both of these policies til today. Guess what, we eat the same food, guess what if you listen to kompa or meringue they have the same melody, guess what the religions are the same, there are very slight distinctions that separate these countries but people want to act like it is night and day because they speak two different languages(don’t believe the hype). No one says anything when a Portuguese speaking country and a Spanish speaking country are compared (why?). I speak both Spanish and french and am proud to say that I am an African-Latina-American. Being of Latin heritage is not a race but an ethnicity, the USA has made it so difficult for people to be able to establish that criteria. The term latin, latina, latino is a fairly new word that is so confusing that the meaning is lost. Haiti and DR share the island called HISPANIOLA, but Haiti is always excluded as a Latin country. I love my Dominican heritage unfortunately I find that because of my darker skin others have disowned me but have accepted others in my family who fit the bill of being called latin. Not fair. We do this to ourselves and we need to stop it. Race, ethnicity and all of this is ridiculous

  • Frantz Germain

    Mr Gates this documentary was very informative and i personally think that every Haitians and Dominicans should take the time to watch it and also show it to their kids . Unfortunately you never mention in this important document the prostitution of the Haitians women in Dominican Republic while the Haitians men were leaving Haiti , to go cut the sugar cane in the DR .

    Thanks for your attention Mr Gates .

  • Leonardo Benzant

    I applaud the work of Dr. Gates, it is a good documentary and i don’t think he meant for it to be comprehensive but rather a thought-provoking introduction of both D.R. and Haiti. i was born and raised in Brooklyn NY and through my parents i have inherited Dominican-Haitian ancestry. Fortunately, i grew up aware of my blackness, i had to work at it and i was blessed to have good teachers around me, yet, i experienced subtle rascist attitudes from my own Dominican people: things like bad hair (pelo malo) and other things. i think Dr. Gates put it mildly about some Dominicans being uncomfortable about their blackness. In my experience most Dominicans i have known negate African ancestry even though most of the culture is African-derived. i want people to reflect on the fact that Dominicans as a whole speak in an African syntax that uses the vocabulary of the Spaniards in addition to some Taino as well as plenty of Kikongo words. This means that like in African-American jazz the rules of the music and the dominant elements and aesthetic of strong rhythms are derived from an African aesthetic even though they borrow the vocubulary and the instruments of Europe. It doesn’t make it European music. See, Dominicans and alot of blacks in the New World get seduced into thinking that they are whiter b cuz they see the surface and not the underlying structure, for example, in Afro-Cuban Santeria you have images of Saints like Santa Barbara but i laugh cuz that is only a mask for the most part, what is really behind Santa Barbara is Chango the African orisha/deity, and this is the kind of dynamic throughout the African diaspora that is misleading and can make Dominicans think they are something that they are not, in fact many if not most Dominican i know would not identify with being a part of an African diaspora. So brain-washed are we?

  • Stephanie

    Great Documentary! I am a light-skinned African American female who has lived in the Dominican Republic. ( I classify that so you know where my experience comes from because it makes a difference in the DR) I have a love-hate relationship with the DR because while studying there, it was a traumatic experience to see my darker African American brothers chastized, stopped at military checks, and denied entrances to clubs. Also, to see police officers doing nothing but terrorizing college educated Haitians, accusing them of beng ladrons or thieves and cocking guns at them for no reason. Then to hear my host family call every black person on tv “feo” or ugly” and every blond white Mexican beautiful…These things were just painful. But on the other hand, Dominicans have this flavor that is very similar to African Americans…they love loud music, have swag, love to dance and have rhythm, eat alot of chicken, and are usually friendly (unless you are dark skinned). I have been to every nook of that country and saw very few white people. (Even the Brugal family wasn’t white.) Most were light brown (my skin complexion) and darker with a few mestizos.

    Taino..please. They were mostly killed before the 1600s. Yes, they left names of things behind. But they themselves died. Maybe they mixed with a few people but the chance that a Dominican nowadays is Taino is like 1%. Come to Colombia where there are real practicing indigenas walking around and fighting for their rights and oppressed more than blacks daily. Then, I’d believe you.

    But Dominicans, are a varied mixture of black and white, by and large..just like African Americans. It’s fine to admit your Taino but it’s definitely a minimum component of your background. Dominicans are by and largely black and they only realize it when they come to the US…how the rest of the world sees them.

    And please stop calling Spain la madre patria or the Patron mother because Spain hates you! Spaniards hate Dominicans. Ask any of your brothers and sisters who live there how they’re treated. How do I know this? Because I have African Americans sisters who have lived there and they were chastised, and treated like prostitutes because the Spaniards thought they were Dominican. Or how about how Spaniards trick Dominican women into going to Spain and make them into servants and sex slaves. So please, get over that one.

    Also, we must remember to seperate race from nationality or ethnicity. Being black means you are an African descendant…but you could be black and be Latino or asian or African or American. You can be black and be Dominican, Colombian, American or Brazilian. They are two different things. Because we all know a Jamaican, an African American and a Ghanian are all black but come from totally different nationalities and cultures.

    @Jean F Coulin, I was thinking the same thing when the earthquake struck. I would love to see a collaboration between African Americans and Haitians to make Haiti a prosperous nation! I think it could be great if done correctly. The problem is so many African Americans are ignorant to traveling and other languages. Bridging the language gap is a problem but I do think that rich African Americans need to start investing in Haiti!

    A few critiques:
    1. Even I know that that first song was not merengue and definitely not merengue tipico.
    2. You forgot to mention Samana, where thousands of African American freed slave descendants migrated in the 1820s due to the help of the Haitian government and still live there to this day. For anyone who wants information on that, watch my documentary.

  • Jennifer Estrella

    I am ecstatic to see this work broadcasted here in the United States, and for perhaps European viewers as well, that uncovers the highly counter-intuitive facts of the races that make up the Latin American culture. It is easy for American education to encompass an entire ethnicity under the umbrella of the Latino label and for its learners to generalize the make-up of the highly varied Spanish-speaking nations of the Americas. Being Dominican-American myself, it is unfortunate for me to say that my American upbringing and education has not adequately (if at all) educated me about my culture and ancestry. I was fortunate to grow up in the Bronx, New York and take on a bilingual education that by luck in the third grade enabled me a Puerto Rican teacher who felt it was important one day in our history lesson to incorporate the story of the Greater Antilles’ rich racial ancestry. I grew up PROUD to inform everyone (Americans and Dominicans themselves) that I am made up of a beautiful mix of Black, Spanish and Taino Indian culture.

    I find Professor Gates’ research amazingly put together yet I feel as though the stress on Dominicans’ rejection of their Black heritage was not sufficiently profound. Yes there are political factors such as the reign of Trujillo that very much so created a collective consciousness of race among Dominicans against Blackness, yet I feel that today a Dominican’s self identity is not explicitly a rejection of their African heritage. I feel it should have been more stressed that the dominant Dominican identity is that of being mixed and perhaps this mixed notion might’ve diluted Black pride as well as the other factors in our racial makeup. I should be noted that Spanish heritage has been abandoned too as we’ve adopted the term Latino instead of Hispanic. The notions of race amongst Dominicans are not exactly of relevance when it comes to defining their identity because racial consciousness is not so much inculcated in the Dominican people as it has been in Americans. Naturally, Gates would try to look into this coming from an American background where race is a more tangible notion in society, but as the anthropologist he interviewed said, it is not until a Dominican comes to the United States that they are stricken with a sense of self race identity. In America, the census requires us to check a box that describes our racial makeup. In the Dominican Republic we are simply all Dominicans of a mixed race.

    I was very much stimulated by Gates research in Haiti though. It is refreshing to see a more positive perspective on the upbringing of this nation. Especially recognizing them as the first Black liberated nation of the New World. Strong people these Haitians are. I was glad to hear that the relations between the DR and Haiti are less opposing in present-day. I would also like to clarify, some of the resentment between the two nations in history was compared to the ideas taken on in America by whites towards blacks…perhaps a closer similarity of the DR and Haiti’s relation would be that of America and Mexico with the immigration circumstances.

    Overall, I am elated to watch Black in America! two thumbs up :)

  • Luz

    Horrible, just horrible. What a biased piece full of misinformation. First of all that was NOT Merengue played during the documentary. If you can’t get a simple thing like that right it is no surprise that the rest of the documentary was full of errors. Professor Gates you should be ashamed of yourself.

  • Jose Lopez

    The entire documentary was flawed. From the very beginning when Dr. Gates mislabeled the music as merengue, I knew that this man had an agenda. The agenda is to find out who is more African in Latin America. Or in better terms, who other than the African Americans is aware of their african roots. The bias towards the Haitians over the Dominicans was so obvious. So what if Dominicans are less aware or not as afrocentric in their culture than Haitians or in Dr Gates mind, African American. I would say that Dominicans are more african in culture than African Americans. The music of DR is so african, that the beat can be found in other Caribbean black cultures. From the Calypso in Trinidad, to the Bomba in Puerto Rico. Also if the African Americans are so afrocentric, why don’t more of them adopt african names, instead of the ghetto names like Shaquanda? Why don’t they grab on to a tribal link and become Yoroba or Ibo, or Ga? Why not scar their faces and bodies as some tribes do in Africa. Dr Gates describes the horror of 15 thousand haitians slaughtered crossing the river back to Haiti. In the Haitian segment the slaughter of Haitian whites is some how ok and justified? What a double standard. Dr. Gates attacks the Dominicans for whitening themselves, whether by culture or skin makeup, but I grew up in a black american neighborhood where relaxing the hair was fashionable even to this day. Where a Black american pop Michael Jackson whitens his skin. Where Black professional athletes marry white women. Where lighter skinned black american women are prominently modeled in Jet and Ebony magazines. Where terms like yellow banana, redbone, highyella, abound in the black american community. I hate to see how Dr. Gates will treat Afro Puerto Rico, which I identify with along with my Spanish ancestry. Dr Gates I would like for you to remove the splinter from your African american eye before trying to remove the splinter from your African cousins in Latin America. As far as I can see Dr. Gates, your “I’m more African than you Dominicans” attitude was very very white of you. Next time be a little more sensitive on how cultures develop, and do your Caribbean music research also, its Merenque not Salsa or Son.

  • Elver S.S.

    Dr. Gates,

    Thanks for your efforts in the first part of your series of Black in Latin America. I look forward to watching the rest of the series.

    This piece does however fall short of the PBS standards of producing impartial and factual documentaries. As some comenters have previously mentioned, some of the data you provide might not be accurate or questionable and one-sided opinions abound.

    You injected yourself into the story by providing comentary thru the hour long segment that appears to be your pesonal opinion. If this was your intent, it perhaps could have been more effective to do so at the end of the segment and clearly articuating that it is your opinion.

    Some of the academics and experts you interviewed tried to passed their personal assestments of historical events as factual. I can’t question the veracity of their comments as I’m not an expert in their areas, but they did not provide referencing materials that I can use. This was a sadly wasted opportunity.

    If your intent again was to get opinions from experts, you should have made that clear at the begginging of the segment. If you intent was to provide a historical view of how we got here (which is what I was hoping for), then you should’ve provided more reference materials and when opinions where given, provide a credible and valuable discening point of view.

    On a side/tangenial personal note, I would be considered black in the USA if it were not for the fact that I was borned in the Dominican Republic, where I’m considered trigueño. Growing up there (upto the age of 12) I did not think of racism nor can say that I experienced it. My extended family consists of all color variations from Scandinavian white to South African black. Thus I was excited when I heard you in Talk of the Nation (I think) talking about this series and that I would get an opportunity to learn something new about my history. I did learn in this first episode, but not to the level I expected.

    Thanks again for your effort.

  • Elver S.S.

    Dr. Gates,

    Thanks for your efforts in the first part of your series of Black in Latin America. I look forward to watching the rest of the series.

    This piece does however fall short of the PBS standards of producing impartial and factual documentaries. As some commenters have previously mentioned, some of the data you provide might not be accurate or questionable and one-sided opinions abound.

    You injected yourself into the story by providing commentary thru the hour long segment that appears to be your personal opinion. If this was your intent, it perhaps could have been more effective to do so at the end of the segment and clearly articulating that it is your opinion.

    Some of the academics and experts you interviewed tried to pass their personal assessments of historical events as factual. I can’t question the veracity of their comments as I’m not an expert in their areas, but they did not provide referencing materials that I can use. This was a sadly wasted opportunity.

    If your intent again was to get opinions from experts, you should have made that clear at the beginning of the segment. If you intent was to provide a historical view of how we got here (which is what I was hoping for), then you should’ve provided more reference materials and when opinions where given, provide a credible and valuable discerning point of view.

    On a side/tangential personal note, I would be considered black in the USA if it were not for the fact that I was born in the Dominican Republic, where I’m considered trigueño. Growing up there (up to the age of 12) I did not think of racism nor can say that I experienced it. My extended family consists of all color variations from Scandinavian white to South African black. Thus I was excited when I heard you in Talk of the Nation (I think) talking about this series and that I would get an opportunity to learn something new about my history. I did learn in this first episode, but not to the level I expected.

    Thanks again for your effort.

  • Rich

    I’m neither of these nationalities discussed though I am a member of the same race described as black despite the self hatred displayed by many in the documentary. I havwitnessed the self hatred amongst many blacks through out the African Diaspora . Friends and acqaintences darker than me and they all cling to their slave masters identity and culture because they hate and disrespect their great great great great great grandparents who were African. Spaniards and the Portugese were barbarians just as their other European brethern who participated in the enslavement of Africans. The embracing of the spaniards by African colored ie blacks in latin America or anywhere blacs embace the slavers shows white supremacy worked. This self hatred is why the psychological effects of the maafa will keep blacks spanish, french, english speakers from evolving and growing beyond the lowly position we have held for so long. Love all black people even if they dont love me or love themselves. I love and honor my beautiful black african grandparents/ancestors Frat Gates good work.


    La nación dominicana no es racista. Puede que la ignorancia de algunos, como en todos los países del planeta, sin excepción, los haga discriminar a otros por su condición de minoría o de pobres, no por el color de su piel. La mitad del pueblo del dominicano es negro. ¿Despreciamos entonces ala mitad de nosotros mismos?
    Yo amo al toda la humanidad, Judíos, españoles, argentinos, haitianos, africanos y un largo etc. Pero, amo a mi nación, también. Todos los estados del mundo tiene políticas migratorias claras. Si se expulsa a los haitianos no es por el color de su piel, es por su estatus de ilegal. Es muy conveniente disfrazar la deportación legitima, de ilegales haitianos con el racismos.
    Acaso, ¿es racista Estados Unidos por controlar sus fronteras y deportar a los mexicanos ilegales o a cualquier otro latino?

    The Dominican nation is not racist. Perhaps the ignorance of some, as in all countries of the world, without exception, do discriminate against others for their minority status or poor, not by the color of their skin. Half of the people of the Dominican Republic is black.
    Then, we despise the half of our people?
    I love to all mankind, Jews, Spanish, Argentine, Haitians, Africans and many more. But, I love my country, too. All states of the world has clear migration policies. Haitians are expelled not by the color of their skin, their status is illegal. It is very convenient disguise lawful deportation of illegal Haitian with racism.
    Is racist United States by control its borders and deport illegal Mexican or other Latin?

  • Sherita

    As film maker raised by a Dominican mother I have to say:

    Everyone can make a film as a form of expressing themselves who can get the funding BUT I am baffled that PBS would air this piece as a DOC when there are enough inconsistencies starting out with the guaguanco as a merengue. Airing this as factual, talks to why there are so many confused, misinformed, identity complexed Carribean people. Our DNA speaks about where we come from but the truth is its time to look at where we are heading as one human race to save the planet.
    And Thats IT!!!!

    @Marsha Thank you for informing the misinformed about Taino extinction! So sad that so many do not know the truth due to books and documentaries with inaccurate data. So for those that didn’t know now you know. I had a bisabuela named Emesteria with two long black braids and smoked her puros and was real live TAINA.!!!!

  • Ebonie W.

    Superb! I am so inspired to learn more! I knew my heritage was so diversed and so influential! But noe so much in these areas! It is true; knowledge is powerful! I applaud you Professor Gates! I was so eager to get to work the next day to share with my students and coworkers what I had learned. It made me prouder to be Black! Black is so beautiful! Many of my students are Mexican and Dominican. Viewing this documentary enable me to expose my students to their own heritage and to show how we all are related in some shape, form, or fashion. Thank you so much!

  • Chris

    Only wish this would have been a longer special.

  • Y. Vargas

    I’m very happy that Dr. Gates took the time to go to our island and open people’s eyes to it, BUT, no matter how open minded I wanted to be, I could not help but to feel that is was “one sided” or very close to being one sided. Many of the arguments stated in the other comments above are about tainos not being mentioned, those who say tainos were extinct by the 1500’s, those who say dominicans are black because having black in you makes you black. That we as a people are not proud of who we are. On the taino topic, it is fact that they existed, were there before ANYONE else, black or not, and obviously our mixed culture originated with them. As they were killed off and slaves were brought over, more racial mixing occurred, hence the meaning of MULATTO.

    As for the rest of the documentary, I wished equal time could have been devoted to showing how there are as many dominicans that are proud of their mixed culture as our haitian brothers are. Everything on the haitian part of the documentary seemed to have such a positive air about it, the same could not be said about the dominican portion. I completely agree that racism and ignorance is absolutely horrible, but to a ask a people to embrace one of the races that makes them who they are and call themselves just that (black in this instance) is asking them to shun their other side. Why not ask them to fully accept their mixed heritage and treasure each component equally. I understand (as I’m sure many will point out again) that this documentary is about black in latin america, but more could have been done to show how the presence of the black roots mixed with others and made us look and be a diverse people. I personally embrace completely who I am, and by looking in the mirror I know there is more than just black, white and/or taino in me (I am always confused for arabic or indian). Since the main focus was about the haitian people and their being proud of who they are, maybe the dominican part should have been left out, since nothing positive was going to be said about the actual mix and the beauty of it. Things in life are not just white or black, there is also grey, and THAT is where we fall.

  • D. Sanchez

    THANK YOU JAIRUS!!!! Professor Gates covered differences between DR and Haiti without explaining the intricate and often neglected details of the Dominican heritage, which in part is also Taino. Though I’ve would love to hear the voices from the out skirts of Santo Domingo mentioned, 50min of a documentary is not enough to explain that part of Dominican history. The Tainos resided in the Island of Hipanola for a short amount time, enough time to make an effect on the dominican heritage. But let us not forget, as most Dominicans often do, even in my own family, that we are a mixed raced, Taino, Spanish and AFRICAN. And though he did not mention the small details of our Taino ancestors, he pointed out the lack of AFRICAN pride in the Dominican culture and where it comes from.
    It IS TIME TO EMBRACE IT. We are beautiful. We are one.

    Thank you for this video.


  • Antonio

    PBS has the best programs. other tv station will not have such documentary, especially one that tells the truth about the U.S response to Haiti and its support of dictators. i loooooove pbs program.

  • Tori

    I am of Haitian and Dominican decent but has been raised my grandmother who is a black Dominican. Watching this was like hearing her retelling me about the true history about both Islands. I embrace my African roots greatly, and I believe that we are beautiful and that we should be proud to have African roots all the time. I’m proud to be black and I’ve been to both the DR and Haiti and you’ll notice that color comes in a variety over there in both countries. I thank you so much Dr. Gates for putting this informative information out there so that people can see what they don’t really put in the books!!!! Merci Anpil Professor!

  • Niils

    Many thanks for this great job! God bless you, Skip Gates!
    Now that thisjob is done, the question is how activits within the Black diaspora are to start theirs. There is no excuse whatsoever anymore for not seriously tackling the real issues people of African descent at the dawn of the 21st century are still facing in the Western Hemisphere.

  • Ritz R.

    Excellent and informative. Very well done! I can’t wait for the next in this series. I hope Puerto Rico gets its due portion of this excellent Black/Latin history. According to the historians, the first free African man Juan Garrido came to the island in 1509. He was a conquistador with Juan Ponce de León. Garrido the son of an African king and was born on the West African coast. In 1508, he joined Juan Ponce de Leon to explore Puerto Rico. He fought with Ponce de Leon to repress the Caribs and the Tainos who had joined forces in Puerto Rico in a great revolt against the Spaniards. We knew then as we know now that we have AFRICAN blood in our veins. Que viva mis hermanos negro.

  • Mother and daughter

    I totally enjoyed this documentary !!!!!!!! My daughter and I have gained a great amount of knowlegde and respect the haitian culture. Thanks professor Gates for putting this all together.

  • timarasa

    I think it is very interesting how quite a few posters on the board keep raising the spectre of claims to taino legacy that is so much a part of dominican culture & society (whether biologically, linguistically, etc.) HOWEVER it’s not like the tainos only lived east of that arbitrary line demarcated by the french and spanish through the 1697 treaty of ryswick. they occupied the entirety of the island and influenced BOTH cultures on either side of that line; the word “Haiti” itself is taino, and there are other vestiges of the that legacy in haitian creole, certain foods &/or food preparation, and even in vodou itself (some of the veve symbology). the overlap in contact of the tainos with the european colonialists and african slaves was fleeting in the grander scheme of time, but it was enough to leave an imprint on both cultures to varying degrees. So for one side to have more claim on taino heritage than the other is absolutely ludicrous to me. What is even more ridiculous is to completely forsake (or have “selective amnesia” about, whatever you want to call it) the african forebears who made one of the largest contributions to the dominicans’ ancestral and cultural heritage. Like when the man described where “son” came from: he could talk all day til the cows come home about the spanish guitars, but what about that contrapuntal 3/4-time rhythm? i’ll give you only one guess where it came from…

    Overall really loved the documentary! Me being american-born of haitian parentage, i’m vaguely familiar with the long history of US intervention (i.e. imperialism) in haiti and french reparations; but had no idea haiti doled out $1 billions-worth (adjusted for modern inflation??)! just absolutely mind blowing! the only thing i wished is that the portrayal of intra-race relations was more nuanced and thorough for both sides (but i guess it would have made it a 2-hour documentary instead of one :o ). Very interesting to hear other commenters mention that santo domingo does NOT equal the rest of the dominican republic concerning how those dominicans who reside away from city centers reconcile their african and other identities. not sure if other posters mentioned this but colorism is alive and well in haiti too. from early on there were many mulattoes who had marginally better social status than the african slaves under the brutal french system of “le code noir”. these same mulattoes or “gens de couleur” filled in the power and social vacuum the french left behind in the wake of the revolution; and were sometimes pulling the same bullsh!# (that they learned from their french masters) on the black masses. to this day it may be said that certain birds of a feather flock together…

  • Guy B. Lalanne

    Shame on black people, a 1000 years, 500 years, 100 years after slavery and right now the year 2011 black people are still relaxing their hair and bleaching their skin.

    By Lalanne Guy ·
    Slavery is alive and well, as a former slave myself I find it disturbing that there are people who are still practicing slavery. I spoke against that type of slavery in Haiti in July 1997. Enslaving someone is an evil act, slavery is evil.

  • Guy B. Lalanne

    It’s unforgivable to omit modern day slavery being practice in Haiti right now (Rest-Avec). otherwise Good work Professor Gates.

  • Guy B. Lalanne

    The omission of modern day slavery being practice in Haiti today (Rest-Avec) is unforgivable.

  • Ina

    The color alone of a person’s skin does not determine who he is.What Dr Gates presents is a very Afro-centric African American view about people of color in the Dominican Republic.
    Fact is the only traces of being African left in some parts of DR today maybe skin drums…because this very Catholic spanish speaking country embraces the Cultural legacey of Spain..
    Unlike the Haitian Dominicans do see themselves as African people but as Spanish people some.
    A Dominican in Haiti is like a fish out of water,

  • Inaru

    The color alone of a person’s skin does not determine who he is.What Dr Gates presents is a very Afro-centric African American view about people of color in the Dominican Republic.
    Fact is the only traces of being African left in some parts of DR today maybe skin drums…because this very Catholic spanish speaking country embraces the Cultural legacey of Spain yet it is also 17 – 30% native Taino.The Taino culture predates all others and it is unfair to say as one person stated in the film that Indio is being used as a way to negate the African identity.
    Unlike the Haitian Dominicans do not see themselves as African people but as a people with a diverse cultrual heritage.
    A Dominican in Haiti or in Africa is like a fish out of water,

  • Elvin Ferreras

    im dominican and dominicans are black no matter how light skin you are. dominicans always want to say that their brown skin comes from the tainos and thats bs, they don’t think or they want to deny the fact that its just the racial mixture of black and spanish people over the years, i’m not saying that some taino blood might be there but probably almost none the problem with dominicans is that they got a complexity problem they proud of the spanish heritage but the ashamed of the black one as you could see in the coments they even proud of the taino heritage that’s why they always bring it up trying saying that their brown or black skin come from the tainos and not the blacks. Some dominicans will tell you that they are just dominicans like if dominicans is a race or the majority in the northern part aka cibaenos will say that they are indios or whites even the blacks from the capital will say that they are dark indians only a few dominicans will recognize that they are black but i’ll say 90% of dominicans won’t recognize or will admit that they black and that’s a damn shame. Ya proud of the spanish ancestry that killed the tainos stole the land,enslave the africans (aka) your black slave ancestors that bust their asses for free for some evil m…. f…..and you not proud to be black like if black people were the ones that did all that evil s…… I think they should put a statue in la puerta del conde of toussaint louvelture and dessalines cause they didn’t only free the slaves in haiti but the also free all the uncle toms white wannabees, black denying complexity problem having niggas in the dominican republic. and that racist s… still going on in the dominican republic that majority of the people are black even tho they call they self indian or white but they still get deny access to places where only european tourist or the few white% of dominicans get access to and that’s real talk. voy a hablar dominicano ahora porque yo no soy de epana yo hablo dominicano no epanol a lo dominicano deberia de darno verguenza de negar la raza negra de la que venimos como lo ancestros de nosotro que pasan tanto trabajo gracia a eto mardito blanco se sentirian cono de saber que uno lo ta denegando yo se que yo soy mezclao pero a mi la raza que me da verguenza representa e la blanca por lo degraciao y racista que son mira como tienen a la jente de nosotra acompleja de ser negro cono quitense ese complejo cono y representen que la familia de nosotros nuetros ancentros vinieron en barcos encadenao no lo nieguen cono eso e como negar a los abuelos de uno esa division de haiti y republica dominicana es una division racista cuando los hatianos invadieron a la republica estaban matando a los blancos que tenian a los esclavos jodio y matan a lo negros que ya taban de chopo y de lambones de los blancos como todavia existen hoy en dia en la republica dominicana que aya el tumba polvismo el calienismo y el lambonismo siempre a existio……… black power represent

  • Akinpelumi

    Hello professor Gate

    Thank you so much , you just got me Crying all day. Seeing Africans in other countries i don’t really cherish what i have, my heritage and growing up in Africa and having my families all around. i just love me more.

  • Odile Perez

    Thank you, Dr. Gates for this insightful documentary.

    This piece of work is eye-opening and helps us understand the whys of our current reality in both Dominican Republic and Haiti. You have done a wonderful job in covering in just 51 minutes some many issues and history.Thank you also for sparking debate about matters that we hardily ever discuss because of ignorance, fear and simply because of denial.

    I hope you can do a sequel as of course there some much more to uncover, reveal and learn about.

    I am looking forward to watching the rest of the series- Black in Latin America.

  • Donna K

    I watched the program with delight, but I have one comment.

    When the reference to music was made in Dominican Republic was noted as Merengue, the correct style is actually called “Son”, which is a fusion of Spanish guitar and song, with percussion of African origin.

  • KS

    I believe Gates had taken the well traveled path in documenting the historical conflicts between Haiti and Dominican Republic, particularly on the subject of race. Viewing relations on this island through that lens of difference and tension is too simplistic and unfortunately too common. Gates could have explained the many shared customs of the two countries in terms of food and music, rather than exploit a charged issue. Gates should have described that tension of race even among Haitians and how during the early years of Haiti’s revolution the mulatoos and blacks fought viciously amongst each other before uniting against the French. He could have also outlined how before DR was occuppied by Haiti, it was briefly named Spanish Haiti, which is a a Taino. In short, Gates has overlooked too much and as a result, this documentary is really not insightful at all. Please wow us next time by not exploiting our passions. And just like DR, Haiti has taino influence- graj (guira), cassava bread, yuca, and corn and Haiti was one of original taino names of the island.

  • Jersey Sam

    Maybe the the term “indio” is in part to negate the African heritage but, in making that statement, you can not leave out the important fact that that word embraces the Iniginous people, who were the Tiano. Hence the multi-colored skin tones.

  • Kenol David

    This documentary ought to be very interesting to the Black/White and Latino Americans who know very little about Black history besides what they see on CNN or MSNBC or the other major news networks and at the very best enlightening to the Dominicans who are either honestly confused or in complete denial about their Black racial heritage. That said, there’s a lot more Black history to both sides of the Island — one Island. Being of Haitian descent, I’ve always considered both sides to be one of the same. The Dominicans and the Haitians are both hard working people with similar goals for their nations, chief among them are unity and prosperity. In fact, Haiti is one of DR’s number 1 trading partner, if not No. 1. Also, Haitians are benefiting from many of DRs institutions, primarily in the education factor. What I think is desperately needed is an honest reconciliation initiative to work out the differences between the myriad misconceptions that exist between Haitians and Dominicans. This effort ought to be shepherded by the responsible and conscious leaders of the two nations. Haiti can learn important lessons from the DR and vice versa, whether it be historical, social, economical and literary.

  • Yudelka

    First of all Dr.Gates, the start of the documentary began with a big mistake. A mistake about our music, Merengue, a major national pride! Since you took the liberty to tell the world about us Dominicans, you should have definitely done better research and made sure that during the editing process ‘things’ were synchronized. The music being played was NOT Merengue, it was Salsa/Son! This made me doubt the entire validity of what I was about to watch next. I found most of the rest to be extremely biased and mainly based on opinions rather than facts. You should have travelled to Santiago, Moca, Bonao or Ocoa to name a few places where you might encounter a totally different group of Dominicans.

    I am very proud of my mixed ancestry. I do not believe that by one saying ‘I’m mixed’ one is negating the blackness. (If that is the case one would also negate the whiteness, ‘nativeness’, etc) I look at myself in the mirror and I do not see black, or white, or taino…I see a true mixture of these three…which is what makes me a Dominican! Because I have lighter skin I am considered a ‘white’ Dominican by many (just an example of that is that recently I got stopped by a cop (Caucasian by the way), got a traffic ticket, when I got home I noticed he had put “white’ as my race – talk about confusion! lol) . I love the fact that I have African in me…I love African culture! As a matter of fact I am married to a ‘black’ Dominican (if you want me to labeled it) and I’m happy that my kids will definitely have and physically show the blackness that to someone’s eyes I lack!

  • BroncoJet

    In response to Felix.

    We as Dominicans have to recognize that a part of the Dominican culture is shaped by the African ancestors, but there is something that we can not ignore and this is that our main roots come from the mixture of the Tainos and Spaniards before they brought the African slaves to the Island.

    Other than that, the documentary was pretty much straight forward on what Prof. Gates wanted to focus. And this is to Prof. Gates, that if they are divided is like any other countries sharing the same land but with almost totally different cultures.

  • jamestmurray

    I dont earn a living by beating a dead horse and balancing the retorts in my favor. If you can convince these people they are totally black . why dont you start at the top. i am sure you could find some black blood and most anyone. Donald Trump perhaps. The Rothchilds perhaps It was easy back in the 60s dealing with downtroddin sharecroppers leading them north. with no education no plan lapping up the money with the bogus orgs. store front church ect..and doomed to years of welfare and frustration without a plan. with your degrees from Harvard. and personality I am sure they will fall in line. I can smell the money whoo wheeee. Some where over the rainbow there is a inkwell. my mistake jesse has the rainbow.

  • la rusa

    I may not agree with everything Dr. Gates says, or even the way he does his research, but please remember this series is called Black in Latin America, not EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT Black in Latin America. No one-hour – or even four one-hour – segments is going to contain all the information/history about the topic. Even acknowledging the African heritage in some countries, like Mexico and Peru, is going to be new information
    to a lot of people.

  • Mariana

    I see many questions revolving around the Taino heritage in Dominican people. Although this documentary does not negate the fact that there are dominicans with amerindian heritage this documentary is about people of AFRICAN descent/BLACK latinos. The taino blood in Dominicans does not NEARLY match the amount of dominicans with african blood. More than 1/2 of all amerindian people in the caribbean (arawaks, tainos etc..) across many islands were wiped out by the early 17th century by genocide, suicide, and disease. I suggest Howard Zinn’s book A people’s history of the Unites States for informaiton about Cristopher Columbus and the first explorers….it may make people think twice of holding him and other spaniards in such high esteem. My mind is boggled that people believe they have more Taino blood in them when they’ve been virtually extinct for the last 350 plus years than african…it’s not the end of the world. Good job professor Gates- I believe it’s improtant for people to embrace all aspects of their idneitty that make them who they are.

  • Haitian Canadian

    Those arguing for an Afro-Taino Dominican Republic versus a “purely” African Haiti forget that Taino, Awarak and Carib culture run deep in Haiti too. In fact, the name of the country “Haiti Boyo Quisqueya” is in Taino. And in Voodoo, the non-Western religion, many of the gods and rituals are of Taino origin. So Haiti is as Taino as the DR! And both DR and Haiti are African!

  • Leonardo Benzant

    Dr Gates did a good job at introducing another point of view of blacks in D.R. and Haiti, my heritage is Dominican and Haitian, i was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, personally speaking, i was blessed to understand that i have an African heritage, it was intuitive, instinctual, learned through books but also i had people around me to point it out and show me things that i needed to see, in my experience most Dominicans i have known have had the tendency to deny and negate and or feel ashamed of their blackness and African heritage, it was always so frustrating for me and still can be because, a great many Dominicans don’t acknowledge or identify themselves as being part of an African diaspora, they are so quick to claim Spain as the motherland, but even the way Dominicans speak spanish is very Africanized, its rhythms, syntax, cadence, tones, even many of the words are derived from the Kongo,

  • Rene

    Unfortunately, it’s true a lot of Dominicans and some Haitians are in denial of their African heritage. Even if you can tell they are physically pure or mixed they rather negate it. Most Dominicans rather say they are of pure Spaniard descend. This psychological complex was brought by the Spaniard’s Caste System, “If your not Spanish (European) like, you are not worthy.”

    Dominicans think that Black is African and Brown is Indio (American Indigenous), meaning that Black doesn’t apply to them. Which is false, today in the island (La Hispañola [Haiti/Dominican Republic]) there is no physically presences of Indigenous or Mestizos like there is in Mexico, Peru, or Colombia. In some point there was indigenous people in the island but a lot of them died when Spaniards/French conquered it. Most of the indigenous people on the island died of diseases brought by the Europeans, the others killed themselves refusing to become slaves to the invaders, and the ones that didn’t obey, the Europeans kill them. The indigenous people that did survive in the island were very few and likely married with the Spanish colonist. Most of their children were then Castizos (75% Spanish/25% Indigenous) and part of the Iberian culture. When the Africans arrived there wasn’t any existence of the Taino culture.

    Today, Some Dominicans have different shades of Brown skin color like Tan (Bronze), Cinnamon (Canela), Olive (Moreno), and Wheat (Trigeño) which is part of the mixture called Mulatto (African & Spanish descend). Very few are of pure European descend, mostly came during the early 20th century. Also, other immigrants of different races came like Chines, Ashkenazi Jews, and Lebanese people.

    Although, there is no Tainos in the island, pieces of their culture is very welcome by the new races of the island.

  • O Dixon

    I noticed several people complaining about the Tainos not being mentioned in the documentary. The influence of Taino culture in the DR is worthy of further exploration. It is deeply fascinating to me. I would remind you the documentary is about exploring Blackness in Latin America.

  • JRomero

    I was amazed watching this piece. It is unbelievable to see how bias, innacurate and at times out-rightly offensive Dr. Gates can be. The Dominican Republic was invaded by Haiti, immediately after proclaiming its first independence. DR was forced to endure destruction, death, humilliation as well as degradation, among many other horrors. It is fascinating to observe Dr. Gates enthusiasm when it comes to Haiti. Adversely, it is very sad to notice how unamicable he is towards the Dominican Republic. A lot of the little information that was presented about DR was completely wrong.
    Dr. Gates this documentary is an unfortunate disgrace and you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

  • Maha

    I was expecting more from the documentary. I felt it was incomplete and one sided. Hoping the other documentaries arent as biased as this one.

  • Frank G

    Prof. Gates: Enjoyed your program “Black in Latin America” and look forward to the other episodes. I do have a comment regarding the two peoples that populate Hispaniola.
    Disclosure, I am of Dominican descent. When you state that 90% of the DR’s population is black, you are partly correct, from a “US” perspective. Despite the changes made to the current census methodology, much of white America still considers anyone having any black blood as “black” rather than mixed (or the old terms such as mulatto). This includes our president and many other Americans. Yet when you look at the 2 populations you can readily see that many Dominicans are mixed vs. most Haitians who are black. This, along with the language difference, has played an important role in what amounts to an unfair isolation/rejection by the other “Spanish” nations. The debt burdens which you mentioned have only served to further exacerbate Haiti’s problems. Let us hope that their plight may finally improve-they deserve a break. Thank you.

  • Paola

    I saw the documentary on haiti and the dominican republic.
    I am haitian, and my mother is colombian so I it’s not only in the DR that the issue of race comes up.
    I have to agree, I have been to the DR many times and I see how dominicans have this identitiy crisis.
    No one wants to accept that they are black.
    People keep mentionning the tainos, may be I am wrong the whole reason why the slaves were brought from different parts of Africa was beacause the Tainos were dying off.
    By the time, the french and spanish divided the island in 1687 the Tainos were pretty much killed off.
    I also have to be fair and state, that even though Hait i is predominantly black, there is racism in haiti as well.
    You will be amazed at how many hatians consider themselves “Mulato” instead of black.
    One of the many things that struck me, was when the proffessor was nearing the end of this documentary, he asked a Dominican historian to summarize the differences between Haiti and the DR, and he stated the obvious, we speak different languages. Then this historian went on to say that the DR was only Roman Cathollic and in Haiti vodoo is the primary religion. I am not going to deny that Voodoo has and always will have a strong influence in haiti. If this historian would have checked his facts on haiti, he would have seen that Haitians are primarily Roman Catholic. About 80-85% of Haitians are catholic, then some are Seven Day Adventists, some are protestants, Mormons. You can already tell that this historian has never been to Haiti. It’s so sad that we share an island and Dominicans know so little about Haitians, yet they think they know haitians and haitian culture well.

  • Elsie

    This documentary has shed some light on things i once found very confusing. I am dominican, lived in DR until i was 14 years old when i moved to new york.

    even though my mother’s family are black (and could easily pass for haitians, they run from that like the plague. they dont consider themselves black for a second (even if they have to chemically treat their hair, have clear african features and are black by any standards a black person can be recognized) i suffered a lot by the hands of my own cousins because i on the other hand, have what they consider “white features” (my father was from abroad).. trust me, im not white by any means! just have lighter skin and straight hair and a small nose) they have always called me “blondie” my own mother often told me that “i needed to marry white, because i had to ‘better my race” i grew up thinking i was white and getting to new york was a big shock to me.

    when i realized that i wasnt white, i didnt know who i was. i married (a blond/blue eye man from of course, norway) and had no sense of identity at all. people often thought i was “italian” or “brazilian”. i think dominican people need to face the fact that we are black., there is no shame in that, the real shame is in teaching kids to “marry white” so they can be better… i recent my family for doing that to me. i now consider myself hispanic, dominican and a melting pot but i am not white… if anything.. i am what none of my family want to admit: black,

  • Menard

    Just wanted to address the concern to why many are worrying over why Tainos weren’t mentioned but thats because most if not all native and indigenous people died off by either diseases brought from the old world and/ or were killed; very few if any Dominicans are from Tainos sorry to say.

  • max555

    I’m Dominican from New York, and while it’s obvious that there racism and complete silence about African descent is a problem in DR, the US model is also completely racist, and so limiting that it only recognized two races to the point that the term “bi-racial” just means white and black as though no other races exist, it is this model that I see Professor Gates applying to two different countries DR and Haiti. This limited lens obscures the complexity of this topic. I appreciate the effort but think it falls short of the mark and would love to see documentaries about this topic with more complexity. Hopefully through the lens of Dominican and Haitian film makers.

  • Orlando N. Gomez

    It seems to me that a strong emphasis was made by professor Gate about the historical events through which all the atrocities and depersonalization inflicted to Haitian people since the slave trade to the present as the primary reason as to why Haiti is still the way Haiti is today. I believe that most of these historical events had touch most Haiti’s neighboring countries; including the Dominican Republic as well, and who was invaded and somewhat prevented from from freedom by Haiti in the past. I believe that professor Gate failed to emphasize in Haiti’s neighboring counties’ mode of adaptation in the are which is somewhat different from Haiti’s mode of adaptation which is well nourished with the”power of occultism” or eclecticism through the practice of voodoo. For these neighboring countries voodoo is evil while in Haiti voodoo is part of many Haitians beliefs; plus that similar to Haiti’s neighboring countries,the corruption among those who have been governing Haiti as a country, has been sucking Haitian people’s blood and preventing them from progressing as a nation until this present time. Therefore the difference between Haiti and its neighboring countries is that the high degree of corruption in Haiti, could not be contained by Haiti’s people to this moment. Professor Gate, therefore, I believe that the combination of voodoo beliefs with the high degree of corruption in Haiti, might be the force controlling and preventing Haiti from developing as a nation.Class does not commit suicide…

  • Jose del C. Paulino

    I learned in Anthropology in Mexico City”s Ibero-Americana University that Race in Latin America is a “Cultural Term” – describing how people live, customs etc. For Anglo-sired countries it is how you look-

    Haiti is still piece of West Africa of the 16th Century – unchanged today in 2011.

    Therein is the difference between the Dominican republic- which is “Culturally a latin American country” and Haiti.
    Dominicans do not live as in 16th Century West Africa – Haitians do.

    Mexico, a largely racially mixed country (Indian and yes Black, in its coastal Areas) is seen as a Latin American country -not Indian. “Dia de la Raza” was term used for Columbus Day. To be continued.

  • tata, DR (CIBAO)

    Yes, in DR theres people of all colors black, white, fair skin, brown, why? well we have people that are mixed with chinese, indian (not taino, INDIA from the lower caste), african, we have a small community of arabs, haitian, even mexicans , russians, spaniards, french etc… from the diverse migrations in different time periods that have arrived in the island. I disagree that we have taino in our lineage, why? these were exterminated hundreds of years ago…However, the reality is that our population is more of black ancestry than any different type of white culture. In Dom rep there is a white elite families that never mix which try on a full scale to ostricize and keep our poor black communities from rising up. We need a voice and ok this documentary of Prof Gates is missing alot of things it is not perfect but its a start and I know other programs will follow.

  • Miss Ivy

    I thought the episode to be very educational. It has always saddened me how some of our Latino brothers and sisters thoroughly despise their African ancestry and love their European ancestry more. It is just another example of self hate -how can you look in a mirror and say you are white or mulatto or taino and if you came from the same slave ships that dropped some of us off here in USA we are all African –The “One Drop” theory always prevails –I have been around the caribbean and most Black Puerto Ricans and Black Dominicans could be darker than me have nappier hair than me and if I ask them what their race is they tell me they are “Dominican” or Puerto Rican–and my response is what is your race? not your nationality If I am Black then you must be too…I love my people and African heritage love being a beautiful Black woman…I will visit “Haiti” next time where the people are so proud of their heritage and ancestry…I think the Dominicans and other Black Latinos get the real wake up call when they come to America where the one drop makes you a nigger……im just sayin

  • Tatiana Hall

    Watching this story blew me away I am haitian born in haiti and I never knew the history of my own country. My parents never took us back to haiti after we left in 1970 I was two y.o. Most people that meet me based on my skin color believe that I am malado and way to pretty to even identify as a haitian person which has always made me very angry because I am very loud and proud to represent my people. It’s my dream to one day visit my country and after watching this documentary I am very proud of my blackness and our history. I Thank you Mr. Gates on a job well done. There’s so much more to my country than I ever imagined and I pray that all haitian parents teach their children of their rich history. I had no idea!!

  • jojo2003

    Taino Culture? Denial Denial is all I see when I read about Taino Culture. People want to talk about Taino when the series is called “Blacks in Latin America”!
    The truth hurts….the facts don’t lie. Many of us know about history that has been “modify” to justify the actions against minorities. The oppressors needs US to continue to be divided. So far, that still in effect based on the comments I read.
    “the white elephant in the livingroom” that one want to see…

  • Vanessa J.

    Although I was very happy to learn more of Haitian and Dominican history I can wait to see what is said about enslaved Africans in South American especially Ecuador since I am a Afro-Ecuadorian-Haitian American women. Thank you Professor Gates for opening up the conversation about enslaved Africans in other parts of the world.

  • Jennifer

    Although I am not Haitian, I have had many encounters with people of Haitian descent. While I think Professor Gates did an excellent job of covering the history of this country, he failed to discuss the divisions that exist amongst its people in terms of skin color and social class. To not discuss their issues of being color struck, as he did in the Dominican Republic is misleading. The majority of the Haitian elite is of a lighter hue and does not reflect many of the people featured in this episode of the documentary.

    I would agree that Haiti has a proud history with a strong connection to Africa. However, I think that it is important to realize although the Kreyol word for Haiti is featured on the cover of its passport, all things French are placed on a pedestal by the elite. As with any society that has interactions with people of European descent, to be light skinned or of mixed race is thought to be better than being black.

  • Mambolicious

    I enjoyed the documentary and I also would have liked to have seen more of the Dominican Republic and the Taino culture. I believe there was reference made to Tainos when the anthropologist, Juan, mentioned that Dominicans called themselves “Indios” to negate their African lineage . If not, Juan should have also told Professor Gates about the Tainos. The focus of the story was the racism and the division of the island. Considering the time segment, I thought that he did a thorough job of illustrating this very pathetic reality. I never had the impression that Dominicans were the bad guys. It’s more like they were brainwashed or not properly informed of their history. In regards to the mix up about salsa, you can’t really blame the professor for this injustice. He obviously had to rely on translators and the musician that he spoke to said, “El Merengue…..” Hopefully, he will read these comments and make edit the video promptly.

  • Dar(th)k Vader

    Surely, it must be pointed out that up to a certain point in history (300 +years) the mixing of races and cultures that took place on these islands and throughout this region was not by choice. It’s not until modern history say the 60’s +/- some years, that you’d find an off spring from a white woman of any European heritage and a African man. Subconciously this may be why soooo many mixed individuals and nations find it hard to embrace or to even acknowledge there African lineage, however minute. You should see the looks I get when I am riding the train in NYC with my half Black, half White daughter of consentual birth, let alone the out right harassment from my employer.

    Embrace your heritage, no matter how painful hi(s)tory is. The African womb is sacred. Luke I am your Father !

  • Cindy

    I have watched several of Dr. Gates’s documentaries and respect his efforts to uncover black history in all parts of the world. With that being said I want to remind everyone that this documentary was made by a person and clearly made in his vision. If you disagree with any of the opinions or the method in which the story was told, frequent your museums, our libraries and see what information is out there. Do not rely on professor gates to teach you anything unless you are enrolled in his class at Harvard. Research and teach yourself.
    Also: in response to Bachata who claims that there are special Taino words in the Dominican language such as yuca, maiz and such- In Creole (the Haitian language) corn is still MAIS, Yuca is CASSAVA or MAYOK and these words are not exclusively Dominican. If you order Mais or Yuca in a haitian restaurant that is what you will get. Yuca (originally cultivated in Brazil by the Native people there) is now overwhelmingly produced in Nigeria , the largest producer of the Yuca plant in the world. Creole shares a large percentage of its vocabulary with its Dominican neighbors to the East. If you are going to point out the differences between two peoples please don’t use words that are identical in both cultures. Remember, Haitians are descended fromt he native peoples as well. What you absorbed, they absorbed.

  • Vangie Vargas

    Our histories, African American and Latino, are so much more RICH, than was depicted in this first segment: Haiti & the Dominican Republic: An Island Divided.

    I was excited to hear about the series. I set alarms, posted notes on my walls, so I wouldn’t miss the first segment. I am a little disappointed. The first segment began with a discussion of merengue. The music that was highlighted WAS NOT merengue, but guaguanco or salsa. This error set the tone for the segment. The segment seemed more like a discussion of Haiti’s victimization, than about Blacks in Latin America. Haiti’s victimization is a great topic, but then the segment should not be advertised as being about Blacks in Latin America. Professor Gates/PBS demonstrated insensitivity to the subject matter. There was an obvious North American bias, and dare I say, an African American bias.

    Yes, there is racism, discrimination, and bias against people of “more African” ancestry. However, it is so much more complicated than expressed in the first segment. There is also so much more integration. How my parents thought about skin color is so different than I think about it, and even more different than how my children think about it. This is true in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and other Latin American countries. I am Puerto Rican, raised in the North East. I have travelled throughout Latin American and the caribbean. I lived in Nicaragua for 3 years. I have lived all over the North East and have had the privilege of working and living with many peoples of color. Our histories, African American and Latino, are so much more RICH than depicted in this first segment! I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this further with PBS and Professor Gates-on Facebook.

  • Raul Ramos y Sanchez

    I applaud Dr. Gates for exposing U.S. viewers to the diversity of Latin America people. When most U.S. citizens think of a Latino, they rarely picture someone black. This series broadens our understanding of the very complex identity of people from Spanish-speaking countries, an identity that is usually oversimplified into misleading racial stereotypes in the U.S. media. Just like the United States, Latin America’s population is composed of immigrants from every corner of the planet along with indigenous local people and African slaves. Moreover, the blending of ancestries is not even mix across Latin America–often showing a predominance of one ancestral group within regions of a single country. It is in this respect, that the first episode of Dr. Gates’ series showed some shortcomings.

    A visit by Dr. Gates to other parts of the Dominican Republic would where European and indigenous ancestry is more common would have broadened the U.S. public’s perspective of the nation’s diversity. Another shortcoming of this episode was that Dr. Gates appeared to judge the people of African descent in the Dominican Republic based the U.S. “one drop” rule for categorizing black identity.

    Most scholars agree that “race” is primarily a social construct. This fact was quite evident in Dr. Gates’ assumption that people of African descent in the DR were denying their “blackness.” In reality, the labels White, Black, Asian and Hispanic (which most Americans accept as legitimate racial/ethnic categories) are identities that exist primarily within the borders of the United States. Outside the United States, the nations lumped within these categories show little propensity for unity. Although unintended, I feel Dr. Gates imposed some of the nationalistic hubris in this episode.

    Despite these flaws, I support Dr. Gates and his attempt to broaden our perspectives. The most important thing he has done is to open our eyes and open a dialog.

  • Vanessa

    A good beginning but not deep enough. I believe the point of view was somewhat biased and naive.
    Race – in the US and elsewhere – is very complex. We must be careful that we do not impose “American” ideas of race on the world. I am Dominican-America. Born and raised in Little Quisqueya – Washington Heights. I am not black. Neither am I white. I could never chose between those two. Although like Mr. Moya Pons I am what Americans would call “white”. I wonder Dr. Gates how would you classify Mr. Moya Pons?
    Many are correct in stating that Tainos/Arawaks made little racial contributions to what a Domincan is. In truth we are a mulatto people – Spaniard and African. I understand and embrace the need to fully come to terms with who we are. But let us be honest then – as is stated it the beginning Domicans are a mixed race – as are Haitians.
    The examination of Haiti I felt was much more through but also lacked depth. There was little discussion of Haitians “mulatto” ruling class.

  • El Gringo Cubano

    The first Henry Louis Gates episode is even more biased, slanted, mis-informed, ignorant, with blatant falsehoods and errors, than I could have imagined, even from him. This is a sad commentary on the editing done by PBS and puts them even more at the risk of the politicoes who wish to destroy them. Harvard, too should be embarrassed by this man. At least Stephen Jay Gould had and Alan Dershowitz have some ethics and attempt(ed) to be well researched in spite of their popularization and appeal. Has he not bothered to read some standard books on the two countries, and perhaps some on their culture?

    Gates even begins the episode by having the wrong name for his merenguero (Frank Cruz, in fact it is Francisco Santana), and having him discuss merengue while son is being played, as though the music being shown is merengue. And he does not mention bachata, which is as popular and becoming more so even in the US. He greatly slanders the DR in too many ways, and elevates the “rich and noble heritage” of Haiti to the point of the ridiculous by omission and misinformation, and worse! If this is an example of his “scholarship” he deserves to lose his tenured appointment at a great university. He exclaims about the beauty of the vistas from the Citadel and does not speak about how many of the 20,000 workers died under brutal conditons during construction, how Henri Christophe declared himself King Henry I and was as despotic and sadistic as the French Plantation masters, how he continued the plantation system and virtual slavery in the north, which explained the prosperity contrasted with the dissolution of the plantation system in the south of Haiti. He does not mention the terrible despotism of the nineteenth century Haitian leaders, and how badly they treated the Dominicans. He blames “Hollywood” for slandering voudoun, yet it was Duvalier who enlisted the voodoo priests and turned the peaceful pantheistic West African religion into a terrifying system to frighten the populace, how Duvalier’s “noirisme” scapegoated whites as a way of getting Francois into power, as Trujillo used Haitians.He features Max Beauvoir without mentioning allegations of his questionable character . He does not mention that Trujillo, for his own complicated reasons, was the only leader to offer asylum to the expected refugees from the coming Second World War in Europe, and founded a city, Sosua, for that purpose. He does not mention how the Haitian despots raped the land, and as monstrous as Trujillo became, that he and Balaguer took an undeveloped country, and after the devastation of the hurricane of 1930, built infrastructure, roads, industries, schools, and converved two thirds of the Dominican Republic as national parks. This goes a long way to explaining the tragic and sad differences between the two countries. As he flew over the island, did not he notice the barren brownness of Haiti, which once had been as green and lush as the Dominican side, and how the responsibility for this goes back to the leaders of Haiti for over 200 years?

    He does not mention the use of Haiti by the privateers to pillage the Spanish fleets in the 17th century, and how the Spanish King cleared out the small population on that side of the island, opening Haiti up to the French plantations, and the eventual xenophobia of the Haitian “democracy” in the nineteenth century, occasioned in part by the embargo, and how the Dominican side was open to Spanish, Chinese, Indian, European, North American, et al for immigration, and how that contrast affected the development of the two countries.

    His use of only one person’s opinion to say the Dominican claim of “indio” color is a negation of blackness is biased-many Dominicans see that as an affirmative of their connection to Taino ancestry. They have many names for the varied colors of their diverse nation (Indio oscuro, indio claro, cafe con leche, etc.)He uses the word “mulatto” which I have never heard in 20 years of visiting that country more than 50 times-the generic word in the DR is “moreno or morena”. He says they do not use the word “Negro,” perhaps not, but I have heard Dominicans call their darker skinned compatriots with a Spanish accent, “La Negra, Negro, negrito.” with affection and no negative reception. He does not mention that the traditional dolls of the DR have no faces, because of the diversity of the people, so that each child may imagine their own face on the figure.

    He omits the numerous Botanica shops and tradition of Santeria in the DR. Had he gone into one, he might have noticed that the portraits of Catholic saints available for purchase have West African gods portraits on the other side, Ochun, Chango, Yemaya, in equivalence for the saints.

    As a graduate of the great university at which he is tenured, I am ashamed that this sham presentation has the authority of Harvard University and PBS behind it. Where is the careful research, understanding of the complexity of history, not to mention humanity, that should be at least hinted at, even in a 51 minute presentation. I shudder to think of the misinformation coming in the next episodes. Perhaps Professor Gates should refresh his understanding of scholarly research before presenting any more of this drivel to a suggestible public.

    Nevertheless, l am pleased he has at least begun to explore these fascinating issues. Let us hope he will at least partially relinquish his own agendas in the future for a more profound picture in living color of the ‘gray” where truth is at least approximated, not the simple “black and white” that he seems to favor.

  • Renee Martin

    The most educative documentary ever produced! Thank you Professor Gate putting it out there! It is phenomenal!

    While the western part of Haiti has a stable identify as it relates to race, culture, desire, origin and destination, the eastern part is still struggling with who they are, whom they want to be and what exactly is their culture. People have to right to embrace and cherish whomever and whatever is near and dear to their heart and whoever made an impact–positive or negative–on their live. In the case of the Haitians, they don’t have to look farther; their past has spoken loud and clear, albeit what the rest of the rest of world currently perceives. The Dominicans on the other hand are still confused: who and what I am? I am not black, I would like to be white, but I can’t; so I am creating a race for myself: Taino. For the record, the Tainos were members of the Arawak tribe that were extinguished [completely wiped out] by the Spanish in the 19th century; and history reveals that no Indians ever came into contact with the Africans on the island of Haiti; therefore Dominicans cannot be Tainos; and when I look at the Dominicans, I don’t see any Indian traits or characteristics—none whatsoever! The Dominicans that identify themselves as Tainos are Creoles—a mixture of European and black. Yes, make no mistakes, the Spanish did mate with blacks and when you look at the Dominicans, you don’t to guess.
    Haiti and Haitians epitomize the one and only noblest act ever committed in the history of mankind: “The Abolishment of Slavery “. Now ponder this: We are the world greatest architect of freedom and democracy and we are darned proud of that.

  • Dr. Hanna Walinska

    “Youseline Dophin says:
    April 13, 2011 at 9:28 am

    why you did not say anything about the TAINOS?”

    -I wondered as well, Youseline.

    I very much appreciate the series and have learned a lot visually from the Part 1 about Haiti and Dominican Republic. Haiti indeed has an extraordinary history. Yet I miss one issue here – the extermination of the Indigenous people of Hispaniola was one of the most horrific genocides in the Western history and more than deserved a mention. It would explain why Hispaniola was one of the first locales were Black slaves had to be imported from Africa.

    The hues of the Latin America and the Caribbean have three ingredients, white, African, and Amerindian. THERE ARE BLACK INDIANS – in both Americas! (cf. the black slaves of Cherokees – recently rejected by the tribe as members)

    I also wish for more of the series in the future to explore the incredible heritage of the Garifuna people (”Black Caribs”) who were forcefully removed by the British in 1797 from the island of St. Vincent. Garinagu now live on the Caribbean coasts of the Central America (and in many US cities), and are a mix of Carib, Arawak and African blood and culture. Their language is fully Amerindian, however, and related to Taino of the Caribbean islands and hundreds of other Arawakan languages in South America.

    We begin to accept that that whites and blacks can mix – even in Latin America. But Indians and Blacks – is still a racial frontier and a bit of a taboo in the entire Hemisphere.. To much of The Other?

  • Georges Bossous, Jr.

    This is one of the most balanced documentaries about the Dominican Republic and Haiti I’ve seen.

    It is worth noting that the singer did not mention Haitian music as one of influences on the “Dominican Merengue.” Many Historians and music experts acknowledge that fact. During the Haitian occupation of the entire Island, they brought with them many elements of their culture including their music. One of the Dances that the soldiers brought in the DR was “Carabinier,” which greatly influenced Dominican dance. As a matter of fact the Haitian National music is called “La Meringue Hatienne.” It is not the little over 50-year old “Compas,” which is currently the most popular and urban Haitian music. Haitian culture has influenced many other cultures in the region including the Dominicans’ and vice-versa. Based on Dr. Gates documentary one can understand why those facts were systematically omitted by Dominicans Scholars and Historians. I’ still wondering how many Dominicans know that Trujillo had Haitian lineage? My point is, we are not as different as they want us to believe. Those people have more in common than they conditioned us to think. We just happen to have two different white masters, (i.e., the French and the Spanish).

    Kudos Dr. Gate, – Well done.

  • pat

    I’m a Caribbean Native now living in the USA.

    I took Caribbean History in school when I was a kid, and I don’t remember much of what was taught in that class since it has been 30+ years now.

    This topic is interesting because it is reteaching me lots of information that was left out of history training in school. I always thought most of the slaves taken from Africa went to the USA. This film points out that only some 5% of the slaves from Africa landed in the USA.

    I think the voice of these African descendants living in the Caribbean & Latin America have been silent for too long.

    For those of you that don’t like what Prof Gates has to say… Join the historian club and write your own story! This is a great opportunity to piggyback off of the publicity of this documentary to share it with other intersted people.

  • Jen

    I am a little confused as to why so many people are complaining that the Taino are not mentioned in this documentary. Firstly, it is about Black people in the Americas. Secondly, the Taino ARE mentioned. They are mentioned when it is said that by the 19th century, there were no indigenous people in the DR. The indigenous people would be the Taino! This idea that Dominicans are brown because of their Taino ancestry is a myth. Their Taino ancestry is scant compared to their African ancestry. This is the point Gates is making.

  • Victor C

    60 minutes its not enough time to capture the history of these great countries. I am puertorrican but have haitian ancestry.
    Race relations in the spanish caribbean are quite different from the rest of our hemisphere. Our families have whites, blacks, and “indios”. You can see that in our music, cousine, and language. Its true that in the past we didn’t embrace our african heritage, but you have to understand that the africans were the oppressed, the lower layer of our societies. Our ancestors view anything related to Africa as negative, so we embraced our european ancestry and forgot about the rest.

  • nutsc64

    Dr. gates documentary is very informative and it opens a discussion that we Latinos want to avoid or ignore. However, Dr. Gates documentary seems to be bias and it gives great disadvantage to the Dominican Republic. To say that Dominicans don’t embrace their African roots is completely wrong. Please, youtube “Kinito Mendez-Palos Dominicanos-Suero de Amor” and “A pedir su mano-Juan Luis Guerra” and you will find so many African elements in these two songs even though the singers are light-skinned.
    I my opinion, the Dominican Republic is a very young country trying to find an identity. Since its formation, it has been a mix of so many influences. Although the Tainos were exterminated, we have their genes because of the relationships between whites and Tainos. So, to be true to ourselves, we have to embrace all of our components. It would be hypocritical to say that we are only black because as dark as our white component might be, it is still there. I tried to identify myself with my African origins (out of shame for what the white men did) and ended up lost. I am a mix of African, Spanish, Armenian, (I don’t know if I have any Taino), and when I thought I was done, then there is the rumor that my grandmother ancestors came from Asia.
    If you judge by their music alone, which is the most important expression of Dominican sentiment, you can’t say that we Dominicans don’t embrace our African roots. What all merengues talk about (With big pride!)? The hips, waist, and flavor of “La morena”, “La mulata”, “La negra”, and I have hardly heard the mention of white features in merengue’s lyrics. One of the biggest names in merengue, Johnny Ventura (”Yo soy el unico negro que bota miel por los poros”) , Joseito Mateo, were embraced and loved by Dominicans and they are predominantly black people.
    As I said before, we are probably an adolescent nation trying to find an identity but it is so hard because we have so many components, and to be true to ourselves, we must embrace all of them.
    And a final note, if you ask me, I wish we could form the “United States of Hispaniola” with the Dominican State and Haitian State working together to reach common goals. We would be stronger than ever.

  • Omar

    Though in general informative, there are some things that were not (adequately) addressed. The Haitian population, though generally darker in color than Dominicans, do have a history of “gens de couleur” (people of mixed race) which played and play a pivotal part in Haitian history; not the least in their understanding of the Haitian Revolution. The series is s good start, but needs some more thorough explanations

  • Anthony C

    The Tainos were pretty much, mostly WIPED out. Sorry my fellow Dominicans who claim to come from Taino ancestry, but your pretty much just black, white with a very little bit of “indian” and that pretty much applies to most if not all of the caribbean islands. this is why non of us look like the mexicans or south americans.which is what true”indian” people look like in the west.

  • Marabou

    Dr. Gates,
    Outstanding job!
    I am Haitian born and greatly appreciate someone finally touching on the “noble” aspect of Haitians in lieu of the poverty that has plagued the nation, which is mainly a direct result of continuous embargos, systematic oppression, and resistance from the higher powers of the “developed” world to negate Haiti as the first-ever black republic.
    Furthermore, the nerve of France asking for reparation from Haiti!!! How about reparation for kidnapping Africans from their homeland and enslaving them! I’m still outraged by this. I digress…
    Thank you for this wonderful piece.

  • Harvey

    A beautiful film Professor, I hope a lot more is to come!

  • Fosforera Veloz

    Music Wise: I cannot forgive that the episode starts defining Dominicans by their music: Merengue and refer to the matter for about 3 minutes while having un Son encendio on the background as music. In sociological terms (I am not a sociologist) it kind of demonizes DR and isolates Afrodominican cultural groups. It only refers to Sto. Dgo. not DR as a whole. What about the San Pedro de Macoris Guloyas? the African American descents of Samana? What about the ones in Bani? What’s the need of so much simplification?

  • Mrs. Georges

    Excellent documentary!

    The Taino/Arawak Indians inhabited the ENTIRE island of Hispaniola and other islands as well! Their DNA is not traceable in Haitians nor Dominicans and the mention of the Tainos would be of NO relevance to the purpose of this documentary!

  • Tara M

    As a woman of Puerto Rican heritage I claim the identity of multi-racial. I don’t know in what percentages…but I and MOST other Puerto Ricans are a mix of Caucasian, African, AND Taino. To claim one’s Taino heritage does not necessarily mean that one is denying the other two parts. Are some people plagued by internalized racism? Yes, of course. Please don’t paint us all with the same brush, and don’t tell me to deny 1/3 of my heritage.

  • Global Force

    Within 20 years of the arrival of Columbus, the Taino people were literally wiped out!. In other words, the Spanish commited genocide against the Tainos. As a result, they had to bring in Africans for free labor. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there are no descendents of Tainos left at all in DR, and haven’t been since the 16st century.

  • Global Force

    In regards to the Taino, Columbus wrotein his journal about how easy the natives do what they want them to, and how they would make good slaves “They have no weapons and are all naked without any skill in arms and are very cowardly so that a thousand would not challenge three,” says the journal for December 16th “… Thus they are useful to be commanded and to be made to labor and sow and to do everything else of which there is need and build towns and be taught to wear clothes and learn our customs.”

    Columbus dehumanized the Taino and treated them like animals. It is written that “Columbus made a plan to capture the natives and send them to Europe to work as slaves. Next most of the Natives were slain either by the hands of their captors, their own hands, or from overwork, or they were captured as slaves. “The fugitives in the mountains were hunted down with hounds; if they escaped capture, they often died of disease or starvation. Thousands killed themselves by taking a poison made from cassava. Many parents killed their infants to spare them a living death under Spanish rule. In only two years, half the 250,000 Indians on the island were dead… it was the beginning of genocide for the native population. By 1548…not 500 Indians remained in Hispaniola”


    Good documentary, though it only tells half the story: the Haitian story. That’s understandable since this is a documentary about blacks in Latin America, conducted by and African-American.

    My issue is that right from the start, you question the identity of Dominicans, painting a negative picture of them by stating all of them reject their African ancestry. Not true at all. Then, only a handful of blacks are shown in the DR, as if all people there were black. Then, only impoverished areas of the country are shown, once again to show how similar these two countries are, when in fact, they couldn’t be more different. Why didn’t the producers show the bustling capital that is Santo Domingo with it’s opulent high rises, parks, shopping areas? How about the touristic destinations with majestic all inclusive five-star hotels, pristine beaches, world-class golf and friendly people. Puerto Plata, Samana, Jarabacoa, Punta Cana, Bavaro and La Romana, to name only but a few, are beautiful places in the DR. But your producers felt they could only show the “similarities” between the two countries, a handful of blacks practicing voodoo or dancing to “palos”.

    With your documentary, we learned a good deal of the Haitian history but not too much of the Dominican history. Why can’t Dominicans claim a Spanish heritage when the first settlers there were in fact Spaniards who later mixed with the native Tainos. Africans were brought in later as slaves by both Spanish and French and are in fact ‘part’ of the Dominican ethnicity and culture.

    Another discrepancy in the documentary (there are plenty more), is the music that is being played in the beginning by Francis Santana. It is not Merengue but “Son” which is a Cuban rhythm. The faster-paced “merengue tipico” or classic merengue includes “tambora” (cowhide drum), guiro and most importanly the accordion which is a French instrument. More elaborate forms of classic merengue might include the saxophone, a string instrument, maracas and marimba (a large box with metallic keys that produces bass sounds). Merengue is the name of a French dance which some say influenced the Dominican merengue music and dance. But of course all these dances, music and instruments sound the same to the Anglo ears this documentary is targeted to.

    I see this documentary as another attempt to bundle the two countries together, when in fact they are very different nations. DR on the East side with a growing economy, one of the best in the continent. The other to the West living in extreme poverty and unsanitary conditions. Dominican Republic is considered and third-world country in development, Haiti is a fourth-world country in need of help from the international community. Many organizations including the UN have hinted at wanting the DR to assume responsibility for Haiti, thus somewhat empowering Haitians to feel they can rightfully cross the border and claim what is “theirs”. Haitians have already started their deforestation practices in the DR, the same practices that devastated the Haitian countryside and natural resources many years ago.

    Not all Dominicans embrace the African heritage simply because not all Dominicans are of African decent.

    “Also, he didn’t mention how, in the contrary to the US, in Latin America with all the negatives, Blacks, Whites and Indians sit at the same table, eat the same food, go to the same parties and dance to the same music!” VERY TRUE.

    “I cannot count the number of articles/opinions/documentaries that have come out made specifically to convince Dominicans that they are in denial of their Blackness and must help & unite with their Haitian counterparts.” ALSO VERY TRUE. International organizations are pushing for the DR to assume responsibility for Haiti.


  • greg washington

    Great work. Us black people need to be connected to our roots. Please keep teaching

  • Mr Rosado Sicard

    Well Jairus H. to say that Africa is the heart of the Dominican Republic is very wrong, Haiti is another story…….
    Dominican Republic’s ejemony is spanish and even if the documentary is about african history, it must be said that dominicans have a totally different culture in all aspects.
    Is not that we dont want to be black, black is one of our roots and made us richer in culture but is only a third of our amalgama.
    Remember that culture is what puts a face on people, and we are proud of what the mixture got to show from us to the rest of the world.
    We are not better or worse than Haitians, we are just different.
    And when you talk about “the majority of the famous dominicans that are successful” you are only talking about the baseball branch of our tree.

  • Monica Johnson Valdez

    I love all of your work. I am African American in New York married to an Afro Dominican and he knows it (smile)
    He has many Haitian friends and understands the struggles between Haiti and Dominican Republic. He has been there to help after the earthquake and has workded with Sonia Pierre as well.

    Sonia Pierre, someone whose name I didn’t hear in your piece is a woman living in Dominican Republic who is trying to help the Haitians who live in Dominican Republic get rights and citizenship there. MUDHA – (Movement of Dominican – Haitian Women – MUDHA) – Dominican Republic and Haiti. She even won an award here in the U.S. for her humanitarian efforts.

    Keep on educating us because we didn’t get this from our History books in the U.S.

  • Candelo

    I agree with alot of the comments above. Great job exposing the two cultures, however, I felt that the dominican segment was very short and straight to the point compared to haitian segment.
    -In the beginning, they were not playing merengue at all.
    - There are many other places in D.R. where black culture is prominent and accepted.
    Not all dominicans are racist haters, however you did a good job at pointing out the ones that are. However, they are products of where they live. It is not their fault to a certain degree. The government has propagated these beliefs and stereotypes.

    I once had a friend who was also dominican and his mother put that he was taino on his birth certificate. Truth is, this dude was DARKER THAN ME! LoL… There were some people that posted criticisms about Haiti being so different, and that we have taino/arawak influences, but so does haiti (duh, hince the name “Haiti” (Ayisi)! We need to clean our minds of this political poisoning and realize that we live on one island separated by a river: Kiskeya!

  • awm050501

    To address a few of the comments regarding the Taínos Indians; by the mid 1500’s, they were basically extinct. I know a lot of DRs claim that is the reason for the brown/broze skin tones. Frank Moya Pons, a Dominican historian documented that Spanish colonists intermarried with Taíno women, and, over time, these mestizo descendants intermarried with Africans, creating a tri-racial (Black, White, and Indian) Creole culture. 1514 census records reveal that 40% of Spanish men in the Dominican Republic had Taíno wives. It is documented that Taínos were declared extinct in Spanish documents as early as the 16th century; however Taíno Indians kept appearing in wills and legal records in the ensuing years, thus perpetrating this illusion that tribe still exists. This myth is what allows those people who are in denial of their African roots, to cling to claiming Indian and not Black. There are only a few races worldwide, but many cultures.

  • Hervé

    Like many sociological concepts, racial identification and classification are significant, yet underexamined aspects of daily life in Latin America and the Caribbean . WEB DuBois’s Soul of Black Folks can be viewed as ‘brutal ethnocentric intrusions’ or the advancement of ‘racistoid perspectives’ in a Caribbean society. “” In the US, all these people will be Black” Of course, race is a social construct. Race view in the US is not so a laudable canon to use for blackness out of America. I hace yet to knnow what canon is used by Professor Gates. This analysis is out of touh.

  • Hervé

    Like many sociological concepts, racial identification and classification are significant, yet underexamined aspects of daily life in Latin America and the Caribbean . WEB DuBois’s Soul of Black Folks can be viewed as ‘brutal ethnocentric intrusions’ or the advancement of ‘racistoid perspectives’ in a Caribbean society. “” In the US, all these people will be Black” Of course, race is a social construct. Race view in the US is not so a laudable canon to use for blackness out of America. I have yet to know what canon is used by Professor Gates. This analysis is out of touch.

  • 2ndGeninNYC

    I find it sad that the majority of the comments here are focused on trying to convince whether Dominicans are Taino or not or how “Black” any people are.

    What I got from the episode, and what I hoped others realize, is the history of a country that has been intentionally hidden in order to preserve the power structure of the imperial nations. All the major colonial powers bruttaly manipulated the government of this new nation to maintain the extraction of wealth and resources to the benefit of their corporations. Doesn’t this sound like the same formula being used today, especially in oil rich middle each nations?

    Also good to hear more about the USA involvment in the Haiti condition. Maybe now people will realize that Haiti remained the poorest country not because it doesn’t have resources, but because the US never allowed the people to profit from the resources in their own country.

  • Nelly

    Excellent wok professor gates. I am also a natural born (black) Dominican raised in in the USA, and this documentary gives me a better understanding of the racism, and ignorance that i, as many other dark Dominicans encounter on a daily basis dealing with our own People. i never understood, why People that are clearly descendents from African roots, would completely deny who they are , and where their ancestor come from. i am glad that this documentary was done, this will help maybe open the eyes of thousands, if not million of people to understand. why we feel the way we do, about the dark skin color and how we don’t have to do this anymore. Learn to embrace our melting pot, that it is the Dominican republic.!

  • BeninQueens

    Ok. I really want to like this series and I will keep watching but by starting off the episode talking about merengue when the music is clearly Cuban Son is alarming. Worse than that, the manner in which Dr. Gates chuckles along with Francis Santana is insulting. (Even a cursory Google search would have given the minions at PBS a better idea as to who the man is! What’s the deal? The Republicans cut back on fact checkers at PBS?) Instead of trying to fit in like “one of the brothers” why can’t Professor Gates just act normal and not try to ingratiate himself with people who, frankly, share precious little with a Harvard scholar. Also, for those who want to cite “historical records” available in Yale I would remind you that the historicization of the conquistadores, and those who quote them, is not always factual. Just because sources say that Tainos were all but wiped out does not necessarily mean they were. I understand the negation of African ancestry in DR is very real. However, let us not conflate this issue with the fact that the Tainos are still a part of the history of the island. I’m hoping that when Dr. Gates explores the continental communities of America, which have a different history than the islands, there will be a more informed discussion about the diversity of Latin America and how descendants of Africa are part of it. I’m still going to give this series a chance but I’m already nervous about Mexico, Peru, and Cuba.

  • Elias

    First off, as a Dominican I would like to thank professor Gates and PBS for providing an insight into our history and culture which, relative to the larger Latin American perspective, is often barely elaborated upon. For instance, in the University of Pennsylvania (where I study) there is no class of Dominican history or a even a professor of caribbean descent, but there is a class on Argentinan history and many professors of South American descent.

    Secondly, as a Dominican student whose roots extend to both the spanish and african sides of dominican society, I have to say that this program is egregiously misinformed about greater Dominican cultural identity, which is evident in the streets of Santo Domingo, where I was raised. Recently, in the United Nations, the Dominican representatives were offended when they were listed as “black” in a document that listed the racial makeup of the UN’s members. This illustrates that race is viewed very differently on the island, and we cannot simplify it, as Minister of Culture, Juan Rodriguez did, by saying, “Dominicans are in complete denial of who they are.”

    It is important to note that Mr. Juan Rodriguez as minister of culture has his finger on the pulse of American racial structure while receiving a paycheck in pesos– evidently his time in New York changed him. Any attempt to reconcile the island of Haiti with the Dominican Republic is like attempting to say that people from Belgium are a cultural derivative of the French. Our two islands have very different histories and are two very different monsters.

    African culture on the island is not felt the same in the respective countries. Try as you might to associate merengue with the Haitian “fiesta de palos,” the structure and meaning of these two musical forms are different. African culture has evolved concommitantly with spanish traditions on the island, whereas in Haiti, it remains largely undettered. Dominicans are not black, not because they say so, but because they are a truly mixed race– very few Dominicans have exclusively black genetic makeup. In Haiti this is not the case. Perhaps in the U.S. they would call mixed Dominicans black, but we have to be aware that this island has its own unique identity structure– go call someone from Taiwan chinese and see how informed you look. Even racially the definition does not fit.

    I am tired of American intellectuals imposing their system of labeling on our culture. There are many Dominican intellectuals who have written extensively on the subject. Professor Gates, why did you not study the works of Gratereaux or Juan Bosch before setting off on your journey? However, who would get away with saying that all whites in the U.S. are anglo saxon?

    Dominicans have an identity and they are well aware of it. There is no denial. We have written about it. We have a history. If you want this to be taken seriously, then do your research. Blacks in the states are not the same as a Dominican, and it is denegrating to the cultural growth and history of both races to want to say that they are.

  • Camilo Lopez

    * (as other have pointed out) these guys were not playing merengue
    * Cuban people are not (culturally speaking) black?
    * Haitian people tried to colonize Dominican people …
    * Most Cuban people (if not all of them) do not see Spain as the “motherland” (culturally speaking)
    * Sugar plantation shifted to Brazil?
    * No Myth of Hispanicity in Cuba
    * No whitening of the “brothers” … ;-)
    * the first free black nation in the western hemisphere … the first TRULY INDEPENDENT nation in the western hemisphere full stop (how could a nation be called “free” if slavery was not abollished?)
    * it was not only Thomas Jefferson who has been viscerally messing with Haiti from the start (try to watch a movie call “The Agronomist”)
    * 1 billion dollars between 1825-1947!?!?!
    * good they made a good attempt at calling things by their names and metioning how the US back brutal dictators such as Duvallier, Trujillo, Batista …

  • Linnette Encarnacion

    I am dominican but I never deny defently from where my original ancestral origin comes from which is defently from Africa ancentral descent… It s something that i cant deny at all because My skin complexion , my hair texture show it all. I live in USA and every day single people here think that i am african american for my my features but i am intensively part of Africa, I AM PART OF THEM myblack facial features are very iNHERITATE DEFENTLTY FROM THEM… i AM A PROUD AN AFRO ANTILLANA… when people hear me talking english and they notice right away that i m from the caribbean .. I will never deny that i am part of the african ancestral origen.. love haitians and africans, they are part of me..

  • Steve Toussaint

    As a teenager ,i never took my time to watch a documentary but when i heard that tonight on PBS they were going to talk about the difference between Haiti and Republic Dominicano i said i will watch the basket-Ball later let me watch what the professor Gate has to say and i congratulate you for this work.

  • Oda

    Frighteningly thourough investigation into Hispaniola’s and particularly Haiti’s reality.

    As an individual living and brought up in Haiti, one is always asking himself the origins of rhe country were you are. And I asked myself many times, without finding a valuable answer, the reasons behind its present situation.

    I was in Haiti during the quake that mobilized the world attention on the First inderpendent Black nation of the western hemisphere.

    I cannot thank you enough for the revelation that you have unfolded in this documentary that I will share with my friends.

  • Cher

    I thought this was a very informative documentary. While I am not from Haiti or DR, I am from the Caribbean and understand many of the issues that were addressed by Prof. Gates. However, I am rather confused by the repeated references made about the Taino Indians from posters linking their heritage to the Tainos. My own knowledge about the Tainos stems from my country, Jamaica, where the Tainos are also referred as Arawak Indians (they along with other Indian tribes were the first inhabitants of Jamaica). It is widely known that the Tainos were almost all but wiped out by the Europeans.

  • Lilian Grae

    He did mention the Taino people however the documentary is about BLACKS in Latin America. It is not a comprehensive history. Also, a large majority of the Taino was wiped out early in colonization.

  • Charles Barthoe

    Race,culture, and pride. What other subject can excite us more?
    Great work Dr. Gates.

  • Francisco Diaz

    Professor Gates:
    The statement that The Dominican Republic (DR)is “the first place in the new world to import African as slaves” made it seems as if the DR was an stablished country that needed workers and somehow got them betrays the fact that we, Dominicans, did not originated from Europeans who came and brought Africans slaves. I think that you are using Dominicans as instrument in your Haitians as victims discourse: Haitians deserve a better discourse…. for example, an unbiased one.
    Thank you,

  • Bluetiful

    Only the Santo Domingo region was discussed..what happened to the other regions??

  • Taalib

    I have been to the Dominican Republic several times and my wife is from there. I am of Haitian descent and was born in New York. I visited Mues del Hombre in Santo Domingo and seen the charts and pictures on the walls of African slaves, food groups, slave chains in that glass case, the map showing the diaspora of Africans to the island, and the sugar grinder from the ingenio. Out of all that being said I observed one thing……..lighter skinned Dominicans would walk and view the Taino artifacts and sorta ignore the Afrian exhibits of the museum. I shook my head in disbelief and walked out of there looking at the people and say to myself….the most obvious is right their in your culture……Africa. I sat with older Domincans and talked about African slaves that came straight from Seville, Spain which had an African population and spoke Spanish (Ladinos). They later opened up and siad they had grandparents or parents that were my skin color (dark). I seen a woman who was a friend of one of my friends in DR and her daughter was dark. She called her, Mi morenita!!” I smiled and felt warm inside when I saw that. Yes there is a denial and yes there is an acceptance of African roots. My wife’s father is from San Isidro and he is Black and her mother is from Santiago where they tend to be more lighter. She said she can’t take me there because of her grandmother’s racisim….. real sad, but true…Thank You for this documentary.

  • Bluetiful

    “@Youseline – The Tainos are extinct. There are no Dominicans who have Taino in their blood nor Haitians nor any other Caribbean country. Did you miss the part where the term “Indio” came from? It was used to negate the African root. The whole point of this work is to Highlight the denial of African roots in the DR.”

    Negative. At least 15% of Dominicans have Taino blood in their DNA. So your “there are no Dominicans who have Taino blood in their DNA” comment has failed miserably.

    The “part” of how the term Indio came about is a THEORY, NOT A FACT. You need to take these “stories” lightly because Dominicans share MANY myths/stories about how things evolved. Everyone has a different story. The term Indo is to describe the skin complexion of mulatto people, not to negate their African roots. That’s MY story and that’s how me and everyone I know see that. When you look at official Dominican documents we don’t use “race” as a category we use “skin color” skin colors could be “Indio”, “Trigeno”, “Negro”, “Blanco”, etc, etc..

  • Bluetiful

    “It’s obvious to the naked eye that we Dominicans have African heritage but the culture we practice Hispanic, pure and simple. If you want to know what mixture made you what you look, like, take your DNA test and don’t go by what Afro-centric (or Euro-centric for that matter) professors tell you”

    So true. That’s what I did and none of these people will tell me about myself – only I know myself. I am aware I have both European (51%%) , African (41%) and Asian (8% also known as ‘Native American/Taino’) ancestry. However, I think I have more Taino ancestry than that because on another test I took it came out to 27%. I am always being told I look Indian from India, which is why I decided to take these ancestral DNA tests. I’m still trying to get an accurate answer of my ancestry painting..

  • Bluetiful

    “who are white will tell you ” Oh no, I’m White, not Hispanic!” It’s the distance they put between themselves and the people they came from.”

    That’s not really true. Most white latinos will say “I’m not white, I’m (insert nationality here)” don’t believe me? Google: “I’m not white, I’m Puerto Rican” (with quotation marks) you can change the Puerto Rican to any other (Latino) nationality you wish so you can see it’s not only the black Latinos who deny being “black”. Replace the white with black and you will get the same results. Latinos don’t believe in race – we identify with our nationality/skin complexion. “Indio” is a skin shade/complexion which is often seen in official Dominican documents, the category “Skin complexion/color” replaces the “Race” category that is often used in America.

  • Bluetiful


    You’re welcome. =)

  • Carla McIntosh

    I think that a lot of you are forgetting that Dr. Gates is making a documentary about blacks and the black experience in Latin America with this being the first segment in the series, an island divided. Because of this he is focusing on the reasons for the tensions between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. As such, there was no need for him to explore other ethnicities, such as the Tainos, chinese, arabs or any other, in the Dominican Republic. Remember, this is a documentary about BLACKS in LATIN AMERICA!!!!

    I wish Dr. Gates would have included Costa Rica in this documentary.

  • Humberto Capiro (El Cibergues@)

    The style of music played is not a “merengue” but a “son” born in Cuba.

  • Karrel

    Thank you Prof Gates for this documentary. Very accurate and on point (those who question/ doubt it should do research). He interviewed one of the best authorities in the history of the Dominican Republic Frank Moya Pons (who wrote an amazing informative history book on DR). As much as this might offend some we can not hide the truths that are ingrained, and are the foundation of many of our cultures (no matter how ugly or pretty it might be). Can’t wait to see this journey unfold. PS if you do not agree than research in the library the information that Mr Gates offers. Lastly, Tainos were basically extinct due to disease brought in from conquerors; thus was the reason for bringing in African slaves (everyone wants to be Taino. They were killed off people. People would say anything not to be Black)). Research. Research

  • A.D. Powell

    This series is pure propaganda, which is to be expected from Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the foremost “one drop” advocate in the U.S.

    Gates constantly denounces the Dominican Republic for its mixed-racial identity and reverence for Spain as its motherland. Haiti, of course, can do no wrong because they are supposedly proud to be “black” and identify only with “Africa.” Gates also managed to ignore the 19th century wars and continuing social and political conflict between Haiti’s mulatto minority and black majority.

    While Gates goes out of his way to condemn Trujillo’s massacre of Haitians, he tries to justify Dessalines’ massacre of Haiti’s French population.

    He also manages to totally ignore Haiti’s long social and political conflict between the mulatto minority and the black majority. The mulatto elite in Haiti have cherished their French ancestry and culture just as much as the Dominicans cherish their Spanish ancestry and culture – and rightfully so!

    PBS should be ashamed for using our tax dollars to fund this “one drop” propaganda for Henry Louis Gates. Gates is always claiming that there is a “one drop” law in the U.S. There is no such thing. That’s why hardly any Latinos identify as “black” in the U.S. despite their widespread “black blood.” Only American blacks get upset at the idea of a mulatto identifying as multiracial or a “tarbrushed” white identifying as white. Now PBS sends this clown around the world to preach his “one drop” gospel. There is nothing wrong with people refusing to identify as “black.” There is plenty wrong with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Gates is a literal “black sheep” throwback of a mulatto elite family who could never please his very white, mixed-race father. He felt inferior and now wants revenge on all those “uppity mulattoes” in the family who looked down on him. Why should our tax money be used to indulge his inferiority complex?

  • Christian Encarnacion

    People let the taino thing go, they were an extinct race by the second inquisition of the Americas which is the reason the REAL inhabitants, todays inhabitants of the island are there today. Our ancestors were stolen from the west of Africa and put on the island to replenish the faded Indian population,and professor Gates did speak about the them,he said exactly what I’m saying now if you looked back at the piece. This denial of our blackness has to stop,we have the fifth largest diaspora of Africans outside of the continent and yet only 10 % of the island claims it. And incase you didn’t know Santo Domingo is a BLACK city. I wish afrocentricity was more mainstream on the island,we need it very desperately.

  • Delva just

    Dominican people are good people but they have been miseductaed as to what their cultural and racial heritage is. Their food , music and other pheno typyes are african, but they would tell you that they have nothing to do with Africa.That is the fault of some of culturally confused leaders including Trujillo who was 35% haitian who kept telling them that they were more “hispanic” and “indio”. The truth of the matter is that the most beautiful dominican women would not have been beautiful without their african dominant physical traits….( speaking from a man’s perspective)( no disrespect).

  • B. Good

    Is that right? Haiti has paid billions in reparations to to France? Incredible!


    Good documentary, though it only tells half the story: the Haitian story. That’s understandable since this is a documentary about blacks in Latin America, conducted by an African-American. See full documentary here…

    My issue is that right from the start, you question the identity of Dominicans, painting a negative picture of them by stating all of them reject their African ancestry. Not true at all. Then, only a handful of blacks are shown in the DR, as if all people there were black. Then, only impoverished areas of the country are shown, once again to show how similar these two countries are, when in fact, they couldn’t be more different. Why didn’t the producers show the bustling capital that is Santo Domingo with it’s opulent high rises, parks, shopping areas? How about the touristic destinations with majestic all inclusive five-star hotels, pristine beaches, world-class golf and friendly people. Puerto Plata, Samana, Jarabacoa, Punta Cana, Bavaro and La Romana, to name only but a few, are beautiful places in the DR. But your producers felt they could only show the “similarities” between the two countries, a handful of blacks practicing voodoo or dancing to “palos”.

    With your documentary, we learned a good deal of the Haitian history but not too much of the Dominican history. Why can’t Dominicans claim a Spanish heritage when the first settlers there were in fact Spaniards who later mixed with the native Tainos. Africans were brought in later as slaves by both Spanish and French and are in fact ‘part’ of the Dominican ethnicity and culture.

    Another discrepancy in the documentary (there are plenty more), is the music that is being played in the beginning by Francis Santana. It is not Merengue but “Son” which is a Cuban rhythm. The faster-paced “merengue tipico” or classic merengue includes “tambora” (cowhide drum), guiro and most importanly the accordion which is a French instrument. More elaborate forms of classic merengue might include the saxophone, a string instrument, maracas and marimba (a large box with metallic keys that produces bass sounds). Merengue is the name of a French dance which some say influenced the Dominican merengue music and dance. But of course all these dances, music and instruments sound the same to the Anglo ears this documentary is targeted to.

    I see this documentary as another attempt to bundle the two countries together, when in fact they are very different nations. DR on the East side with a growing economy, one of the best in the continent. The other to the West living in extreme poverty and unsanitary conditions. Dominican Republic is considered and third-world country in development, Haiti is a fourth-world country in need of help from the international community. Many organizations including the UN have hinted at wanting the DR to assume responsibility for Haiti, thus somewhat empowering Haitians to feel they can rightfully cross the border and claim what is “theirs”. Haitians have already started their deforestation practices in the DR, the same practices that devastated the Haitian countryside and natural resources many years ago.

    Not all Dominicans embrace the African heritage simply because not all Dominicans are of African descent.

    “Also, he didn’t mention how, in the contrary to the US, in Latin America with all the negatives, Blacks, Whites and Indians sit at the same table, eat the same food, go to the same parties and dance to the same music!” VERY TRUE.

    “I cannot count the number of articles/opinions/documentaries that have come out made specifically to convince Dominicans that they are in denial of their Blackness and must help & unite with their Haitian counterparts.” ALSO VERY TRUE. International organizations are pushing for the DR to assume responsibility for Haiti.

  • Sammy

    Why is everyone blaming Dr. Gates for making false statements . If you saw the documentary you will clearly see that he was speaking to historians and scholars . Yes Dominicans think they they are not black and always want to claim being Spanish/Taino . But the language does not dertemine the race . I am Dominican and everytime people hear me speak in spanish they have a puzzled look like how can this black mouth speak spanish so well ,or I don’t look Dominican which I find very ignorant . Finally the wake up call for all the simple minded has arrived . But as you can see on this thread more work need to be done . Thank You Dr. Gates

  • Aly Laurent

    I couldn’t understand why the Dominican at the end of the program was gloating about the cultural differences
    between the two countries, he had a huge smirk on his face while saying:
    1- In the DR, we are mulattoes. In Haiti they are black.
    2- We are catholics in the DR, they are Voodoo practitioners in Haiti.

    The truth is, Haitians are comfortable with their african heritage, while the Dominicans despise the Haitians,
    especially because we remind them too much of theirs. A black Dominican once told me: “I am not black, I am Taino.” I note that the man as black as I am. Go figure!

  • gsaint

    Jesus, this is hectic, and evidently driven to an unnecessary point of complexity. It is obvious to the naked eye that Dominicans are not pure white, black, nor Taino. Adding to that, what is pure in now a day modern times?, the whole world is a mixture ever since beginning of times, whether you believe we come from a monkey that branches out and diversifies through time, or a human race that branched from Adam and Eve.

    Yes it is true, the native Tainos of the island where exterminated with the coming of the conquistadores, but it is no secret that for decades, Spaniards raped more than just the lands natural resources, they raped the Indians as well and had a blast doing it. It does not take a genetic researcher to come to the conclusion that babies were born out of this and that still today there is Taino genetic material found in the Dominican blood; i mean if scientist could do a research, “the Human Family Tree” and find that a white man from Queens New York with an entire background of Irish blood, has straight lineage from black Africans, how can we presume that Dominicans have not even the smallest trace of Taino in them.

    Get over it, is not that we Dominicans don’t want to admit to our African heritage, why would we deny? It’s beautiful, unique, and spicy. However, we feel that there’s more to where we come from, I think that all Dominicans can agree in one thing, we come from a racial diversified mixture, product of unfortunate events that took place. So no, we are not going to say in any way that we are Africans. We are not. And no we are not going to say we are Spaniards, we are not. I love my neighboring Haitians brothers and wish them well, however, is not fair to glorify the Haitians proudness, and make note of the Haitian struggle with a rude introduction of an inaccurate description of the Dominican culture and its “black shame”.

  • Daniel B.

    Overall i think it was a good documentary. I do feel that certain aspects of both cultures were not fully addressed correctly.


    I think not mentioning the Tainos may have actually been a good thing. Dominicans have over emphasized Taino culture and influence while greatly under acknowledging the African culture and influence. The presence of Tainos culture has been a key factor in separating a great number of Dominicans from their blackness. Some comments on this forum show that a good number of Dominicans even after watching this documentary still feel darkening hues are primarily due to Taino bloodlines.

    I do however think he should have focused on relationships between lighter skinned or “whiter” Dominicans and darker skinned and mulatto Dominicans. I remember a few years back there were a good number of articles about Dominican(of African descent) models who dealt with a number of struggles to get work in D.R. Most of them attributed their difficult in finding work to their skin color.


    I don’t think enough was done to discuss the internal conflict that hit Haiti after the revolution. The struggle between the “mulattos” and “blacks” was basically ignored. A lot of political turmoil that Haiti has gone through was the result of this conflict and this conflict has helped play a role in the history of Haiti even up to today.

  • Yolanda

    I greatly enjoy this type of documentary, but often find myself second guessing most of the research when Haiti is fully victimized and Dominicans in Santo Domingo seem to be the only Dominicans in DR…Why not speak to those closer to the borders, those living in Monte Cristi, Dajabon, Villa Vazquez? The capital does not constitute the entire country.
    On the other hand, I fully related to the negation of my blackness and how I was raised to believe to be superior to the Haitian race, and I’m thankful to be educated today and see the situation for what it really is…I believe we (Dominicans) have anger and maybe even fear against a Haitian take over.

  • Rae

    I keep reading the same point over and over again about the Taino heritage. This documentary is not supporting or denying it; however, the purpose of this documentary is “BLACK” in Latin America. Every country is somewhat multiracial and is impacted by various groups. Haiti also had natives prior to the French and the Africans. Other groups migrated to Haiti at some point but the documentary is not about the make up of the land but the “BLACK” part of its people, culture and so on.

    Once people stop fighting their African heritage they won’t have that dire need to let everyone know that they are a Percent this and a Percent that. This was not the point of the documentary. If that’s what you are looking for, you should watch something else.

    By the way, Prof. Gates really visited two main areas in Haiti, Port au Prince and Cap Haitian and the close surrounding areas. He did not venture far out, he simply showed historic places which he did for DR.

    Great Job documentary.

  • Carlito

    In the United States, you must have a certain amount of blood lineage to be able to claim Native American descent. In the DR…all you need is to look brown to clain Tainos no matter how you get the brown skin.

  • Daniel B.

    I’m still waiting for this documentary to drop.

    Same topic but different people behind the camera. I’m not a Louis Gates lover by any means but i do feel he draws some valid conclusions and comparisons. However, due to multiple types and levels of racism, whatever conclusions he draws will be strongly contested by a good number of Latinos solely because of his “Americanized”(U.S.) perspective. I can’t wait to see what criticisms and rebuttals will be made by the Latino community to a documentary tackling the same issues but being scripted and directly by Latinos.

  • Katherine

    I grow tired of the same victimization of the Haitian people and the villification of the Dominican people. I seldom see an article or documentary display a fair comparison of the two nations. Yes, the Haitians have much to be proud of. Yes, there are racial tensions in BOTH the DR and Haiti (and the rest of the Latin America and other parts of the Caribbean…what can you say about the epidemic of skin bleaching in Jamaica?). It is a fact, however, that Dominicans view themselves as multiracial, and I do not see a reason for the push to get them to see themselves as exclusively black. I also think that it is inappropriate to call for two different countries with vastly different cultures (don’t even speak the same language!) to unite to form one country. Makes absolutely no sense.

    The documentary was a nice depiction of Haiti, though it only showed the usual, poorer image of Haiti. Any Dominican that can dance can tell you about how much of Africa is engrained in the music, in the culture. Merengue is only one genre of music that originated in the Dominican Republic. What else can be said of Los Palos?

    I’m pretty Afro-Centric and have battled Dominicans on other things, but I really am growing weary of people’s inability to grasp the concept of racial complexity.

  • PJP


  • stormi

    thanks 4 such an eye opene..although i was somewhat disturbed & appauled @ some of the dominican people.. who said they were not black and denied their beautiful black skin because the people who went to all theese countries as slaves are the origonal hebrews not the jews read the bible duetoronomy 28 (all) and also rev 2;9 and 3:9 then lets see how many will be glad to claim their african roots..wake up people..wake up!

  • Khadijah

    The truth of the matter that pervades all of the colonies (Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico and the U.S. colonies are the efforts of the colonizers to forever divide and destroy the African slaves they broght over from Africa have them fighting amongst themselves over color and culture so that it would be easy to dominate and control all of them and to get the dominant white looking groups to cooperate with the colonizers by allowing them a little better life and more opportunities as long as they maintained control of the majority of the people of color (the Africans and their descendants). It is so very sad that mulattoes and the white descendants of the Spanish, Portugese, French and English who intermarried each other or married the Africans but appeared more white-looking have chosen to consider themselves white because of the benefits and advantages they enjoy in mos societies, particularly in North, South and Latin America and the Caribbean. This was done so in many instances to their own ultimate detriment and that of their own native people. Racism prevails throughout the Americas today just as in the past, if we all want to admit the truth.

  • Jackie

    Great Work Im facinated watching Black in Latin America. I will learn more about my culture my roots
    And as well learn about multiple countries. But something that I find a Sad reality is Racism that still exist
    Eventhough we are all brothers an sisters. In our countries our ancestors fougth for equality and still is a goal that has not been reach.

  • Anita Wills

    Haiti & the Dominican Republic was an excellent series. I am a descendant of mixed raced Bonapartes, who arrived in South Carolina during the Haitian Revolution. I knew about the division of Hispaniola, into Haiti and the Dominican Republic but did not realize how deep the division was. The saddest part is that the Native people were either mixed out or wiped out by the Spanish and French. I enjoyed the touring of the two countries and how the cultural differences were pointed out. Also, that Dr. Gates pointed out the pros and cons of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. I am looking forward to the rest of the series, and I am going to purchase the set to show to my grandchildren.

    Two Thumbs UP!!

  • Melissa

    From the looks of the comments “Taino” is the new “Spanish”. Get over yourselves people. I am Dominican and the comments just add validity to the Dominican ignorance. Everyone wants to hide behind the truth. Stop hiding behind Washington Heights and visit a hicktown in Mississippi, you’ll be enlightened of how black you really are.

  • GabeTheFirst

    Dr. Gates,

    I really enjoyed your documentary. I am from Haiti but studying in the US. I have experienced first hand what racial discrimination is in the Dominican Republic. It is indeed very sad that they have suppressed their black heritage to such a degree. I understand that this generation has a chance to change their mentality. I don’t have anything against the Dominican people because this is what their parents and their grand parents taught them. But now it is their time to make a stand and embrace who they really are.

    Thank you very much for this eye opening documentary.

  • Tiffany Renee

    The series is titled BLACK In Latin America. Considering the the great majority of Haitians are Black, why would anyone expect the Dominican Republic to get more air time when a great majority of them (ratio wise), make it a point to distinguish themselves as not (just) black?

  • M. Dorsainvil

    Fascinating piece Dr. Gates, I will definitely buy the DVD. I just saw Black in Latin America (Cuba) and I can’t wait to see the one from Brazil.

  • Jose

    The Dominican Republic was not clearly portrayed in this documentary. Most of the focus was on Haiti while not fully addressing the great diversity of the Dominican people. We are two distinct people with different languages, customs, religious views, etc. Dominicans are very MULTICUTURAL and we are proud of that which is our biggest strength. We learned how to cope with our MULTICUTURAL identity which gave way to shape us as a nation.

  • Rasheed

    What an awesome documentary! I can’t wait to watch the rest of the episodes in this series! Dr. Gates needs to go to Puerto Rico too. Most Puerto Ricans are mixed and there is also a large black community in the town of Loiza.

  • Angela

    Dr. Gate:

    Thank you so much for bringing the Afro-Latin experience to “light”. Although I have known about blacks in certain countries, your document has made me curious. And because of this, I have found out that Argentina, “the whitest country in South America” has a Afro population that have contributed to the formation of Argentina as the world knows it. For example, I did not know the “TANGO” has African roots and that many of the tango waltzes were composed by Afro-Argentineans? Or that MANY Afro-Argentinean fought in the war of independence against Spain and later, in the many other wars Argentina had.

    Once again, I would like to say “thank you” for opening my eyes! Hopefully, you will have part II of the Afro-Latino experience in Latin America featuring countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia and others counties where there is a significant Afro-Latino presence.

    Here a link if anyone is interested in the present day blacks of Argentina:

  • Cash Marte

    I am a Black Dominican and I am very proud of my African ancestry as well as my Taino and whatever else i have in my blood. Im sick and tired of people portraying all Dominicans to be racist and ignorant when that is far from the truth. There are alot of families in D.R. especially poor families that take in homeless Hatian children as their own and raise them , but u wont hear about that in the media. Im not denying the fact that there is some racism in D.R. but racism exist evrywhere. There are also alot of Dominicans such as myself that are proud of there African ancestry. This Documentary did a great job on the Hatian segment but a terrible one on the Dominican part. Like many others have said already the music in the beginning was not merengue it was son which is from Cuba. If u listen to the real merengue or merengue tipico u can hear alot of African and carribean influence in it, and there have been merengue songs who”ve acknowledged that. Also, you cant expect every Dominican to say theyre black because D.R. is a very diverse coutry and a melting pot of different races. I think alot of Dominicans just wanna be known as Dominicans they dont want to be put in a white or black category they are just very proud of their nationality and u cant knock them for that.

  • Aly Laurent

    Daniel B wrote:
    “The struggle between the “mulattos” and “blacks” was basically ignored. A lot of political turmoil that Haiti has gone through was the result of this conflict and this conflict has helped play a role in the history of Haiti even up to today.”

    This is only partly true, the place Haiti would occupy in the world was decided right after 1804 by the major players of the time. Those powers were afraid that a successful Haiti would be a threat to their standing in the world, because they all had slaves and colonies. They thus put an embargo on the country that lasted forever, and imposed an indemnity worth $25 billion in today’s equivalent. This is not a free pass to the incompetence and corruption of past Haitian regimes, but the decks have always been stacked against us.

  • qahira el’amin.

    I think this series is wonderful. I lived in Brazil so I completely understand and respect the fact that racial identity is different in Latin America. That being said, the African cultural influence is also a lot stronger in certain Latin American and Caribbean nations than it is in the U.S.

    One reaction that confuses me are those who are upset that the indigenous component of Dominican heritage was not emphasized. Why is it so upsetting for some that the research was focused on how Africa influenced the DR? If the focus was on Spanish/European influences in the Dominican Republic no one would have dug up a scientific article to prove that they were more African.

    We also have the same issues with identity in the US but a different cultural/historical perspective. In most discussions about racial identity, most African Americans will bring up their distant native ancestors. According to my relatives, my great grandmother was 1/4 Blackfoot :) I kind of threw this in to be funny but in all seriousness- I don’t mention being “Indian” when describing myself because I don’t identify (nor am I knowledgeable) in any way with native customs and/or culture. That being said- race is a construct but it is alive and well in all parts of the world.

    My last point is I find it very strange that some Latin Americans think that black Americans do not understand their mixed heritage. Racial and cultural mixing is nothing new under the sun. In most places there is extensive racial mixing including the US. For example, if you look at some of the “black” firsts (first to integrate Ivy universities,president of NAACP, etc) they most certainly would not be black anywhere but the US. This comment too feeds into my previous point that race is a social construct.

    I know I’ve rambled a bit but I enjoy these discussions.

  • Jazzy Te

    @Gustavo De Pena its called “Black in America”. Yes DR is a country with some black roots but not as deep as the Haiti

  • Orlando Lee Rodriguez

    I thought it was ok. There were some glaring inaccuracies and omitted facts.

    For example, in August of 1865 two “Black” men (as defined by US standards) fought for and succeeded in liberating the eastern part of the island from Spain, under the Dominican flag. Eugenio Maria de Hostos, who started the Dominican public school system, described that movement as “the true independence of the Dominican Republic”. Hard to believe that Dr. Gates did not know this or was ignorant to the fact that up until 1899 the president of the Dominican Republic was black.

    This seems to me to be either not a well researched documentary or just the latest attempt at political manipulation by the black American community to divide and conquer Latinos of African decent; picking and choosing nationalities to embrace (Haitians, Cubans and Brazilians), in order to absorb them into the “African-American” community for US Census purposes.

    Just think the “father of black history”, Arturo Alphoso Shomberg, was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Yet Puerto Ricans were not covered in this documentary at all. Maybe its because they don’t follow the racist “one-drop-rule” and embrace ALL that they are, instead of just a politically mandated portion of it.

    There is a revolution going on and the mixed race identity of Latin America the threat. With the inevitable rise of Latinos, the white-black political/cultural order of the United States is on its way out.

    However, some would like it to stay forever. Sad.

    Orlando Lee Rodriguez
    CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
    New York City

  • PeeD’Arcelin

    “I would stop talking about the past, if it weren’t so present.”= Barthélemy Boganda, who was the founder of Central Africa
    It’s a Shame we all have eyes and ears but we still can’t see nor hear. As far as “blaming whites”? I saw no “Blame”, Just history! – Barthélemy Boganda said “I would stop talking about the past, if it weren’t so present”.
    Great Job Dr Gates!! and Thank You PBS!!

  • Leonardo Benzant

    i just wanna thank all those who contributed comments that support truth and you know who you are, i was checking out a comment by Elvin Ferreras and i really dug his brutal honesty and i particularly enjoyed the part where he breaks out into Dominican vernacular and where in Dominican he points out that ain’t gonna speak Spanish cuz he ain’t from Spain…another person commented that language does not determine race…its really refreshing for someone to point out that there are key differences that distinguish Dominican Vernacular from the Spanish “mother” tongue of Spain…there is a book all of you interested in race and also all of you in denial of your blackness, should check out called Muntu, i don’t agree completely with the book but in that books as well as in a book by Amiri Baraka at the time known as Leroi Jones wrote a book called Blues People, and i dare you to read those books and still see the world in the same way regarding race, i seems there are two dominant points of view, one is where folks emphasize differences such as that of nationality and then there are those of us in the Afro-Atlantic world who embrace the similarities of the African diaspora regardless of national differences, i’m not saying negate national and cultural distinctions but recognize that the white power was alway attempting to whiten history and also was and this is trying to divide us based on petty differences, the French and the Spaniards knew and the rest of them Europeans knew that they had their differences but they agreed on one thing: that is was all about exploiting the non-European peoples of the world particularly those of African descent, one more thing i’d llike to bring up or atleast question is the fact that very often what the African did in the New World was reconfigure their own cultural ideas and systems in such as way as to be able to appropriate for example European instruments and vocabulary while essentially remaining African in expression, in attack in approach, this is connected to what the brother said about speaking Dominican versus Spanish, one of the key distinquishing features of African culture is rhythm and rhythm is highly complex and sophisticated do your research, Europeans and Africans basically have two distinct paradigms, Europeans classical systems of music are emphasized and characterized by melody as being the dominant trait and rhythm is little more than a way of keep or marking time or transitions in the music whereas for the African Rhythm is a complex world or tone inflections and time-signatures and simultaneity of articulation that very wholistically relational, and dialogic, the speech of Dominicans embodies these traits of cadence and tonal inflection and all sorts of nuances that resemble a people who have more or less kept in tact their African grammatical language systems and syntax, but ofcourse they are using a Spanish vocubulary but its like hip-hop it takes the vocabulary of other world musics and genres and bends it to serve is own rhythmic/hip-hopified system of expression, notice the similarities and the traits that are consciously and unconsciously manifested in the the people of African descent throughout the New World, Dr. Gates hints at this when he points out in the Cuban episode that what “Santeros” call Elegua refers to the same Orisha of the Fon of the Yoruba and make the connections to Eshu/Exu in Brazil and Haiti and the similarities of those rituals, i don’t agree we should call it Santeria anymore and what i call it is Lukumi or Regla de Ocha but that is another story, the point is that there is a thread of similarities between us that would empower us if we embraced it while keeping out differences as well,

  • Lucia

    Great documentary, but the music played in the beginning of the show was Salsa not Merengue!

  • Stephanie B.

    Dr. Gates did an extraordinary job with presenting the rich history, culture, pride as well as differences among the two island nations that share Hispaniola! The harsh reality is many Dominican people do not recognize the strong African heritage that makes then who they are. This denunciation is so prominent that Dominicans would prefer to lay claim to being to an almost extinct Indian tribe known as the Taino Indians. “The concept of living Taíno has proved controversial, as the historical canon has for so long declared the Taíno to be extinct”. The truth is a vast majority of the Tainos people were plagued by disease, famine and population decline in the very early part of the 15th century. Furthermore, what was left of these people was so watered down by intermingling/marriage/breeding it is nearly impossible to be sure that this tribe still exists. The realism is a great number of Dominicans would choose to adopt Taino Indians as part of their present- day nationality, to further conceal their African roots and origin.

  • Riki Ricon

    Dominicans act as if Taino natives lived on only one side of the island. They did not. The lived on the whole island of Hispaniola. So where is the Taino influence in Haiti? It is non existent since the Tainos died off in the late 1700’s. The mixing in the DR comes from Spanish & African blood period. The word “Indio” in DR is used to describe a dark or brown person. That shade of brown comes from Mandingo not Taino.

    Great job Mr Gates.

  • Brooklyn

    To all the Dominicans that keep asking what about the Taino race, Taino isn’t a race. Tainos were the inhabitants of the island before Europeans and Africans were brought there. They were the original slaves to the Europeans who completely wiped them out before bringing on the Africans. It’s sort of like the Indio that is described in this story, the Taino’s would have made you Indios but truth is Taino’s did not exist in enough numbers to affect present day Dominicans. The ugly truth to you and the beautiful truth to the rest of us is you are of mostly AFRICAN descent which is why your skin is dark. say it with me Africa.

  • Loveandpeace

    @ Globalcitizen, Beyonce is not mixed she is completely black. Please do your homework before writing a comment. Regardless of mixed or not individuals black, white, chinese, mexican and so on should embrace who they are and not let this society dictate how they should feel about themselves based on the color of ones skin! The white man poisoned parts of the world from the very beginning and stupidity continues to feed this poison that white is right and anything else is wrong. Everyone human being is beautiful, period.

  • Yemmie

    The title of this documentary is “Black in Latin America”. Clearly the series will be about the African influence in the Caribbean, Central and South America. There is no denying any multi-ethnic heritage by Dr. Gates, just highlighting one part of that heritage and ethnic group. Many of the commentors seem to view any African contributions or ties as offensive and attempt to minimized African ancestry by bringing up other ethnic groups. What is so offensive about having African ancestry??

    Dr. Gates, thank you for your continuing work with the Encyclopedia Africana and continuing the dream of Dr. W.E.B. DuBois.


    I like what Juan D RAMOS had to say….out of all the criticisms I think he captured some of the best aspects of Gate’s Doc that needed to be critiqued. However, at the same time it seems like MANY COMMENTERS here including Juan, don’t understand the role of a man like Gate’s I dont want to disrespect him but at the same time if you are a person who is GENUINELY interested in black history….then do not focus on Gate’s work. Gate’s is good if you are naive uneducated and want to begin to open your eyes…but his work simply for the “big boys”. He is more of the “acceptable ” version of the black historians. Those that dig deep know EXACTLY what I am talking about..and those that don’t….well…if your so inclined ….SEEK AND YE SHALL FIND.

  • C Smith-Brown

    The documentary was very interesting and informative… however, our [Blacks/African Descendants] history and culture is too diverse to condense into a 1 or 2 hour summary. Africa and the diaspora have created such a vast expression of Blackness that it would take more than a lifetime to review and understand all the different versions expressed on the continent and throughout the Diaspora. So I am sure that much was left out because of the limitations of time; whether intentional or unintentional.

    Throughout the diaspora you will find people proud of the heritage, culture, and appearance; just as you will find those who would rather look and act like their enslaver and oppressor. This is not limited to the DR.

    It is said that with education comes assissimilation… that would depend on who educated you and what you were taught. But if the European/American institutions/concepts are you paradigm for how things should be, then it is very easy to distance yourself from your own identity and heritage; and to look upon it as backwards, ignorant, primitive, evil… to justify your own choices.

    Overall, I found the piece informative; but needing a broad and more indepth look into the past and present of the children of the African Diaspora and their evolved presence in the Americas.

  • Aris

    Recently I watched Prof. Gates’s other specials on tracing the roots of African Americans, it is clear that he affords the subjects in these programs an opportunity tap into their to exist in the border regarding their racial identity. They are given an outlet to express the nuances that exist beyond black and white and how these guide their identity. It’s a shame that Dominicans were not given the same respect. We are a complex people and country with multiple identities.

  • Matt

    I thought it was very interesting not only watching the documentary but reading all those comments. Being the son of a Dominican mother raised in the US (allá) I have the unique perspective of seeing the issue from both sides. My wish is they could translate this so all the Quisqueyanos know the truth. Those who claim Tiano blood I hate to break it to you but Columbus’s brother Diego and the rest of the Spanish killed them off through disease and slavery by 1530. So assuming you came from Tiano blood 500 years later after 20 generations you are talking about tenths percentage point Tiano. Its almost sad seeing how everyone there strives to be more white They hate their kinky hair and admire those with cabello bueno (Good Hair) But in their socio/economic system the whiter you are the more well off you are. Just goto Diamond Mall in Santo Domingo for an expample of white upper crust Dominicans.

  • Angela

    Orlando Lee Rodriguez :

    Actually Schomberg founded the institute for Black/ Puerto Rican studies because HE was told “blacks have no history”. He knew, as a BLACK MAN, it wasn’t true. And, for the record, Schomberg identified himself as Afro-Latino.

    Also, I would like to ask ALL Latinos who identify Spain as the “Motherland” would you go to Spain and tell a Spaniard that YOU are “Spanish” too? I can tell you, you would not, because the Spaniard is VERY funny about anyone from the ” former colonies” saying they are “Spanish and shares their culture”. The Spaniard is European and he will NEVER let people from Latin America forget it!!!

  • A Jungers

    I greatly appreciated the analysis and history that went into this. It points out that racism is very much an economic reality not based on true racial identity. It also give the reasons for the abject poverty present in Haiti. The Dominican Republic is so closely related and identified with the United States. It is no accident that many of our baseball greats come from the DR. They are surprised to find in this country that they are Black. The duplicity of our state policies over the centuries going back to our founding fathers is despicable, right up to the support of Trujillo and the Duvaliers.

  • rubi87

    I think there are some valid criticisms, that’s why some people are upset. Gates speaks from his point of view, which is limited to American perspective. In the questions he asks and comments he makes reveal a certain point of view or bias, part of which is the idea that one drop of blood makes you black. Gates had his DNA tested and he is 49% white, has some genes from Ireland which he actually shares with the cop who arrested him. He only seems interested in things related to blackness, which is fine but sometimes is not the whole picture. In fact, at times it almost makes him seem racist. His behavior in the incident with the white cop seems like it was inappropriate. Latin people are proud of ALL of their heritage, and do not like it when people keep saying Tainos are extinct. This keeps getting repeated from history books which are outdated and MITOCHONDRIAL DNA is what some of you need to read about. Descendants of the Tainos live in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Cuba. If more research were done on the Atlantic Coast of S America they will find more of their descendants in more countries. That they have mixed blood with other races does not negate their existence. I would be upset too if people kept saying part of my genetic and cultural heritage was extinct. There are Taino words, Taino musical instruments, place names, etc. and they should be preserved and appreciated, not dismissed with one word. I’m not surprised that some latin people get offended when American black/white dichotomy is applied to their country. Latin people come in all different colors and mixed heritage and they are proud of it. Someone from outside trying to say you should be identifying as black, or you are acting not black enough, is an oversimplification of the reality. The program does make some good points and there are indeed many remnants of racism in latin america both economic and cultural, but in general people acknowledge mixed heritage, not only black heritage. Dr Gates tries to say that 500+ plus years of mixing has not eliminated racism, however I think he ignores the other side of the coin that 500+ years of mixing has indeed resulted in latin people’s attitudes being very different from USA. However due to not being latin or Spanish speaking there are some subtleties he does not acknowledge or perhaps not aware of.

  • dudeluv

    @Youseline Sorry the tainos were long gone

  • Allen

    After watching the program, I read up some on the DR and from what I’ve been reading, DNA testing has shown that 15% of the population has some Taino ancestry. I’m African-American and to me this seems similiar to what many African-Americans have been told about their ancestry. Many of us have believe we have some Native American ancestry. While that may be true, only a small percentage of African-Americans have a significant percentage of Native-American ancestry. In reality most African-Americans don’t look like pure Africans because they have varying degrees of European ancestry with a relatively small percentage having a significant percentage of Native-American ancestry. The majoritiy of the Dominicans don’t look like pure Europeans because they have varying degrees of African ancestry with a relatively small percentage having a significant percentage of Taino ancestry.

  • Mayah

    Very well done Dr. Gates. I truly enjoyed this documentary and I am looking forward to the remaining installments.
    @Jose Lopez: You and several other commenters on this board continue to advise on racial identity issues amongst U.S. Blacks as if Dr. Gates somehow missed this issue. Have you ever seen “Black in America I or II?” In each of those documentary series Dr. Gates discusses the continuing racial identity, racial, social and economic issues plaguing blacks in the U.S. Yes, many U.S. blacks also like to claim they have “indian in their family.” To which, Dr. Gates responds in “Black in America” that only 11% of Black Americans actually do have Native American blood leneage. I guess he set us straight (or pulled the splinter out of his eye); now on to Latin America.

    This documentary series was entitled “Blacks in Latin America.” And you can only guess what it was about.

    Also, for those commenters who continue to point out the Taino bloodline in the Dominican racial makeup, if it exists, it is miniscule. There has not been an infusion of pure Taino blood in the Dominican Republic for more than four centuries; that is over four hundred years. Even given the exchange of Taino genes, the Taino bloodline has been significantly diluted by the repeated infusion of European and predominantly African blood from intermixing over the last four hundred years. This would make Dominicans predominantly mixed White and Black, but most would prefer to self-identify as White or Taino. This is a blatent denial of their African heritage.
    It is not reflective of a mixed consciousness, but an outright identity crisis. The reality is in the DR one can trick himself that he/she is other than what he is, but outside of the country a person from the DR will be considered Black; not just in the U.S. but all over the world.

    Also, saying that the embrace the African cultural elements (music, food, dance, etc.) means Dominicans are accepting of their African racial identity, is like saying a Japanese person who dances hip hop or a white person with dred locks is black. Race and culture are two different things. Race is a matter of consciousness and not just the things you do or the way you live.

  • Clnmike

    You cant really tell the whole story of both nations in one hour but this was a good attempt.

  • rich

    As proven by many people from DR on this forum by their comments, they are willing to stake claim to a tribe that disappeared from the Hispaniola island hundreds of years ago, but cannot embrace their African Heritage. The Tainos didn’t just live in DR, they also lived in Haiti. Haitians are not claiming to be Tainos, though. By The Way, the documentary is called Blacks in Latin America, not Tainos in Latin America. Get a clue!

  • Wilson Adames

    I can’t help but wonder how it would be like the other way around. That is, for a white person to make a documentary on being white in latin america. Hoping that the documentary would be made following the professor’s visual style and academic viewpoint.

  • ibis

    I am cuban. I watched the series hoping to see positive views of black latin cultures in all its diversity. While historically accurate and valid, It sseems that Prof Gates went only to find racism and not who we are. I was disappointed to see how judgemental he was both in the DR and Cuba. Neither Cubans or Dominican’s of african decent deny it. What perhaps is left out is the fact that most of the are mixed,..such as myself. What of mulattoes such as myself ? I felt insulted by the idea that we dont know who we are. We do. Our cultures do play a greater significance in our lives, why vilinize this? We can embrace the “other” , I think that was misinterpreted by Prof Gates. The cultural component is important to us, It can not be discounted as secondary. That is especially true for those of us who reside in the US, since immgration is a major issue for us and not for African Americans. There is so much beauty and depth to our cultures, I wish our warmth and harmony( even in the worst of cirucumstances, racism in latin america is incomparble with the US) and love for our countries had been the focus. The feeling to me has been one of superficial judgement not investigation or analysis. What of the Black Cuban doctors and teachers?. The piece on Cuba started with a santeria ritchual. Is that all you know if us, really?

    there is nothing wrong with us. The US is increasing more diverse everyday. I feel that what is true in latin America today, will be true in the US tomorrow. No disrespect to Prof Gates, but there is something about the latin culture that only latins can understand.

  • AlwaysSearching

    Great documentry Dr. Gates! It was really informative.

    I was raised in California and I really didn’t know any people of African descent from Latin America, during the 60’s. It was always so curious to me that the few I would meet didn’t embrace what was so obivously their heritage. Since we weren’t taught AA history and knew nothing of AA Latin-American history. This documentary has opened my eyes at the complexity of race and influences of colonial powers.

    The devastating earthquake in Port-Au-Prince really brought Haiti and its people to the forefront in the news. Since Dr Gates travelled outside of the capitol it showed the beauty of Haiti and explained many historical aspects which the Haitians should truly proud of. Last year we travelled to La Romana, DR where my son and his wife wed. We then travelled all over beautiful DR and spoke to many Dominican people but I noticed that there was the superior attitude of Dominican over the Haitians.

    For those here who keep mentioning their Taino heritage and that it was ignored in this documentary, remember this was about “Blacks in Latin America”. Be proud of all parts of your heritage.

  • Elizabeth Herrera

    May 2011
    Dear Dr. Gates, hello and thank you for your wisdom in creating this story. Two decades ago I wrote a poem called ‘Hispanic..” it resulted in a literary journalism scholarship for me, a struggling student at a four year university and the byproduct of first generation American Hispanic with biracial parents, according to world views. At the time I was going thru this Americanized and colonialism war of the black vs. white tone of your skin and what your identity means globally. This poem was a success because in it a shared with America a vision of my own internal feelings and understanding of how we start out in the human race. See, I knew then that I was Hispanic and that it meant that we have no boundaries. I identified with my ethnicity which is a byproduct of mixed races. So, irrespective of what those colors on the skin may be; I am first and foremost human. With grandparents that are indigenous, Caucasian and black; there is was no meaning of racism and one sided self-identify. I choose to learn more about all the races, a Black, Latin American and European studies just confirmed what was practiced in my household. I hope that as a result of your documentary others will do the same… learn, visit the museum of Taino and Cacique Indian in the Dominican Republic and all of the other respective Latin American Nations. I embraced by African roots as well by learning that history also and now sharing both with people from other cultures. It sad to say but most university graduates don’t take history course or two for that matter. The challenges remain; I often get the stereotypes and misconceptions thrown at me but guess what… I just challenge everyone to travel, learn and share before your place misconceived judgments that only hurt others. Finally I’d like to ask, where were the French when Haiti needed them, they colonized and then what? Spain continues to have relations with Dominican Republic as do other European nations. In closing, there are just some conversations that I won’t entertain and race wars is one of them.

  • Orejon

    Judging from the comments, I expected this to be far more biased than it actually is. The fairest statement is that it gave less of a review of the DR than it does to Haiti. He does not demonize Dominicans as villains. That being said, I want to address a couple of common themes I have heard throughout the thread that I take issue with.

    1) Re-watch the beginning of the video: at NO POINT does Dr. Gates state that the music you are hearing in the background is merengue. He simply talks about merengue as the music that is central to the national identity and consciousness of Dominicans. The musician he is talking with who comes on camera to explain merengue’s importance, however, is shown with his band playing salsa (NOT the same as guaguanco, which is a component of Afro-Latino music, but is not salsa.).

    2) He does note several things that people on this thread appear to have conveniently forgotten. He clearly mentions Dessalines’ massacre of the French; he does not treat it as just, but has a historian put it into the context of the intense fear and hatred the Haitian revolutionaries had for slavery. He mentions that Dessalines’ own co-leaders assassinated him. He mentions that Dominicans were the first on the scene to help Haiti after the earthquake. He does not say that ALL Dominicans are in racial denial. That phrase was spoken by a Dominican academic and a Haitian former ambassador. He specifically shows a Dominican cultural society that specifically embraces the African musical traditions (somewhere around the 12th minutes or so, I haven’t taken the time to re-play it). Both the Haitian former ambassador and the Dominican historian talked about the greater degree of race-mixing on the DR side of the island (although it also exists in Haiti as well, proof being the relatively fairer-skinned academics he meets, even on the Haitian side, despite their greater identification with African culture and heritage). They placed the higher-degree of race-mixing and differing racial sensibilities in historical context as flowing from differing agricultural economic systems in each nation (plantation vs. cattle). Again, RE-WATCH THE VIDEO.

    3) The point of the show is to discuss the specifics of the BLACK experience in Latin America, and the various tensions and similarities between among these countries and the US as well, to help the viewer make sense of it. It is NOT INTENDED to be an encyclopedic history of all aspects of each nation under study. I welcome a discussion of the indigenous contribution to Latin American culture as well, as it is certainly staggering, particularly in Central and South America, but that is beyond the scope of this series. That being said, the Tainos were largely killed or died from disease exposure. Those that survived this period were, in fact, absorbed into the population (and hence the DNA) of the Spanish colonialists, the African population and the offspring of those two groups. But this contribution is in no way determinative of the phenotype of Dominicans, which is largely the result of Spanish and African intermingling coupled with occasional influxes of other immigrant groups. However, the intensity and virulence with which many on this comment thread attack both the show and, on a more troubling level, Prof. Gates himself, seems to me to be indicative of some extreme sensitivity on the racial question. Being both black American and Spanish-speaking, I don’t have a problem with the material presented. I have long noticed the difficulty with which many Afro-Latinos and the broader Latin American society address the issue of race. And not solely with regard to people of African descent, but those with indigenous ancestry as well. The desire to identify with the European heritage is a universal among non-European colonized and/or conquered people. Haitian mixed-race elites and fair-skinned African-American families also exhibit many of these same tensions, although, because of US social history and the “one-drop” standard applied in the US, they have had to “be black” and develop some sort of racial consciousness, if for no other reason than the fact that it was the reality they had to live under.

    That is why I find the Haitian discussion so interesting. The greater degree of African consciousness is perhaps both a function of their near complete degree of African genetic/racial heritage (to the extent that race even exists) and their own conscious rejection of “European-ness” it as a component of their struggle for independence and need to galvanize disparate groups of African slaves into a unified fighting force and nation.

    The bias I observed was slight and could be rectified with more extensive coverage of the DR side of the island and its regions. I hope everyone continues to watch and uses this as a set piece to begin greater discussion.

  • Ericka Saintvil

    I am a haitian american both my parents are haitian over all I liked this documentry except for the annoying voodoo part they always some how put that into anything about Haiti really not feeling that stuff. Anyways some dominicans are in racial denial from the ones I’ve talked to before, be mindful that I wrote down some not all but anyways whoever wrote that comment about how for 22 years Haiti was in charge of the DR I dont recall us doing anything wrong although Im just 13 going to be 14 in a couple of days YEAH!! Ive done a lot of research on stuff like and Ive never found anything bad about it plus haitians aren’t very racist people a rotten apple always spoils the whole bunch and even if you’re only 10% black who cares you have it in you im 25% white french from my grandpa’s side but then again I look 100% black and either taino native or someother european from my late grandma’s side hmm Ima ask my great aunt. Anyways Haiti&DR all day everyday <3

  • Carlos R.

    Professor Gates is THE preeminent scholar in African-American studies in the world. Now, he is the preeminent scholar in Africano-Americano studies too. Therefore, will everyone who keeps stating that he should have looked at the indigenous populations, and he should have done more to criticize the current political situations, and he should have looked at the rural population better, and he should have done this and he should have done that, etc., please come to appreciate what he accomplished within his criteria and constraints. He did what he set out to do, he did what his entire academic career has trained him to do. He focused on the history of Africans in the New World, and since most of the Latin American countries that he examined have historically ignored and marginalized that ethnic group, I say kudos and gracias and obrigado to Dr. Gates.

  • Waskar Veloz

    Good job Professor but as several people did point out, it portrays the Dominican Republic negatively. Although I am Dominican, I am cognizant of my African ancestry and believe me there are many Dominicans that are. Unfortunately, you should’ve realized that the same interests that controlled the Dominican Republican and Haiti then, still control it today. Thus, as an educator and an African-American, you know that liberty does not come to people unless it’s educational and that’s what our people are missing. You can rebuild Haiti all you want but without an educational system to uplift these citizens from oblivion then it’s the same thing as rebuilding Haiti when it became independent in 1804. Furthermore, my Dominican brothers have a lot of soul searching to do but this is also attributed to ignorance and lack of education. Our two countries suffer from at times inept governments (some more than others) that utilize the masses as their tools for getting reelected. For those of us living in the United States and abroad, who have been able to benefit from a “first-world” education, our jobs should to bring consciousness and awareness to those missing it and when we are in their vicinities not put them down and instead show them the power that comes with being an education person. Great documentary, it brings nostalgia of past days when we were willing to take bigger risks and dream BIG: we don’t do that anymore and perhaps we ALL have some soul-searching to do, in order to see if the lives we are living out today are a testament or an embarrassment to the memories of those men and women who died for us all over the world. Thanks.

  • Johnny Gil

    Thank you Jorge estevez for being the only one, I read, who mentioned some kind of DNA study.

    As a Dominican, I don’t like being pigeonholed into one racial identity. I accept my African, European and (yes!) Taino heritage. We cannot assume they simply disapeared. They mixed, just like the balck and whites that settled on the island. I had blood work done and, to my surprise, discovered I had traces of Native American. That could only have been from the Taino. Does this negate the observations of Professor Gate and his guests? No! Dominicans do need to confront their “blackness”. However, those who throw it in our faces run the risk of insulting our “mixed race” identity, so fundamental to our national and cultural psichy.

  • Johnny Gil

    Professor gates,

    For the love of God, please do a full length documentary on the Dominican Republic and settle the matter once and for all. Visit all points, north, south, east, west and central. Do some DNA testing of the population while you’re at it. Interview elite, commoners, intelectuals, expatriots, etc.

    Also, whatever the music was, it certainly was not Merengue. Get a CD of Merengue Tipico to hear it in raw form. The traditional instruments are acordion (European), tambora (African) and guira (Taino).

  • Fabiola Alouidor

    Professor Gates,
    thank you for this documentary. I am Haitian. I’ve been in the States for a year now. I came after the earthquake. The first thing I am grateful for about this documentary is that I could see my country again. Second, a little revision about my history was very helpful. The roots of folklore and creole are amazing. I’m glad I could learn more about them through this. And I needed to know more about the DR’s history and their relationship with Haiti. I am also thankful that they were the most active into helping Haiti after the eq.
    Thank you again!

  • Tina

    Ok what I see on this board a whole bunch of Dominicans that are in denial. SMH

  • Maricarmen Martinez

    Dear Professor Gates,

    Have you considered documenting” Black in Puerto Rico, USA?. Our colonial status would bring interesting intellectual challenges!

  • Robert

    Dear Professor Gates,

    I am Dominican-Cuban born Canadian, and I had seeing your 2 documentary (The Haiti-Dominican Republic and the Cuba one). I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate you for these master’s reportages.

    I believe that you had been to be as much neutral as possible. Is very sad to hear from a ‘foreign’ (non-Dominican) about how during centuries Dominican people have been not taught about the importance of their outrageous African heritage. I was raised in Santo Domingo, and even though I had a good education, none of my historian Dominican books said or taught about the importance of the African culture to the Dominican Republic. Always, the Spaniard side of the history was the predominant. Thankfully, I had an amazing parents whose taught me the true: Europeans do not “discovered” (as we were taught) a ‘The New World’, they just INVADED these lands, without asking for permission to the First Nations (aboriginal people). Therefore, killing, submitting and culturally transforming thousand of years of culture and land ownership of the aboriginal people in their lands.

    In relation to your documentary, I have to inform you that you made a mistake or your were not properly told that the music played, at the beginning of the Haiti-Dominican Republic documentary, is NOT MERENGUE. They were singing Son (Cuban music). Is sad because it might led to the Elite Dominican Class to diminish your documentary, arguing that you dont even know what is the Dominican music: Merengue.

    Also, you miss to mention that Dominicans were also forced to paid, within Haitians, when Haiti invaded us, the “damages” to France caused by the Haitian independence.

    Nonetheless, congratulations for the effort on bringing the Dominican shame of its African heritage issues to the rest of the world.

  • Mike

    Dominican historians have portrayed the Haitian invasion as cruel and barbarous, but what they failed to realize is that The Haitian President (Jean Pierre Boyer) freed them from slavery – The reason Dominicans behave that way is because they are in denial of the truth. They forgive Spain who enslaved them, who stole their resources and they point all their angers toward the Haitians who invaded them in hope of keeping slavery out of the whole Island.

    For crying out loud, Haiti was also invaded by The United states of America between the years of 1915-1934 in order to keep the Germans out. Invasions are never done without casualties and mistreatment; needless to say that many Haitians have died, mistreated during that period. Should we hate the Americans for that? It was not the United States of America who put Haiti through Slavery and who stole all the resources; it was the French….If Haiti had to hold grudges, it would not be against the Americans, it would be against the French Army and Napoleon.
    That is the problem with Dominicans, they hold grudges for something that happened over 100 years ago….

    Read History of Haiti/Hispaniola

    Trujillo massacre of Haitians
    Dominicans love to talk about the Haitian’s invasion but they never talk how they have killed 20,000 – 30,000 Haitians and black Dominicans in hope of erasing their African’s origin. “In October 1937, Dominican President Rafael Trujillo ordered the execution of the Haitian population living within the borderlands with Haiti. The violence resulted in the killing of 20,000[1] to 30,000[2] Haitian civilians over a span of approximately five days. “

    New Dominicans
    Dominicans even take their bias views to the digital world; take a look at this Wikipedia article to see how they have purposely write articles to blame Haitians for the invasion.

    Also – Méringue, also spelled “Mereng” in Creole, is a music genre native to Haiti (West Hispaniola). It is musically and historically connected to Dominican Merengue. No one can tell for sure who created it but read this article you will see how the Dominicans wrote it to purposely deny credits to Haitians.

  • osvaldo lora

    The D.R. is actualy the most african place of the whole series you should really do some real research on the country i thin k that episode did not do any justice and actualy offended the african culture of the D.R.

  • Claudio Perez

    The first blacks to arrive in the new world went to Dominican Republic, long before there was a Haiti. The haitians invaded DR in 1801 under Toussaint; in 1805 under Dessaline; and in 1822 under Boyer. Then in 1844 dominicans declared war to Haiti and this war lasted 13 years. We defeated the haitian army, bigger and better equiped; that where dominican pride comes from; we EARNED our freedom unlike blacks from other countries, that had to be “emancipated”. The Spanish army of the 19 century employed high ranking black dominicans officers that fought and won wars in Africa and in Europe. Moreover, black dominicans were the commanders of white spanish soldiers. Black dominicans went to Cuba and Puerto Rico to fight the Spainiards. In Cuba, black dominican soldiers fought in favor of the Cuban Independence and in favor of the Spainiards as well. The Spaniards knew first hand what black dominicans are all about. Black dominicans historically could BEAR ARMS, marry white women, teach in the University; become priest, etc. etc.
    I feel sorry for people like prof. Gates who are haunted by a RACIAL PREOCUPATION, and want to contaminate other blacks that did not experience the venom of discrimination and prejudism. Thank you.

  • Santos

    In the early years of 1800, Haiti was a force in the Caribbean that many countries looked up to, it helped many countries gain their independence (read about Simon Bolivar). The Haitians hated Slavery so much that they have abolished it in the entire island – When words of the French and Spaniards were coming to retake the other half of the island, the Haitians invaded Dominican Republic in order to prevent slavery from ever resuming in the island. In the present day, Dominicans’ lacks of understanding of the invasion have caused them to develop negative sentiments toward Haitians. In attempt to humiliate Haitians, Dominicans have claimed that they are a mixture of Spaniards and Indigenous– They have completely rejected their African’s heritage and have embraced the Spaniards who have enslaved and rejected them for many years.

    Think about it, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that the people of the Caribbean and South American countries are a mixture of Indigenous, Africans, and Europeans. Both Haiti and the Dominican Republic underwent the same treatment of colonization and slavery, but the majority of Dominicans have the tendency of treating Haitians as if they were the ones who brought these cruelties to the island. Talking of cruelty, In October 1937, Dominican President Rafael Trujillo murdered 20,000 to 30,000 Haitian civilians over a span of approximately five days. Despite this gruesome and barbaric act, the majority of Haitians don’t have negative sentiments toward Dominicans; they simply see it as the past.

    Today, if you ever live in Haiti and the Dominican Republic – If you take out the language difference you will realize that these two countries are exactly the same. It just that Dominican Republic’s economic situation is better and Haiti’s government can’t seem to get their act together. The recent years of political problems and instability in Haiti force Haitians to play a major role in today’s Dominican Economic growth; they are major investors and large importer, many Haitians also live and go to school in DR.

  • A Jungers

    It will be interesting to see an episode on Puerto Rico, if one is planned. It is Latin America, with a large Black population, but being American citizens their take on race is different from that of the DR or Cuba, with whom they share a joint Caribbean heritage. Dominicans can justly be proud of their Taino heritage, and most have a trace of that genetically, but as a distinct indigenous population that people was largely extinct by the end of the 17th century, being assimilated by the larger African population, unlike Brazil where there is a large indigenous native population to this day, although it has the largest Black population outside of Africa.
    It would also be interesting to explore the Black experience in terms of Catholicism, which is as distinctive as the fusion of the African religions in Santeria, Voodoo, and Cadomble. Balance is important.

  • Luis

    A great documentary – as Dominican myself, I can confirm the discrimination directed against the Haitians in the Dominican Reoublic. It is also true that the Dominicans are in denial about their African features. The treatent of Haitans in the Dominican Republic is aplauling. I must say, however, that I sense a sort of bias in favor of Haiti. Mostly accurate, however. Thank you, professor Gates, for looking into this significant subject.

  • William Ozier

    What a wonderful and informative documentary. Keep doing what you do Prof Gates!!!

  • Negliberte

    Prof. Gates;
    Thank you. It takes a great man to tell a great story, like it is. The world needs to know the true history of the Republic of Haiti; we are very proud and rich people.

  • Kendra HL

    This whole series has opened my eyes to a whole “new world”. I was shocked when I learned the history of Hispanola from the Black point of view. In our American textbooks, they never mention some of the horrific events that occurred in Haiti and the Dominican Republic’s history in relation to each other. I am the child of a DR & PR mother and an African-Amer. father, and TRUST me, the stigma in some parts of DR that black is bad and/or ugly is so true. My great-grandmother would not even acknowledge my siblings and me because we had “bad hair” (which to Blacks in the US is “good hair”) and because we are not caramel colored. She disowned my grandmother for marrying a Black-Puerto Rican and treated my mother and her siblings very poorly as well. Its really disgusting and confusing to me because she is Black also (about the color of President Obama).

    Bravo to Mr. Gates for bringing some of these issues to light, although I will say, that an unfair amount of time was spent on Haiti’s coverage vs the Dominican Republic’s coverage.

  • Amarilis

    I liked the documentaries on Brazil and the DR and Haiti. I have to agree with some people that somehow the documentary is biased. I seemed to me that the professor did not say much positive things about the Dominican culture as he did about the Haitian. I’m from Puerto Rico and I have known Dominicans all my life and I can say not all of them were denying their black race, although what he said is true. The same thing happens in Puerto Rico. People get so confused when identifying with one race or another instead of identifying with the two most prominent, which are black and white, but then again, so many people I know are at ease with themselves and their black heritage and do not make a fuss about their color or try to put down someone because he/she is white. I would not say aboriginal (Taino) blood was lost altogether, but certainly the other two races are more visible in the population of the Caribbean. I don’t undertand why some people are talking about Tainos when the show focuses on black heritage exclusively. Someone said that having names for all the degrees of color is being obsessed with race. I would say it is rather a reaction to diversity; the diversity is so great that people make up different names to describe different attributes. And I was stunned when at the beginning, the professor was listening to music and he said it was “merengue”, when it was “son”. And none of his guides corrected him!! That was weird, since Dominicans are very proud of their music.

  • Cherer Andre

    I really like this documentary. I think Professor Gates is doing a great job. This documentary is really informative. I emigrated to America two years ago. When people ask me where I come from I say Haiti and than they say “oh, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere,” which is true. But why do they always focus on the poverty and forget about the positive things of this nation? In this documentary people can learn about Haiti and Dominican Republic. Two wonderful countries.
    Thanks Professor Gates

  • Chelsea George

    Thanks for posting these full episodes. Every program is extremely interesting and informative, but I was especially interested in the one on Haiti and the Dominican Republic because I have spent the most time in those two countries. My husband is Haitian, but we met in the D.R. It’s sad to see how the Haitians are treated by their neighbors because the two cultures have a lot in common, as well as sharing the island. Professor Gates brings up a lot of interesting topics regarding blacks in Latin America — are they Spanish or are they black — or both?

  • Blackheywood

    [Ok what I see on this board a whole bunch of Dominicans that are in denial. SMH]

    I agree,based on the denials Professor Gates documentary is spot on. It was also interesting finding out the role the US plays in Haiti still being an impoverished nation.

  • Landis

    For those people who are asking about the Tainos, the Tainos were decimated by European diseases, and that’s why the Spanish brought Africans to the island. And another thing, the Tainos were native to the whole island (Hispaniola), not just DR, so some Haitians may have some Taino blood as well. In fact, eventhough the DR talks a lot about its supposed Taino heritage, it has a Spanish name. On the other hand, Haiti named itself after a Taino word (meaning Mountain I think). And whoever said that Dominicans’ mother land is Spain is not completely accurate. If u say that the Dominicans are a mixture of Africans, Spaniards, and Tainos, then only “some” Dominicans can claim Spain (or other European countries) as their motherland. Many others should claim Africa as their motherland, while a few can claim Hispaniola itself. The majority should probably claim Africa & Europe, or all 3. I mean seriously, is someone going to tell me that David (Big Papi) Ortiz’s and Vladimir Guererro’s motherland is SPAIN and not AFRICA??? Come on people.
    And didn’t the Haitians invade the DR to free the slaves there and defend the island (Hispaniola) from European invasion and the possible return of slavery? What are they teaching at schools overthere in the DR???

  • Sili

    So many comments. So many people who refuse to see what they are. I am Dominican. I have had to struggle and argue with people in the United States to prove my “blackness” because I speak a different language. Those that never hear me speak the language presume that I am just a “red bone”. Yet the minute I utter a word in Spanish, my blackness is denied.

    So I have to fight with the African American who sees themselves as “blacker” due to the social experience in the US. And then I have to turn around and try to educate my own people. No, Dr. Gates did not go into other cities in the Dominican Republic. You can’t do that in an hour. What he did do, however, was have a conversation with a Dominican anthropologist that was able to provide not just the anthropological context but the personal experience. The truth is, that most Dominicans don’t acknowledge they are black and don’t even realize it until they step foot outside of their country and are hit with the realization based on how others treat THEM. That “black” has been systematically demonized in a way that has allowed ignorance to continue to grow (thank you Trujillo).

    My motherland is NOT Spain. That’s like African Americans stating that their motherland is England. I consider myself predominantly black. Everything else is icing on the cake. Like someone else said, it’s a matter of social consciousness and you have to be educated enough and open enough to the concept in order to accept it. Identifying with one does not negate the rest. But to ignore the fact that we, as a country are black when 90% of the population is clearly mixed to varying degrees is simply absurd. And the Taino references? That’s so far gone it doesn’t even deserve to be addressed. Just because Trujillo decided that your documents defined you as “indian” meaning the color of your skin does not make you a Taino.

  • Godizlove

    very good piece. First of all there are people all over Latin American with very very very dark skin. Are they Taino?? I do not understand why some of these comments talk about Dominicans being Taino. Note the blackness in the skin of Tainos or other Indians that is the result of Africans mixing with white. Quick lesson. Whenever you see a brown or tan person or a person of color there is always a mixture of black (African). Simple science lesson. The lightness and darkness of the skin depends on how much white or black that a person is mixed with. There is no such race as Taino Indian or Spanish. It doesn’t matter how you talk. Race is not based on where u are from. That is simply your nationality or ethnic background. Just a shame that some want to acknowledge their ‘nice brown color’ or tan color but do not want to accept the African part of that mix. You want to accept the white part of the mix but not the black. There are many Blacks in America and other Caribbean Islands that have white and ‘Indian’ in their veins some look even more ‘mixed’ that some Dominicans but are still considered black……so accept your blackness it’s okay. Different colors are beautiful. Stop concentrating on the outside. On judgment day God will look only on the inside.

  • Alicia

    Thank you so much Dr Gates for this informative series. I am black American with Jamaican parents and it always boggled my mind how Dominicans would claim to have no african descent when they are so obviously heavily black and/or mulatto. I mean can you imagine afro-americans, west indians and others calling themselves “English people”? lol it’s insane. Your series though on the DR and Haiti has given me and others a perspective on why there is such a self-hate issue with Dominicans and other Afro/mixed Latinos.

    Dominicans and other afro-latinos please love who you are. We all only live once. Learn your history and accept who you are. I find it insane that I’ve faced so much racism when I was in nyc from latinos who were so obviously blacks. Such confusion is a sickness and I imagine when among themselves they put each other down to. Learn to love yourself my god!

  • Jessica Perez

    As a Dominican American, I find all this to be relative. The fact of the matter is this: Yes… Many Dominicans have African ancestry but NOT all folks. Are these “whiter” or “lighter” skinned Dominicans any less Dominican than their “black” counterparts?

    Wasn’t it Duarte, Sanchez, y Mella the country’s creators/liberators….? I have seen images of them.. They look pretty light skinned to me – especially Duarte.

    Personally I feel that some darker skinned Dominicans think that they are the true Dominicans and some Dominicans on the other hand do not embrace their African heritage. What the hell are we then?

    1. What are they teaching folks over there in DR?
    2.The coverage was not fair. It seemed a bit one sided. Not once in the coverage did Gates relate the Haitian invasion of the Dominican Republic.
    3. Face it… the Dominican Republic is a melting pot.

  • Claire

    Thank you Dr. Gates for this informative and fascinating series. One thing that rings true for me via my experiences and this series is that Latin Americans sincerely believe that race is more than skin deep. They actually believe that race is in the blood.

    Many will claim Native American heritage or European ancestry as if that is indicative of race. I think many have a general confusion between the terms ethnicity, race, heritage, and nationality. Being Dominican describes a person’s nationality. Like if I said I am American. It is not indicative of a particular race.

    I think that is why so many are confused when we (white Americans) see them as simply being black. In the US, we see race… white or not white. We don’t see heritage, bloodline, ethnicity, or nationality as being one’s race. Your race is what we see. Once we get to know you we may learn of your bloodline, but as far as race in the US you are either white or not white. That’s how we see race. If you are missing and the police issue a description of you, it will be based on your visual physical characteristics, including your race. It will not describe your ethnic heritage or nationality.

  • Landis

    And the professor is not trying to impose African culture on DR, African traditions ARE part of the Dominican culture. Like in all countries of the Americas, the cultures are a mix, and African traditions are part of that mix. The DR is no different.

  • Rey

    As a proud Latino of Puertorican heritage, I am very happy that this documentary has been made. It is quite clear that this only tells part of the story of the diverse history in Latin America. But let’s not forget the documentary is called Black in Latin America, and for that I believe this is an excellent piece of work. I am sure that many of us would love to see a documentary about the first people who greeted Columbus. History tells us that the Taino all died and there is nothing left of its culture. Today we know that this is very far from the truth. The Taino influence is part of our culture in the foods we eat, Spanish we speak, and DNA that runs through our veins.
    Professor Gates, I applaud you on your successful documentary. If you find the Black experience interesting, you may want to venture into the history of the first peoples who populated Latin America. You will be surprised with what you will find.

  • Jean F. Colin

    “All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner”. President Kennedy in Berlin made history with this remarkable sentence.

    President Obama will also make history when he visit Haiti for the first time. And, as the first black president of the United States, I hope he can paraphrase President Kennedy with these important additional words as he honors the heroes of the Haitian Revolution.

    All free men and women of African descent in the Americas, wherever they may live, are citizens of Haiti,
    and, therefore, as a free black man in the Americas,
    I take pride in the words: “Moi aussi, je suis fier d’etre haitien”. ( I am also proud to be Haitian)

    In our community’s limited and selfish discussion about the role of the Diaspora and Haitian identity, we have unfortunately overlooked the Universal values of the Haitian Revolution.

    As we share Haiti, our HOMELAND, with our fellow African Americans and their fellow citizens, we will not reduce our share but increase the value of our nation as we honor its true identity and universal values.

    Haiti belongs to all of us. Our victory in 1804 has no greater meaning. Welcome HOME!

  • Miguel

    Excellent, I have never heard a Dominican person say that they are mix or that their culture has African influences. Every Dominican claimed to be Taino or Indio. Some Puerto Ricans will admit that part of their culture has African influences, for example Salsa, Santeria or mofongo a puerto rican dish. However the same dish of smash plantains in the Dominican republic is said to be of Indian descent. “Apocryphal stories and lore in the Dominican Republic tell that the name ‘mangú’ (pronounced “man-GOO”) is derived from an English language expression: during the United States invasion of Santo Domingo in 1916, it is said that this food was given to American servicepersons who, after tasting it, exclaimed “man, this is good!”. More likely than not, the word is of African (possibly Bantu) origin. A Dominican cookbook author says that mofongo in Dominican Cuisine can be traced back to Puerto Rico but scholarship indicates the dish is ultimately of African origin and is a variant of a dish called “fufu” introduced to the Caribbean by Africans to new World such as the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Puerto Rico.” This is sad Sammy Sosa bleached his skin, I think that even if we run DNA tests on all Dominicans and the results are that they all have African genes they will deny it. SAD SAD SAD SAD.

  • Martine Sixto

    Thanks for sharing our powerful history Professor Gates.

  • Peter

    “He should find out What Dessalines did to their French counterpart during his bloody and most racial revolution of the history of mankind”

    Maybe you missed that part of the documentary. He did in fact mention how he slaughtered the French. Maybe if you weren’t taking this peice so personally, you would have opened your mind to that.

    Message to Rey:

    I’m interested in knowing what you mean by, “you may want to venture into the history of the first peoples who populated Latin America. You will be surprised with what you will find.”

    Can you please point us all in the right direction so we can research for ourselves? There seems to be a subtle implication that there was a reason for why certain things happened which weren’t mentioned. I hope you enlighten us all.

    Thank you professor for this thought provoking documentary.

  • Alan

    What I don’t get is why in many Latin American countries they mostly identify with their Spanish ancestry when it was the Spanish colonists who killed the native people, in some cases enslaved the native people, raped the native women, etc. Then when they had just about decimated the native population, they brought African slaves in to replace the native people. I’m not saying they should deny or not be proud of their Spanish ancestry, but I find it puzzling that some proudly embrace the Spanish part and downplay the African part. It’s very different than what you see in other places where colonists mixed with natives. In India for example, most of them have mixed European ancestry, but you don’t see them embracing the culture and ancestry of the colonists. The same could be said of many others who are mixed with European.


    Professor Gates
    Excellent job in bringing light to the presence that African brought to the Americas. I was wondering why there wasn’t a segment on the African that are living in Central America. You have a large African descendants living throughout Central Americas. They are called Garifunas. They also have a rich history in their history and preserved African culture, through their religion, foods, language, and ancestral history.

    The Garifuna story begins in 1665 with the shipwreck of two British slave Ships near the island of San Vicente. The ships were carrying Africans to be used as slaves in the British colonies in the area of Martinica, Santa Lucia, Granada, Dominica, and Barbados. The slaves swam to freedom on the island of San Vicente.

    A subsequent shipwreck in 1675 along with slaves fleeing neighboring islands, especially from the colonial plantations in Barbados, produced a rapid influx of Africans to the island. These Africans rapidly became part of the Arawakan Indian society. Soon after the African men began to marry the Arawakan, or Caribe, women, mixing the two cultures. From this union come a new population of black Caribbean to compete for land and power with the original Arawakan Caribes. This new population of black Caribes is what today is known as the Garifuna people.

    By the year 1750, the Garifunas or Black Caribes, were both numerous and prosperous. The men dedicated themselves to hunting and fishing, and traveling to nearby island to barter tobacco and baskets for weapons, ammunition and other European products, while the women took charge of domestic labors and the greater part of the agricultural work.

    Soon, however, French colonists began to arrive on the island, eventually taking over a section of it for them. The British also continued their colonization in the area, arriving in San Vicente around 1763 with desires to obtain by trick, persuasion, cunning, or purchase, the fertile lands belonging to the Garifunas. The British wished to use the Garifunas’ land to plan sugar cane, and when the Garifunas refused to give up their lands, the British provoked them to open war.

    The British desire to obtain the Garifunas’ land by force produced a 32-year conflict, with the French siding with the black Caribes. In 1775, the British decided to take a more active approach and take over the entire island, even that part which belonged to the French. In 1796 the French finally surrendered, but the Garifunas and Arawakan Caribes continued to fight. The British proceeded to burn the Caribes houses, canoes and crops. The Garifunas, sick and almost dead from hunger, finally surrendered.

    In 1796, The Garifuna people were driven off the island of San Vicente and taken by the British to the island of Roatan, part of the Honduran Bay Islands. Soon afterwards, a large part of the Garifunas were taken to the mainland. On April 12, 1797, approximately 5,000 Garifuna men. women, and children were put ashore on the coast of Trujillo.

  • adela gonzalez

    this documentary has a few mistakes. the name of the singer is francis santana and the music presented as MERENGUE is not merengue is SON and son is cuban music genre not dominican….
    this documentary is unfair to dominicans but again they will not have an argument if they do not portrait dominicans as racists in denial on their own identity

  • jose s

    Haitians a good people, but they are VERY DIFFERENT from Dominicans. we have nothing in common.

  • Fidel Paulino

    The documentary does a decent job of finally making Dominicans face their History and ethnic origins. We were the place where the African experience in the new world began as Dr. Gates points out….. First of all Dominicans have to stop with the false premise that we were invaded by Haitians to begin with… If we did not have a Nation before February 27, 1844, then how could Haitians have occupied us WHEN WE DID NOT EXIST?!?! of have any National Identity …We were a colonized people by European Spaniards and so was the French side of the Island.. Juan Pablo Duarte enrolled in the Haitian Military and traveled to Europe with a Haitian Passport making him a Haitian at birth…. Why don’t they make mention of these simple chronological points??? I have no idea… There simply was no “occupation” … the original name of the Island given by the Tainos was Ayiti Babeke Kiskeya and as they mention the original indigenous people were wiped out by the Europeans yet we continue to embrace that culture to negate the African in us … WE EAT MORO which is an African dish named after the Moors that were in Spain for 700 years and were black… When Columbus sailed there was no unified Spain until that same time when he sailed. That place now called spain was called Al Andaluz, a black moorish state.. Yes we have Taino foods and names of places on our land but to really want to claim Native influence also negates the fact that Natives did reproduce with African slaves to keep their lineage going, outside of Europeans raping Native women. Yet where is this pointed out?…We are sooo African that our speech patterns or ” tumbao” makes it a Creolized Spanish which is very distinguishable amongst Spanish speaking peoples… I read above that the mentioned Mangu as a word used by us because of the Amricans saying man thats good but has anyone ever considered that Mangu is a Bantu expression for the food itself?….and there’s yet so much more…..

  • DeMarcus Cullors

    I understand some of the objections made by some our fellow Dominicans here. Yet, I would add though that it was only an hour long documentary so I’m sure Prof. Gates had much more to say than was able to be included. For instance, of course the Tainos are a very important part of Dominican history, culture, and identity; but the series is specifically meant to highlight and explore the black aspects of various Latin American societies. If the documentary had been about the DR only than I would agree that more could have been mentioned, but it had a specific goal and focus and had to make its points with limited time. I give him the benefit of the doubt that he and his editors did the best they could. Keep in mind also that there is a book that goes along with this series so there may be more there than is shown on the films.

    Perhaps someone will make a series called “Native Indian in Latin America”…i’d love to see that too.


  • Nicol


  • jessHaiti

    Looking at both sides of the argument, i can agree that they equally make sense. America was known as one of the most racist countries in the world. The one drop rule has really brained washed people to think that there is only white and black in the world. Despite popular AMERICAN belief, there is a such thing as a MIX race people. People need to take them for what they are. Although reality is reality. Dark skinned people are not accepted among the whites despite their white ancestry. So people can state the fact all they want, but that doesn’t protect them from reality. So the question is how do you identify yourself? Do you identify yourself genetically or how the world perceives you? And that is the main thing to consider. Gates in this documentary was probably referring to the Dominicans as black because he knows that that is how the whole world seems them as. But in actuality they are of mix race and the Dominicans who knows this doesn’t need to denounced that because of this racist world. They need to embrace it and be proud of their Mix population because that is who they are. Plus if everybody wants to be technical with it, you’ll know there isn’t a such thing as RACE biologically. Race is only used to divide people to build social hierarchies unfortunately.

  • Landis

    Jessica, about the DR liberators, yes, some may have been white. But I suggest u watch the “Cuba” episode when they talk about Maceo. I wouldn’t be surprised if the DR govt so bent on hiding their African heritage “changed” the true images of those heroes. And again, my understanding of the Haitian invasion was that it was done to free the remaining slaves in that part of the island and to prevent another foreign invasion. I mean, during that time it was Haiti that was the economic jewel of Hispaniola, so what could Haiti have possibly wanted with a poor DR other than to prevent a foreign invasion and a restoration of slavery. Btw, have u seen the “image” of Lilis Heureux? He was one of the liberators too wasn’t he? Wasn’t he black? Hell, he even had a French last name so he was possibly of Haitian descent. I agree that DR is a melting pot, but they have to accept everything that is in that pot, not pick and choose what they want in it, otherwise they’ve lost the right to call themselves a melting pot. It’s so sad that Dominicans are so much in denial of themselves. They hate their Haitian brothers so much that I think the DR is the only country in the New World that doesn’t celebrate its independence from a “European” power.

    Another thing: The Dominicans often accuse the Haitians of “blackening” their country. But I heard that something similar is happening in Puerto Rico. The Puerto Ricans are accusing the Dominicans of “blackening” their country. If this is true, I wonder how the Dominicans in PR feel when the role is reversed on them like that?

  • Jean Roberson

    Job well done Prof. Gate. This masterpiece brings some clarity in the clouded history of the island at least from an outsider’s perspective. Whether we admit or deny it, it remains a fact that in the past we have been victimized from and we (the society) will have to face and deal with the consequences for years and decades to come. We, the inhabitants of the island, can work together to make the world a better place for all of us regardless of what we’re taught in school or at home (the make believe origin). The truth cannot be capped forever, it has to come out one day or another and it is starting with this piece. Hopefully this masterpiece can be used as a tool for the beginning of a new chapter of a new relationship between the two societies, two people with one root on the same beloved island. More than ever I am Proud to be HAITIAN. Thanks a million PBS

  • Georgia Peaches

    This past saturday, I went to A dominican hair salon in a predominately african american community and was told my natural hair was too “curly” to be washed and blow dried, I would need a relaxer, “we only do straight hair”. i was shocked, and totally upset that a man of african descent would refuse me service because i do not have chemically relaxed hair. i wasn’t asking him to straighten or style my hair just wash and blow dry. i pity dominicans they have such a rich culture, but pretend to be totally ignorant of the african influence. i had a co worker tell me yucca was a dominican plant, i had to explain to her yucca was brought to the Americas from Africa and its an African plant. i find spanish speaking black people to be purposely ignorant. they are well aware their skin is dark, lips full and hair kinky/nappy/curly or anything in between because their of african descent. i mean they should be thanking the african slave for mixing with them or they wouldn’t have those nice round behinds, just look at the non black latinas and see how flat their butts are.

    im still contemplating if i should sue the salon for discrimination, not for the money, more to teach them a lesson.

    the truth is i am not begging anyone to be part of the black “race”, its not like latinos would really benefit our struggle, i find most of them to be complacent and non-political.

  • Dania

    First, thank you, Mr. Gates, for giving a great survey on Haiti and DR relationship on identity and race history.

    To all the commnetators: Thanks for an in depth reaction of how race and national identity is still a BIG issue in the Hispaniola and its diaspora.

  • Chris333

    I think many of you are missing the point of this documentary. The overall title is Black in Latin America, o sea Negros en América Latina. The focus isn’t on Tainos en the Caribbean or any other racial group that makes up your society. The focus once again is on the African component that makes up your society. In my opinion, those who insist he talks about Tainos are the very ones that deny your African heritage because of one form of another it kills you to be considered black, although Taino blood probably makes up such a small percentage of your DNA that it probably wouldn’t be detected. I think this just shows how much all African communities have been affected by the European’s lies during the time of slavery. That lie has continued to rear its ugly head because as black people around world, we aren’t able to connect and always find a way to justify why we are better than each other based on a different lighter race that we may have in our DNA. I am African American and I’m very close to the Hispanic community. I have many Dominican friends that are actually quite darker than I am and they don’t consider themselves Black either. I feel that we should all learn our history and embrace every aspect of it, but once again this documentary focuses on BLACKS in Latin America and not TAINOS.

  • Jessy Andres Torbicio

    am a Historian/student for my Masters in Caribbean Studies,the documentary was VERY Biased, Gates has a history of doing this as he also did this to England and Africa, is anti-reparations, blames Africans mostly for slave trade, and boasts being over 50% Irish.

    1. Dr Gates claims that there are no statues of black heroes in the DR? That is false. Gregorio Luperón is considered one of the greatest heroes of the country, having fought in the War of Restoration. There are hundreds of statues in his honor. Every city and town has a street, avenue, park, public building named after him, school textbook all mention him, his birthday is a national holiday. There are other black/mulato national heroes that are honored with statues, their rightful place in the history books, etc such as Francisco del Rosario Sánchez (one of the three founding fathers of the country). In Santo Domingo there is a museum called Museo del Hombre Dominicano with an entire floor is dedicated to slavery and the African heritage, and in front of the museum there are three statues, one of which is in honor of Lemba, an African slave that revolted and fought for his liberty in slavery times.

    2. In the video the guy that was answering Dr Gates question claimed that no one in the Dominican Republic considers themselves black, yet that’s not true. While there are many blacks that are in denial, many others are not and they do identify as black as can be seen in the census data where 11% of the population identifies as black and nothing else. You need to understand that Dominicans refer to actual skin color not race when they are asked to describe their skin color. As a result, only those people who are charcoal-black are considered to be of the black color, those that are as light as wheat or lighter are considered of the white color, and those of shades of brown would be referred to as mulatto or indio. Now, the use indio to describe the mulatto color in the past was used as an attempt to deny the African heritage, but this is no longer the case. It has taken a new meaning (as happens with many words around the world) and it simply means a person of brown color. It doesn’t mean that Dominicans actually think of themselves as indians, since their African heritage is taught in the public schools.

    3. While it’s true that the indigenismo movement in the late 19th century and early 20th century started as an attempt to exalt the Taino heritage over the African heritage, and that lead to the popularization of the Indio word as a skin color description; this doesn’t mean that there is no Taino heritage in Dominican culture. There are many cultural practices within the Dominican population that comes directly from the Taino indians such as eating Casabe (a special flat bread originally invented by the Tainos) or the use of the Güira musical instrument (an original Taino invention) among many other things. There is no question that the bulk of Dominican culture is a mixture of African and Spanish, but there is also a Taino influence as well. A DNA study was done by the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez campus both in Puerto Rico and in the Dominican Republic, and the Dominican results were that while there are no full blooded Taino descendants in the Dominican Republic, a full 15% of the population DOES HAVE some Taino ancestry. Again, this is not to say that Dominican culture is Taino 100%, but there is something still left in the blood, in the lifestyle, in the music, in the language and in every facet of contemporary Dominican life; along with the African and the Spanish, and to a lesser degree Arab too.

    (Here’s a link refering to the DNA test I mentioned earlier: caribbeanbusiness.Page Ranking – UPR professor: Taíno genes in D.R. )
    Also Gates said he did not find statues or streets or anything else named after blacks, well he missed the statue of Gregorio Luperon as mentioned,also the SDQ international airport named after Francisco Gomez Pena (Named after a former Mayor and intellectual who was black ) who came to the DR due to a Dominican family who saved him from the Parsley Massacre and adopted him as their own son who almost became president, and was caught in a “birther” scandal similar to the one Obama is in now! Seems Dr isn’t the only one with race problems. Also if Gates were looking at mulatto-black leader as he did “find” in Cuba ,Gates failed to mention our other black presidents like Ulysses Herieax or Gregorio Luperon who controlled the North Coast (and has a bronze statue on a horse in front of the capital in Santiago and Puerta Plata) and fought Spain from trying to reintroduce slavery (& the Haitians backed him a Dominican leader, but that would have been to complicated)? Also it would have been to complicated to acknowledge that Cuba, DR and Venezuela didnt just “pledge” money to Haiti after the earthquake they “gave” money to Haiti unlike the “superpowers” pledging billions.

    What does Gates want? the self proclaimed 58% Irishman who like many Americans with their own definitions of race, doe NOT like others identifying themselves as mulatto as Gates does (& Proved it in African American Lives with Oprah being declared 1/2 Native American and Gates 1/2 Irish)? Carnival wasnt African enough for him or our food such as Sancocho which defines our tri-racial identity Africano-Taino-Espanoles (why not he found it in Cuba with Ajiaco and looked “proud” eating it! )? or our language and slang? or our younger musical groups??? or Bachata which he failed to mention? or merengue?

    Gates also only spent 23 minutes in DR and 40 in Haiti maybe thats why he also walked down the Zona Colonial and seemed to get all the information he wanted to before going to Haiti where he wanted to be. Dr. Gates didnt mention some Haitians are mixed and proud of speaking only French and not creole nor mix with the lower caste Haitians, leaders in the 60′s and 70′s had to tell the dip your buckets down below and dip into the African Haitian culture below, a homogeneous identity didnt occur overnight and according to many middle class Haitians kicked out during Papa doc, Baby Doc and Aristide never will because the middle class was destroyed, but we cant mention that too. Many of thier leaders were actually mulatos they put in Bronze instead of our heroes in Marble, it was so biased, and the part that irks me is comparing us to Haiti would make us look like we are not as African but the irony is so would comparing Haitians compared to the “anglo” African Americans who Haitians call “blanc” (yes that means “white”), or Jamaicans, or Brazillains, Its dangerous for Americans to now put thier racial standards on others who have developed different histories of race, form virtually no segregation, no laws against intermarriage and no need for a civil rights movement, and the dreaded one drop rule clouds the minds of Americans to the point Jesse Jackson says Soledad O Brien isn’t black enough and neither is Tiger Woods or Mariah Carey but “they should dare deny their “blackness” or they become enraged. People in America have all the same hang ups as the rest of the diaspora if you dont beleive it listen to Malcolm X ,read the Souls of Black Folk by WEB Duboius, or watch Good Hair by Chris Rock., but you condemn others for their mishaps frequently wasn’t it the Afro-American fraternities who administered their own paper bag tests as Trujillo murdered thousands of Dominicans (not just ones of Haitian descent) and Haitians?

    Do you recall if he mentioned any of the following?…ingo-1801-1844

    Haitian Invasions and Occupation of Santo Domingo (1801-1844)

    I’ll keep it brief and factual:

    1) 1801: Toussaint L’Ouveture invades Santo Domingo.

    2) 1805: Dessalines (the butcher) invades Santo Domingo.

    3) 1822: Boyer invades and then occupies DR.

    4) 1822-1844: During the Haitian occupation:
    a) Repression of Dominican Catholicism (severed ties to Rome, deported foreign clergy, confiscated Church property, etc. )
    b) Repression of Spanish language and culture
    c) Forced Dominicans to also pay the fine imposed by France upon Haiti in order to recognize Haiti’s independence which bankrupted both sides.

    5) 1844: Riviere-Herard invades DR.

    6) 1849: Soulouqe invades DR.

    7) 1855: Souloque invades DR (again).
    1963: Duvaliers police occupy Dominican embassy in Haiti

    I hate people who try to simplify history to meet thier bias,agenda or prerogative to sell videos, books, or sensationalize it, Do the deaths of Dominicans by Desalines mean all Haitians are bad? No, and black people can oppress other black people, look at Duvalier or more proof or Liberian History of African American slave descendants mistreating native Africans for having more European blood.

    Also Gates did DNA studies on his Brazillian episode but if he did one in DR he would have found Dominicans have 85 percent have African ancestors, 9.4 Indian, and less than .08 European. DNA from paternal lines found 58 percent from European ancestors, 36 from African, and 1 percent Indian. Pretty mixed up, we just go by mixed rather than the term black which one would naturally do in a predominantly American/European society defined by the one drop rule and had rules against “miscegenation”.

    For more on Dominican Independence and understanding it was about freedom ,anti-taxation, and freedom of religion and language than racism, one needs to watch this lecture by Dr Torres Salliant who also appeared in the Documentary at the Plaza de Los Heroes in gates Documentary. YouTube – Dominican Independence – Silvio Torress-Saillant
    By the way the music in the begining is Cubano son NOT Merengue, and it wasnt Frank Cruz but Santana!!! el machando la historia ,musica y la cultura. Cono.

  • Webster Jaboin

    Thank you Professor Gates for highlighting the issues that help put Haiti in its proper historical context. While we did learnt about such issues in school and from our parents, the complexities that shape this nation are not well known to outsiders. Your academic stature behind this documentary will certainly bring a better understanding to the public in general about the poorest nation in the western hemisphere.

  • Criollo25

    Very unfair documentary full of bias, He expends more time in Haiti. There are similarities in both countries however, the differences are way more than the similarities. Unfortunately, you would need to go to both countries and see it with your own eyes to be able to understand the why of the differences. Dominican Republic has the most racial mixed population in the Caribbean, thus, we can’t just say we’re African Caribbean, and exclude our other races as well because we are very proud of what we are and we embrace them all. It’s complex but It is the reality and it is what it is.

  • Moochito

    Dominican’s need to open their eyes and not be fooled by the “brown” color of their skin and accept that their hertaige is from Africa mixed with the Native Taino indians. Spain the so called mother land is only resonsible for raping the country of its richness and poising the people with self hate. Almost 90% of Domincans are black mixed ppl. I enjoyed this documentary about an Island divided. There is nothing wrong with being proud of being descendants of the African race, what is wrong is to deny it. All people from Latin America and the Caribbean are mixed with a rich heritage and we must celebrate are richness! As a Dominican-American I am proud to be a Black Taino Indio!

  • Alicia

    Georgia Peaches, I understand fully what you went through and how you feel. I love Dominicans as hairdressers because they are amongst the best when it comes to black women’s hair. What baffles me though is the amount of self-hate they have. It’s ridiculous! I am black american with parents from Jamaica and could never imagine they would pretend not to be black, deny being of african descent. There is alot of mixture all over whereever there are blacks outside of Africa. why do Dominicans think they are somehow uniquely not black just because they have a mixture. I mean many still look black, have nappy hair, dark skin. Maybe it’s the spanish culture!

  • Zilla

    I’ve been to the Dominican a double digit number of times. I have been all over the south, and the north. I would agree with the documentary about the racial bias towards the DR. Many times I have bee accosted by police who mistook me for a Haitian drug dealer, or other type of ‘Haitian’. In addition, because of my darker skin I have witnessed much racism before it was determined that I had ‘dollars’ so green became my color.

    I have seen very dark skinned Dominicans mark themselves down as white, or mixed. I understand being true to your roots, and I understand the ‘pain’ of having to come to terms with being African, but having experienced DR as a dark skinned person with means, I feel the documentary was fairly accurate. I agree spending more time in Haiti because 1. It needs as much press as possible 2. What it represents to Black peoples around the world

  • Jae

    The title of the series is BLACK IN LATIN AMERICA…The whole point is to raise awareness that there are Black people in Latin countries. I don’t feel that the lack of mention about the Taino people was meant to be discriminatory. We know that all of the Americas has inhabtiants before the Spanish, the Dutch, and African slaves arrived!!!! Again the series is to point out to those of us who did not know, that there are Black people who more than likely are ancestors of African slaves living in Latin America, just as us Blacks in America…

    Also, to those pointing out how Blacks in America discriminate against each other, yes it’s true, just as some Latin Americans deny they are Black all together…anytime and anywhere in this world where the way you are treated and the quality of your life is determined by your skin color and how you identify yourself, you will have these issues!!!

  • Sensitive Asian Man or SAM

    A very informative, if not thorough, introduction to the many issues regarding racial identity in Haiti and DR. Growing up in New York City, there was a that sense of denial from many of the Dominicans I’ve met through the years, that their roots (at least some of them) lay in Africa. I always thought this to be an individual-based bias and not a nation wide phenomenon. I was surprised too see that it is part of the culture in DR.

    I understand the difficulty of being black in America, but I never could understand the denial of your African roots. Africa has a long and rich cultural history, something that a person can have pride in. Denying that part of oneself is almost as if cutting off an arm.

    I am an outsider looking in, and I can never fully understand what a person from DR thinks when he or she considers their racial identity. But as much as the world tells you, its bad to be black, we all know, deep inside that its the biggest load of bs.

  • JC Cardino

    Spent 2 years living in Haiti learning the Language and culture. Though I am a very white skinned person from Venezuela, Haitians treated me as an equal when I was their. I did not experience any racism. I also lived in a building where a coupleof Dominicans also lived. I never saw Haitians treating them as anything else than brothers and sisters and friends. I just love Haitian.. they are not racists but they love being of African decent. Others brag about being Taino, Spaniard, French, and whatever else they want to be, but Haitians keep it real. While they acknowledge some cutural diversity within the Haitian race, they prioritize Africans because Africans helped but Haiti, and Dominican Republic on the map… One could try to deny it all they want but the truth is the truth. Keep it real.

  • CJ Aden

    I’ve found reading the comments here almost as fascinating as the episode itself!

    History – beyond the facts of dates and times – is highly interpretive, as is shown not only by Dr. Gates but also by many of these commentators. As a Black American woman raised in the Dominican Republic, I personally agree with many of Dr. Gates’ assertions, but that is my perspective and opinion…nothing more.

    All in all, I found the episode eye-opening and educational. I particularly enjoyed the Haiti segment, as that nation is often demonized and/or infantilized in mainstream American media. Learning of its history and culture made me truly proud!

  • tucaronick

    very well done considering you weren’t shown other things of super importance……such us the american drainage of the regions treasures…………. , check out this site, and if ur ever wanting to do it over again, i would b very happy to show you the truth of the island…………….

  • D.Alvarado

    Dr. Gates,

    I have watched your documentaries and I have truly enjoyed them and respect your work beyond words. I am Dominican-American, of lighter complexion but I have always identified myself as an Afro-Caribbean Latina, because it signifies a strong diaspora, of a grandmother who was a daughter of Spanish Ranchers and a grandfather who was a descendant of African slaves. I too believe that the black richness of the Dominican Republic was not explored or researched or shown.

    The researchers missed the Afro-Dominican cultures in La Romana and Semana, that have current ancestry connections to the US Sea Islands: Gullah/Geechee cultures, with last names of Jones and Smiths; they missed the San Cristobal, Dajabon, San Juan de La Majuana known for many Afro-Caribbean dances such as Palo. While I agree with the sad mental wash of not wanting to accept our beautiful parts Taino and African heritage there are many Dominicans that do embrace our true gift of blackness. In the entire great serious I feel the Dominican Republic’s full history was the only one not explored, fully researched and a balanced history was not given. I truly hope that your team will truly research and revisit the many positive black origins not highlighted that exist within our black Dominican culture and country

    Namaste and Blessings

  • D.Alvarado

    As I have read through many of the post, I truly agree that this is a discussion that should be highlighted in another documentary; this is only opening part of Pandora ’s Box. A documentary needs to be created where the real issues of both our countries are addressed, as it relates to race and the true richness of the African culture of the entire island of HISPANOLA. The Dominican Republic and Haiti may be separate countries but in true light we are related; are histories are very much intertwined and we can never deny such as fact. It is my opinion, Dominican and Haitians must see the subjugation of the slave mentally has permeated within our countries. The plantation mentally of lighter being better, house and field slave and the Willie Lynch approach of divide and conquer sad to say is still relevant in both countries as it is in the US. It is a reality at times in both our Haitian and Dominican communities that many rather identify with our white enslavers first, than with our enslaved black ancestors. The issue is of acculturation and assimilation in both countries, we may want a racially united world, but that is not the reality still in 2011. To note that many African Americans refuse to acknowledge me as being a woman of color, because I am from another country, but I consider myself to be a person of color. In fairness, however, the Dominican African and Taino diaspora was not shown in a balanced approach as the others have been in the series.

  • Luis Garrido

    I should have stopped watching this documental, when I saw and listened to guaguanco being played as merengue. This documentary is clearly another Dominican bashing, which is common these days, so it seems. Why glorify Haiti and Haitians at the expense of the Dominicans?

    The title of the piece is misguided, as there was clearly more time and effort spent on Haiti and how ungrateful the Dominicans have been to “Mother Africa.” Does the color of the skin define a culture? We Dominicans are a sancocho of cultures and races. Why should we have the African culture be pushed down our throat? I enjoy flamenco music as much as Palos and Salve. Who is to tell me not to do so?

    Clearly professor Gates did not bother to look into his own bias before he produced this documentary. Maybe he should ask himself, “Why did I concentrate most of my effort on presenting the Dominican Republic viewed from the Haitian perspective?” He obviously did not present Haiti as viewed from the Dominican eye. Did he once talk about the whites in Haiti? Are there no whites in Haiti?

  • penny

    they do not mention tainos because this series is called BLACK in latin america. besides most of the indigenous/natives in the carribean countries were killed off by the europeans, their population is less than 1% in comparison to central or south america.

  • marci

    Its strange that the dominicans are so adamant about their taino admixture, when Taino’s were wiped out centuries ago. The black slaves on the island were most recent, and have occupied the island of hipanola longer and in greater numbers than the taino’s ever did, but yet they reject the black bloodline and cling to the tainos. The funny thing is that virtually all islands of the caribbean were occupied by indigineous indians be it carib, arawaks, tainos but you don’t see the other people from the other caribbean islands keep bringing up their indigenous or taino blood. Its there, but so is the african blood, so why be so proud of one and ashamed of the other?

  • Gigi

    please.. if we are going to talk about the haitian prostitutes in the d.r. please let us go back to a time when Haiti was so prosperous that there were d.r. prostitutes, as someone stated in a previous comment. Being of Cuban,French,Dominican, and Haitian ancestry, I would rather boast about my Haitian ancestry than talk about my Dominican ancestry. My grandmother was a BLACK dominican, my maternal grandfather was a Haitian marabou (of Taino blood, European, and Black ancestry), and despite him looking exactly like an Indian, he said he was BLACK. I’ve met too many dominicans that will perm their hair to make it straight than claim Taino blood, but let you throw any kind of water at them and they will run away simply because they dont want their hair to curl and show any bit of African in them. I am tired of them also showing just the bad parts of Haiti, why not show the Labadi beach or Petionville.. sheesh, I love my Dominican roots but until some dominicans acknowledge their African roots and even some of their Haitian roots, I’ll pass on being called a “dominican”. Haiti isnt even “considered” by many as being part of Latin America, when if anything they should be considered afro-latin country. Learn your history people, and not the biased version of it.

  • Joelito De Quisqueya

    As one who was born in one island and spend most of my teenage year in the other, i get two speak both languages and experience both culture. No matter where you go in Hispaniola or Quesqueya, the blacks always have it worst and if you read “the making of haiti, the black napoleon and the avengers of the new world” you might have some ideas why but if you come up here and start quoting Dominican History like Torbicio did, you miss the point of this program. The island was divided for a reason and it was divided before France took the Haitian part.
    If you’re black from anywhere you should and MUST watch this program, I thank PBS and Prof Gates for this blessing. I know it pissed of a few Mexicans and the Dominicans are enranged but it the truth and it shall set them free.

  • Abigail acevedo

    Hi I think this documentary as a whole is essential for Black awareness in Latin America so I really enjoyed the episodes, especially on Cuba and Mexico for example, Telemundo and Univision loves to hide The Black Abuela in the closet you will never see black people as the main characters in telenovelas, however the piece on the Dominican Republic was not fair, it was one-dimensional and it gave a very distorted image of Dominicans as racist and in denial of who they are, since Dr. Gates only dedicated 23 minutes on DR history, of the three Latin Caribbean Islands, the Dominican cooking/Cuisine has the most pronounced African elements, case in point “Sancocho” which is a combination of beef,chicken, and pork and chunks of west African Yam, “Yautia” and “Yuca”. Also please remember Dr. Gates that Trujillo was the Hitler of the Dominican republic and your glib discussion or research on this Caudillo was obviously superficial.

  • Nadime Nader

    Dear proffesor Gates ,it was nice your program about the dominican republic and haiti.BLACK IN LATIN AMERICAN “..On reference to the dominican republic I felt it was very weak,you only remarked the negativity of many dominicans toward our African heritage.. that racism exist even today in our country and many dominicans dont want to accept it, but all of us have “el negro ahi ,ahi ahi ahi e que me guta a mi “.In my opinion domincans have thre cultures or currents :taino indian,spanish, and african.I was waiting to see the representacion of a gaga ritual,(afro/dominican dance ), music from los palos de peravia,and dominican voudou ceremonies from Samana ,san juan de la maguana,miches,and other cultural expressions with african flavor such as el carnaval dominicano where we can apreciate colorful african influences IN THE MUSIC /DANCE/COSTUMES …. .We,dominicans are a rainbow of races: Taino,Spanish and African, as these cultures mixes with blood ,pain ,and sugarcane, these create the dominican diaspora, this diaspora is full of religious cincretism with a very rich cultural heritage and the african culture is the most pOwerful in that ….i wanted to see more popular culture ?….. some dominicans are cafe con leche ,others dulce de leche ,others plain black sweet coffe ..its in our blood ,in our music ,in our costumes and in our culture . I was sad to see that if the tittle of the piece was black in latin america you forgot to search for the real folklore in the dominican republic spiced by our african influences ,you forgot to look for Fredique Lizardo a dominican proffesor that knows dominican culture , you forgot to go to the museum of el hombre dominicano ,you forgot to search for african influence in our” palos”,” bachata”,perico ripiao” and “el merengue tipico…… ” waw a guaguanco as dominican merengue ? you shall check first before the editing of the program ?…I felt sad of how the cultural material was handled… yes some dominican are racist , they dont want to admit that we dominicans have 77 % of african blood ?,,,but this documentaruy was not about” DOMINICAN RACISM “it was about the richness of the african heritage in the culture of the dominican republic ,,I wish to see a new dominican/haiti program on black in latin america with a more serious look on the power of the african heritage in both countries …..Since 1972 I do cultural programs in new york city based on the african influence in the music , dance costumes customs of the dominican republic ,haiti, puerto rico and cuba,,, we also cover the garifunas of central america.. you forgot to cover then too they have a very complex rituals with strong african heritage …… please do another program on the dominican republic and haiti ….”.this was just a soft brush over the painful cut” … thank you very much , nadima.

    i had been doing cultural performances in new york city based of the african influence in the cultures of the dominican republic . puerto rico ,haiti and cuba ….

  • don martin

    professor ,
    i enjoyed your epsiodes of black in latin america
    i myself am a african america from chicago
    my wife is from guatemala
    my wife family is garifuna
    garifuna a people of african decesnt who settled in belize, guatemal, hondoras
    i discuss with my wife the african experience in united states.
    i ask my wife for her experince in central america
    to my suprises , my did not know much about slavery in the americas
    in guatemala , slavery is not a subject discuss in school
    in guatemala, the african history is not discussed much in school
    my wife family garifuna language and tradition sounds african
    you should explore the black history in centro american

  • DT Torres

    No series concerning African roots in Latin America can ever be complete without uing Puerto Rico as an example. This series, although told via Gates’ liberal prism, is important as a launching point for further discussion on the topic of race and racial indentity in Latin American. Too racial and ethnic melting pot of our southern neighbors has been misunderstood by the mainstream for far too long. Thank you for the series, but please enlist a future Puerto Rico segment.

  • Victor

    i would like to say that Mr. Jessy Andres Torbicio has put the TRUTH on each of his words…the Domican Republic is NOT the USA, we do not use and have NEVER used the one drop Rule…

    For those who Ignore the domincan culture, and have never been on DR and then want to cruficy us for not doing what they think we should do i would suggest to Google:

    - Gregorio Luperon
    - Lemba
    -Ulises “lilis” Heraux
    - Jose Francisco Pena gomez

    After you do, as yourself a question, specially for the last name, HOW can a “racist black denial” nation could have made him the greatest Mass leader on the DR history

  • Pedro Cespedes Rodriguez

    This documentary was made to make Dominicans look racist animals and making Haiti look good

    Well I’m sorry to tell you Dominican republic is not just African ancestry

    It has a lot of Taino ancestry his whole documentary made me sick to my stomach

    I can’t believe Pbs would do somthing like this

    Why didn’t they point out all the robbing and raping that haitians are doing in the Dominican Republic

    And these so called experts have no idea what they are talking about

    Horrible documentary needs to be taken off from the website and the dvd should not be sold

  • Joel Ramirez

    I think, the documentary was interesting but too one sided and also viewed from the point of view of the USA where you are either Black or white, Racism was used and is still use to divide the nation, in the USA people still talk of ” black or white music, black or white food and so on” . which is different from the point of view of Latin Americans, when it come to races, In Latin America you will never hear , ” this is black music or white music”. In the US, if you ask a Black person .What are you? the first thing that come to their mind is..”I,m black” . In DR, if you ask the same question to a black Dominican, we will say..” I am Dominican and Latin American”. Which is NOT DENYING our African heritage like this Episode want to tell the world, and at the same time showing the Haitian so proud of their African heritage, and showing us Dominicans as Ignorants . The process in which Black Dominican and Mulatos started to see themselves as LATINOS instead of a Color, is the same process that changed the White minority in DR, White Dominicans do not see themselves as Spanish, If you ask them ,they will say..” I am Dominican and a Latin American” Just like Black and Mulatos in the DR don’t have a map of Africa in their bedroom like many Black Americans and blacks from other Islands , the same thing for whites in the DR ,they don’t have a map of Spain. Becoming LATINOS AND DOMINICANS OF MIXED RACES is what make DR what we are . I think you are way off, our African heritage is alive in our music, culture, faces, food, color,music, But we have become LATIN AMERICANS our language is Spanish . In the Dr we don’t have an African language mixed with Spanish, like Haiti does with the French, Haiti and DR are two different nations with different points of views and history and somehow your documentary want to imply that we are not proud of who we are , and Sir ,you are so wrong about that!!!!. We love being who we are , its what make us who we are, its what saved our nation from many invasions and war, our Latin American identity regardless of the colors. And the same process took place in Cuba, Colombia , Venezuela and other place where there are blacks in Latin America, we are Latinos first and colors come second,

  • Jose

    This documentary was the point of view of an American man , which is totally different from Latin Americans, Dr Gate point of view is that if a Black Latino or Dominican in this case doesn’t see himself as black first like the Haitians do, them they are denying their African heritage, Which wrong, the people in Latin America have created a sense of unity and nationality by becoming Latin first and color second, Unlike the US where the whole country was design with separation in mind, to keep the black citizens ” African Americans” forever even after 200 years, NOT AMERICANS LIKE THE WHITES , just Africans , different and second, which also created equal racism, and division, like Black and white foods , styles and even way of talking, such as Ebonics . The opposite happended in the Dominican republic, mixing and creating a sense of ” we are Dominican and Latino first”.. kept us together as a nation. We are proud , we know our heritage and we are proud of it, its just too bad that Dr Gates does not want to understand it and in a way try to make us look bad because our ways are different.

  • Victoria

    Incredible the number of anti-Dominican comments in this website, simply because Dominicans see themselves first as Latino ,instead of a color like they do in the US.and haiti. Most of them have no idea of the history of DR, how it was during the spanish colonial times and the horrors of the haitian invasion, Some even say the haitian came over to ” liberate” the slave, and leave out by “accident” the details of the crimes, rapes, murders, exile of thousands, and even the prohibition of our language ” spanish”. The same Haitian army that murder thousands of white and mulatto haitians was the army that invaded us, and these people are saying that those haitians came to help us, are they dreaming???. Dominicans are very proud of our heritage, our color, our african influence in music ,culture and everything, but we mixed and accepted being latin Americans, Something that haitians are not because they were not a spanish colony.This documentary is biased, talk about the government trying to cover our African heritage,which is bull, DR is a country where regarless of color or even haitian nationality ,people can move forward in life, and if you do no believe me , just ask the more than 2,000,000 ilegal haitians living , working , studying, and giving birth in the DR, ask them where would they rather be , Haiti or DR. Our country is not the racist country and in denial. We are latino first and color come second, just accept that, instead of trying to get everybody to see being black the same way they do in the US.

  • Johnny Rivera

    Wow!!! I guess now is bad to be a proud Dominican and feel very Latino, I guess from now on to make the haitians and the black american community happy ,us Dominicans will have to get our very own map of Africa in each Dominican home, a Picture of Bob Marley or Malcom X. Why can’t people undestand that Dominicans are happy feeling Latin American, 70% mulato, the rest blacks and a minority of whites and other races and nationalities, We are mixed, Just because Prof.gate interviewed some people that agreed with his point of view , that is not a complete picture of Dominicans, I am the regular mulato ,I love my culture, my color, my afro-music merengue and bachata, everything, But beside our color, we don’t have some ” creol” mixed between African languages and Spanish, We speak spanish , we became Latinos and thats how we see ourselves, its not racism or denial. It was sad, and even funny how this documentary present Dominicans as ignorants and the haitians as so proud of being black. Prof. Gate you have your own agenda and point of view, remember that the world does not alway have to turn the way you Americans want it to turn, The American point of view of races is not the point of view of us Dominican, In the USA if a person is born of a white father and black mother that child is BLACK, if the father is white and marry a mulato woman that child is still BLACK. Not in my country , we believe in MIXED PEOPLE OR MULATOS, cause thats what we are.

  • Joel Ramirez

    Prof. Gates, I believe that your portrait of Dominican culture in this Documentary is totally wrong, We are a mixed nation, to be Mulatto you need to have a BLACK and a WHITE parent, and that’s what we are, Spain and Africa, In my 40 years I have never seen a Mixed Dominican or White minority, Celebrating Running of the bulls or celebration Spain day, So why do we also have to be running around trying to celebrate Africa, We know who we are. We are proud of our African heritage, we are proud to have been a Spanish colony and have their language, Africa is in our culture, celebrations, food, music, our color, But we have become LATIN AMERICANS, We do not see ourselves as a COLOR but as one united nation, regardless of the color , Every group of Immigrant, that have settle in DR have gone through the process of DOMINICANIZATION, or in other words ,became Latins from the DR, Arabs, whites, blacks from other Islands, Asians and other Latinos, The only people that refuse to become part of the Dominican nation are the Millions of Haitians living in the DR, that still believe that the whole island belong to them and they have all God’s given rights to be there, That attitude and our violent history of Haitian invasions, murder, rape, exile of thousands of Dominicans, the destruction of our resources to pay off the debt to France and the PROHIBITION of our language Spanish in an attempt to erase us from the Map have made the relations between Dominicans and Haitians what it is today. We are not the same, Both are proud people, with our own history, our own views and culture, This attempt to make us look the same, only work on people that have to knowledge of either countries.
    Mr Gate, you show a picture of Dominicans in denial , ignorant and racists , which is not true, we are proud of who we are , Our color and culture, We accept and welcome people from all over the world, Unlike Haiti ,that for years had laws that prohibited anyone that was not BLACK from owning land in that country, only after the U.S. invaded Haiti in the early 1900’s those laws were abolished. Just because the point of view of the DR on races is not the same as the US, a country famous for their segregation laws , Our rules and views are different, it does not matter in the DR, if your grandparents came from Spain, China, Siria, Cuba ,or from St Martin, Guadalupe or any other black island, In the DR you are Dominican and that is it, we are mixed and proud of that, and the American and Haitian point of view does not make us ignorant, it just make us different. I am glad that you are so proud of being BLACK, which is good, but please do not use your influence to paint us and other mixed people in Latin America as people in Denial because of our brown skin, If you ask a white and a Indian person in Mexico what they are, they will say proudly..I AM MEXICAN. Same thing here, we are proud to be Latino, to be Dominicans.

  • Thomas

    Many here seem bitter about what this documentary did not say in support of many things Dominican. This is just a beginning. It shows many people from the US and other countries some insights to the history in Hispaniola. No one denies that wrong was done by both sides. I don’t think Dr. Gates was trying to biased, but if you look at all of the “Black In Latin America” episodes, the one dealing with Haiti and the DR seem to elicit the most fervent responses. He only had 1 hour of TV time at most. This was a good introduction. This was a good starting point for dialogue. Many people learn more from this piece about the DR and Haiti than they ever knew. That is a good thing.
    Personally of all the countries, because of the difficulties surrounding the blacks in Haiti and the mixed people in the DR, it seems that the DR tries the hardest to deny their African roots. Because of what they perceive as inferior. I have seen this from Dominicans in the US also. Yes you are Taino and European. But why deny the other part. You can lie to yourself but it changes nothing. I too am African/Euro/Native. I could never be a white man. My native roots are almost gone in the US. The various shades of black have always been home. If I had a statue of my important heritage I would leave out nothing. You cannot hide from yourself.

  • Marquis Mwatuangi

    I appreciate the work that Gates has done, however, I’m definitely interested in why Puerto Rico was not included. We boricuas have a strong heritage rooted in Afrikan traditions that defines us as deeply as does our taino heritage. Too many are asleep in the US.

  • Olga Frias

    I wish I had the means to film a documentary to denounce all the misinformation in this PBS special; this were not mistakes or misinformation, this are slanderous statement that are hurtful and serve only those who receive money to produce it and others political ambitions. How sad, I lost all respect for PBS.

  • Leo

    I think this Documentary is somewhat bias and lacking much more info.
    The whole Moors or “Moros” subject wasn’t even mentioned. The moors where a mix of Arabs and Berbers from Northern Africa what is today Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, that invaded and ruled most of the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal) around the 12th century for many years. Then later as Spain fought against the moors & slowly regained territory and later followed with the inquisitions ( Become Roman-Catholic by force or else…..) Many of the “Moriscos” (now Christianize- Muslims/moors) came on the ships with Christopher Columbus to the new world. Its safe to say that we have way more Arab/Berber in our background ( because of the Moors) in the Dominican Republic.( but also Cuba & Puerto Rico) then Spaniard, I would also say we have practically 0% Taino,

  • Amber

    He never said there were no Tainos, he said most of them had died off, thats why they imported African slaves, they had Tainos in Haiti too!!! What did you think Haiti was just blank with no people before the French came??? Great job, hopefully Dominicans can start realizing there not just Spanairds they are African too!!

  • luchadora

    I believe Dr. gates did not mention tainos, arawaks, or any other indigenous groups from the caribbean because he was trying to make a point that there is more emphasis on indigenous influence rather than black influence which is actually more prevelant than taino. #2 skin color does not dictact race. So if you are light skinned or dark skinned you can be both be black and if you are of “indio” complextion, that does not mean you have indigenous blood. Anyone mixed with any kind of anglo and black can have bronze skin.

  • Leo

    Another bad job by the Dr. Gates, while in Santo Domingo (the capital) he sees alot of black people and he admits that the counrty is just like Haiti, but you have to take into consideration that the most Haitians migrate and go to the capital. It would be like saying I’m going to Los Angeles to take a survey of the USA’s ethnicity population, one can only come away from Los Angeles and say that the U.S as a country is identical to Mexico. It’s just plain lazy reporting and journalism by Gates……………..We do have a population in the Dominican Republic that came from North Africa, but not West African they were called “Moors” or “Moriscos” by the Spanish and they look like Arabs middle eastern features, which are very prevalent in DR, Cuba, Puerto-Rico, and other parts of latin America. People forget that African is diverse too, not everyone from Africa is black, is like saying the Asian continent is all Chinese.

  • Leo

    Another bad job by the Dr. Gates, while in Santo Domingo (the capital) he sees alot of black people and he admits that the counrty is just like Haiti, but you have to take into consideration that the most Haitians migrate and go to the capital. It would be like saying I’m going to Los Angeles to take a survey of the USA’s ethnicity population, one can only come away from Los Angeles and say that the U.S as a country is identical to Mexico. It’s just plain lazy reporting and journalism by Gates……………..We do have a population in the Dominican Republic that came from North Africa, but not West African they were called “Moors” or “Moriscos” by the Spanish and they look like Arabs middle eastern features, which are very prevalent in DR, Cuba, Puerto-Rico, and other parts of Latin America. People forget that Africa is diverse too, not everyone from Africa is black, is like saying the Asian continent is all Chinese.

  • Leo

    Another poor job by the Dr. Gates in the documentary is while in Santo Domingo (the capital) he observes a lot of black people and then admits that the counrty is just like Haiti, without taking into account that most Haitians migrate to the capital. It would be like saying I’m going to Los Angeles to take a survey of the USA’s ethnicity population, one can only come away from Los Angeles and say that the U.S as a country is pretty much identical to Mexico. That’s just plain lazy reporting and journalism by Gates……………..We do have a population in the Dominican Republic that came from North Africa but not West Africa( Most if not all of Haiti ) African’s from the North (Libya, Algeria,Tunisia, Morroco, Egypt) they were called “Moors” or “Moriscos” by the Spanish and they look like Arabs, they had middle eastern features or traits, which are very prevalent in DR, Cuba, Puerto-Rico, and a few other parts of latin America. People easily tend to forget that Africa is very diverse as well , not everyone from Africa is black, its like saying everyone from Asia looks Chinese.

  • N. Abreu

    Every time I read, or hear, a comment about how Dominicans hide their African heritage, it makes me laugh. What part of our African heritage we forgot or didn’t embrace?

    - Was it religion? Because I believe “Santeria” is still alive and well in DR.
    - Was it music? Has anyone seen a “Tambora”.
    - Was it dance? “Palos” or “Atabales” are still around.
    - Was it language?…okay I’ll give you that one. However, who in the Americas still speaks any on the languages that the slaves spoke?

    The problem with this documentary is that instead of showing how the African heritage survived on these two distinct nations, it tries to depict Dominicans as less “noble”, for not solely embrace its African roots. Dominicans are not the byproduct of just mixing Africans and Europeans for a couple decades. This mixing has been going on for almost five hundred years, with more than just these two cultures.

    In short, this was not a very fair documentary

  • Lulu

    I think all the protestations in these comments illustrate Professor Gates’ point PERFECTLY. I’m Puerto Rican and we have some of the same issues as the DR. My grandmother will go on and on about our “indian” blood, but one look at photos of my great-grandfather gives the lie to that. Deny all you want, it doesn’t change the truth.

  • 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”.

  • Raul

    Bias in Latin America. I understand that Dr. Gates did not like the Dominican Republic because of their history and because there is a lot of truth in the fact that a lot of Dominicans are not proud of their African heritage. Now, Dr. Gates did not mention the reverse racism that exists in Haiti where anyone that is not 100% black is discriminated. He ignore the fact that the fort that took 40 years to build is in the middle of nowhere and that if foreign forces ever reached that fort it was already too late.
    Just like Americans do not consider themselves British, Dominicans should not be forced or looked down upon because they want to distance themselves from anything that resembles Haiti. Finally, nothing upsets me more that Dr. Gates first of all talks about merengue, but plays salsa in the documentary (shows me that he did not do his homework from the start). Second of all Dr. Gates was only able to find one small community of Dominicans that is proud of their blackness in Villa Mella. Dr. Gates should go to Monte Plata, San Pedro de Macoris, and to San Cristobal. I know for a fact that there are several communities in those provinces that promote their African heritage. Don’t think I did not pay attention to that final jab at the end when you asked Moya-Pons the difference between Dominicans and Haitians. Dominicans and Haitians deserve that you dedicate them a full separate hour to each one of us. I consider this a disrespect!

  • Joselo

    I can sense a certain resentment by black Dominicans against white or non- black Dominicans. Dominican Republic is not 90% black. We are mostly mestizos or mixed. Just because you’re a black Dominican you cannot assume that all Dominicans are black. Having lived in the US for over 2 decades I can see more racism from black people towards other races than from white people. Although some white people are racist too. I think it all depends on what part of the US you are in. Even on what neighborhood you’re in.

    Many black people resent the fact that other people reject them, but they fail to see the way many of them behave publicly. Keeping their pants way below the waistline or how they horseplay with each other in crowded

  • jose

    It is just simply astonishing watching this garbage. First he stated that in 1844 was the first time Dominican people declared independence. WRONG Google Nunez De Caceres when we declared independence from Spain. Before we took part of Bolivars’ greater Colombia we were invaded by the salvages Haitians.

    Mr. Gates basically erased the salvages history of Haiti. Had he knows that when Haiti invaded DR they forbid white or mulato people from owning land, (THIS IS WHERE MOST WHITE FLED FOR PUERTO RICO, VENEZUELA, CUBA) not as he stated after the collapse of the sugar plantation century earlier, closed down the oldest univeresity in the new world UASD, closed ties with the vatican esentially forbidding Dominicans to practice their catholic religion, also tried to eliminate the white, lighskin population as they did in their country after their independence. In one town in Moca in the CIBAO region which by the way he stayed away from that region of the country which comprise almost half of the country very conveniently which is almost half of the country and very different than the capital; slaughter over 500 white, mulato inside a church.

    Had he done an unbias research he would had find out that after the occupation in 1844 the many Haitians who ocupied the country mainly in the Capital and San Pedro decided to take their chance in the Dominican side rather than their own in Haiti. Could that be because their dictator forced their own people to work as slaves as did the French?

    Haitians are the main culpable why they are living in a failed state. It took the UN and a bunch of countries to make posible in 2011 to help Haiti for the first time in their sad history to make a transition of leader without a bloodshed.

    Mr. Gate we had to defend 12 subsequent Haitians invasion and because of that some of our leader wrongly decided that the best way to keep us safe from the Haitians was to annex our country back to Spain.

    The Haitians like leeches had been trying to ocupy and unify our country with them and they will stop at nothing to get what they want. This time they are doing it peacefully with the help of people like you and all the NGO.

  • Kyle

    I Love Dominicans, I Think They Are Jamaicans And I Loved Haiti I Think They Are Africans

  • Jackie Perez

    I’m from Dominican Republic and as a New York City Middle School Teacher, I appreciate that Professor Gates has done this episode addressing the issue of the divide in the Dominican Republic because it opens the door to have a discussion about the topic. However, it would have been more thorough if he had addressed the Dominican Republic as a whole and not just its capital, Santo Domingo.

  • edward

    @Cervantes Although your post holds some truth, I have to argue aganist it! Here lies the problem- the term hispanic or latino, it is just to broad a concept to ecompass all the countries in latin america! As for instance calling latinos/hispanics, black by looking at cubans(on the island) makes sence as alot of cubans(on the island) have some form of african ancestory and look black/mulato/triracial. However calling latinos/hispanics black by looking at mexicans doesnt make sence as although they have a small degree of african ancestory/culture they are mostly spanish/native!

    you state – ‘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’

    IF you are talking about the ‘hispanic’ people of cuba then the majority do have black admixture and look in some way black, so ‘commenators’ are not being ‘false’. however if you are talking about the ‘hispanic’ people of mexico then you are in some way correct as the african admixture is small!

    Each latin american county has diffrent ethinc/racial mixture so the problem comes about when you bunch a whole load of countires under the hispanic/latino catorgery and in turn this catorgery is racialized!

    Ps. On the domincan issue, it is clear that their is some form of neagative assocation of blackness/Africanness in the DR(This is just a fact) . However I do accept that they are essential a mixed people/culture, Spanish and African- colonizer and colonized.

    Keep up the good work dr. Gates!

  • edward

    ‘Many black people resent the fact that other people reject them, but they fail to see the way many of them behave publicly. Keeping their pants way below the waistline or how they horseplay with each other in crowded

    You are making a distinction between the mixed domincans and black domincans but failing to aknowlodge that the ‘blacks’ in america are also mixed (one drop rule)!
    You state domincans are mostly mixed (which is true), then you critise the ‘black’ americans for ‘resenting the fact that other people reject them’. But African-americans are mixed group…thus if a mixed domincan where an american they would be ‘black’.

    So if this is the view you have on the ‘blacks’ in america, do you also think the same thing of the mixed people of the dominican republic who form the majority(70%)

  • maddie lavacana

    J Luis Marquez I extremely agree with you!! my parents are dominican and i was born in the usa. professor gates wasnt very clear about the dominican history!! first of all we know where we from and we dont have a complex The dominican history is nothing alike to the usa history!! plusBachata and merengue is our music… do ur research again!!

  • Diane E.

    I found this program incredibly fascinating, especially as a first-generation Haitian-American. As someone who was raised here in the U.S. by a family from Haiti, I have always found my experience and understanding of Blackness to be deeply intense and complicated. Without singing praise or being on the defensive, which I don’t think the program was about, Professor Gates’ work has extended the conversation about the obvious effects of race in places outside of the U.S. And this is important, because as Americans, I think we often think of race relations as very domestic, very local, very U.S.-centric issues. And they’re not. America is just one of the many places where ideas of race undeniably hold weight and have context. Even all of our responses here are fueled by respective cultural and racial identities. It’s coming to an understanding of that that will help us move forward. Where are we coming from when we think and say these things? Our roots are deep and tangled. I do have to commend Gates on embarking on such a difficult, complex, and endlessly interesting endeavor, prompting me to think about my own personal history in ways I hadn’t imagined: my Blackness wasn’t just born in Brooklyn, USA.

    In this narrowed and focused exploration of Blackness in Latin America, we see two different historical examples of race and the effects it can have on a land and its people. I don’t think it is meant to be exhaustive (how can it be in 52 minutes?). But it is definitely like a pick prodding to let the soil breathe. We just have to go in and plant the seeds.

  • Edisto

    I would think Porto Rico, Columbia, Venezuela,Costa Rica, Belize, and Nicaragua would be saved for a season 2. I’d question most of the peoples real ethnicity that are bashing the documentary, it seems to me they’re racists in disguise. Brain washing is a powerful thing… If whites in America did not tell black people they were different and second class citizens; the mass of black people in America probably would not like being identified as black either. It’s the exclusion that makes people aware of who they are. Less racism puts rose tinted glasses over the eyes of masses. There probably will be a period in the U.S. where people don’t identify with being black and become discriminated against but think of it being other reasons than people have prejudice views of their skin color. Inherently people just want to be part of something and black people just want to be like everyone else. The sad part is just when everyone else has direct/indirect racism towards people of African descent.

  • silvia

    The man has spent a lifetime researching this information. Yes you may have “lived” it but he has studied it. Get a grip he has seen the most objective facts… don’t like it, change it. All he has done is hold a mirror up to both countries.

  • jean-claude beauseniut

    Number one the original name of the island was Haiti or ayiti as it is pronounced in french,creole,spanish, and the native taino language not quisqueya. not only was it the name of the island but the tainos themselves considered the western part of the island to be their place of origin wether they were in cuba eastern hispaniola or the bahamas. secondly we haitians do not claim them in terms of ancestry but in the simple terms that they were there first and that should be important no matter what race you are. So dr. gates did something that was not educational by not talking about the natives. secondly he did not leave santo domingo wich is stupid because the country is much more diverse than the capital, he could have gone to the north, the south west and so-on and it did seem as though he favored haitians and tried to make the DR look like a racist country. thirdly he made vodou seem more widespread than it is people in haiti practice vodou as people in cuba, the DR, brazil, and other afro-latin american countries practice their african infuenced faiths but thy are all still predominantly christians. all together i thout the documentary focused to much differences than similarities, for example if you take merengue music, slowed it down and replaced the spanish lyrics with creole or haitian accented french, people would think that it was kompa, and if you took haitian troubadour music, sped it up musically and lyrically with the spanish language people would think that is was it bachata. another example is food such as fried plantains and some other stuff but not even going to get into that.


  • Elisa

    i feel as if black people want to make dominican people black and only black. I am a 20 year old dominican girl and i know i have some african blood in me and also european because you can tell the mixture, i might have european hair but i have a mixture of both when it comes to my nose, and to be honest i do not consider myself black nor white i consider myself a latina a dominicana and no one is going to tell me otherwise. Why is it that black people always think someone that is mix with black are automatically black? what about the other half? dont they get considered? If dominicans dont want to be called blacks then dont call them blacks thats how they identify themselves, they have the right to identify themselves as whoever they want. In my country you never heard anything concerning race only in the USA do you hear stuff about race and thats why USA still hasnt been able to move on, especially african americans more than any other race i have seen, they obsess too much on the race card.

  • Elisa

    In addition he left the tainos out too, my mom has taino blood and that does not make me a black nor a white, nor a taino.

  • Fresnel Fanfan II

    I am a Haitian mulatto and compared to my fellow Dominican brethren I am lighter in skin than a lot of them. If I was born in DR, My family and I would probably be considered “Indio” by them (even if I am not aware of any Taino blood in me). I notice that Dominicans who are darker than me tell me that they are not black when it is evident in their features. The mulatto population in Haiti does not deny their African ancestry. DR is overwhelmingly mulatto but attributes their light brown skin to the Taino Indians more than they do to their African ancestry.
    Most of Domininican browness comes from Africa and not Indian.The Taino Indians have been engrained in the identity of the Dominican people but the percentage of Indian in the blood of “Hispaniolans” (Haiti & DR) is too small for that. The Taino Indians lived throughout the whole island of Hispaniola. Traces of Taino blood are also in the overwhelmingly black Haitian population as well but its such a recessive gene that it doesn’t show much. The Taino Indians are in the blood of both the Haitian and Dominican people but because it is such a small amount, it does not guaranteed that all Haitian or Dominican have that in them. In actuality-historically speaking- most of the Taino’s died when the Europeans came on the island because they did not have an immunity to the diseases of the Western World.

  • Chris

    PBS missed an opportunity to present something balanced and nuanced, faithful to the historical record. Instead it presents a laughable bit of feel-good propaganda which cherrypicks the historical facts to suit Prof. Gates’s “black empowering” presumptions and bias. This show boils down to special pleading for the specious presumption that blacks are always already victims, and everything blacks do and did (even to each other) is the fault of foreigners and racists. That’s only partly true, but is too simplistic and ignores the horrendous record of Haitian mulattos and negros infighting throughout their history, even after the whites were expelled. Gates skips the 1800s because it is a period of serial dictatorships and corrution that shows Haiti cannot run its own affairs responsibly. Most shamefully, Gates blames Haiti’s current woes on the Marine occupation in 1914! Ridiculous. The Marines actually imposed stability and constructed much useful infrastructure after decades of black-on-black exploitation and violence. But for Gates, no whites can be credited with any good. In the Dominican part of the film, he concentrates on the color term “indio” which is indeed overused by Dominicans who prefer to be seen as whitish, but he ignores the much more widely used term “moreno” which is accepted by the majority of Dominicans, and basically means “brown.” When Gates says of the Domincans “they whitened the brother,” he reveals his own biased perspective by assuming Dominicans are like African-American “brothers.” Sorry, but Dominicans have their own colored culture and it ain’t about ghetto bro’s and ho’s. This PBS documentary is clearly aimed at African-American schoolkids, who have been conditioned to swallow falsely simplified explanations of their underclass status. gates does them a disservice by feeding pablum, because the nostrum that bad history is all due to color prejudice won’t help his brothers and sisters escape their oppressed fate. Gates never once mentions capitalism and greed, which are the REAL culprits for Haiti’s suffering from the plantation days to the present. Race served capitalists as a handy tool to divide and conquer the people in order to seize the profitable land and industry. That’s still going on, its a pure Marxist nightmare, but today the profiteers are the ruling class of colored Haitians, and they are to answer for the continuing oppression of their fellow Haitians (along with their enablers in the USA, the UN, etc).

  • Borges

    I am completely imbued by sadness upon reading the comments that many of the African Americans have written regarding this program. For it shows in no uncertain terms the inferiority complex that pervades their existence in the U.S. For their reaction to this flawed presentation of the people of D.R. is not in itself problematic to them, rather, it is the fact that it reveals to them the way they actual feel about themselves. Indeed, this medium has allowed them the ability to vent their frustrations (hatred of their kinky hair, big lips, flat nose, etc.) that they feel living and existing in a society where they are viewed as completely “other” even though “some” have been in this country for several hundred years.

    The history of the Dominican Republic shows that the country has suffer from underpopulation for most of its existence. Indeed, the 1870 census shows that its population was in or around 150,000 and less than 100 years later it had close to 10 milion people. (It should be duly noted that the Spanish had abandoned the country in the mid-1700’s and throughout the 1800’s the vast majority of the population (white settlers) were migrating to other Spanish colonies as a result. )The population started to increase in the 1900’s with the migration of Haitians and Afro-Caribbeans from the British territories to work in the sugar cane fields. In short, the overwhelming majority of the Afro-Dominican population are recent arrivals to the country. Hence, the question really is why are these Haitians and African Caribbean immigrants distinguishing themselves from their Haitians brothers??? For the true Dominicans which are overwhelmingly non-black from the Highlands (Cibao) of the Dominican Republic, do not have issues with African people.

  • Ivy

    As an African American woman who is light skinned I am angered by Dominican Republicans denial of their African ancestry. We are all mixed (I can say that through admixture, I am black, white and indian). The only difference between you and me is that you speak Spanish. Get over yourselves… in the United States you are BLACK!!!!!!! I bet if you were to go to Spain they would disown you because of your color!!!

  • Luis cosiga

    Dr. Gates you can make a presentation of the situation of poverty that Haitians are living siblings and that is understood. But it absurdo by you that you so misleading and want to make a false interppretacion cultural framework has developed the Dominican Republic . You must first of Haiti was a colony of sugar production of France and much of the wealth now because France was the first sugar plantations. In addition, the United States backed a dictator Dubalier for over twenty years and enriched the resources of the Haitian people. And where you have to consecuence, that although the United States has a president of color. Neither France nor the United States have not helped the rebuilding of the Haitian people. If it has been another country other than Haiti the situation had been different. But both you and the United Nations, France, USA, and the rich countries want the Dominican Republic to assume responsibility for the poverty of Haiti. These is a lack of respect for the dignity of millions of Dominicans who every day have to jump in the water to cross the Mona Passage at the expense that sharks eat them. So how do you think the short cut to hard-Dominican and sacrifice has survived thousands of hardshifts assume the responsibility of the 8 million Haitians. The confusion you’re trying to wash the celebrated many gullible I’m not going to do you or anyone else. That is a situation I’m sure you’re not going to work a week. And the money you earn is going to given to your neighbor because it is so you. All people have to have people try to understand that a country must be fought collectively to seek progress. United State which is the richest and most powerful nation in the world when the Haitian emigrant undocumented Haitians to American soil are returned to their country. Then, because we Dominicans are a poor country take responsibility for Haitians. Haitians themselves have cleared their own country. Its rulers have used the government to get rich and powerful then go to other countries.

    Dr. Gates you want to wash the brains like Haiti and the Dominican Republic are the same. You are misinformed, because you do not document well in any aspect with reference to the historical context of the founding of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. It was Christopher Columbus sailed from Spain and discovered the island were not Africans. The Spanish island of the chiefdom was didivida five Indio
    That you never mention Indian because you want to leave in the minds of readers as it was the Africans who discovered the island and that the Indians did not exist. And they were so brave Indians were the first slaves to the Europeans, the Europeans imposed such hard work that many died in the works.That the Catholic Church to make a complaint to stop the abuse that forced the Indians. As an Indian rebel ENRIQUILLO THAT IN BUYING Europeans and he is the first that revel in the Dominican Republic and is a national hero. It was then brought black slaves to replace Indian in the Dominicans Republic.

    Dr. Gates you want to minimize the independence of the Dominican Republic, per ouster forgot that when the Haitians to Haiti withdrawal going the history says a group of Haitians looted and burned to carefully and were more has entered into a Catholic church killed all those in the Church that the blood came to wait of people and children who were in the Church Haitian military had a sword which means 42 inches curb children threw up in the air skewered and then in sword. The best that can happen is that Haiti is left as Haiti and the Dominican Republic is the Dominican Republic, celebrate differences and God forbid that the rich countries will soften their harts and help the Haitian people to follow his Reconstructionist .. The Afro-Antillean Dominican Republic do not feel they have no afro connetion with Haitian antilllanos.

    My recommendations for Haitians. That mimic the Dominicans and feet as white.because the end all the world is to live well, to forget that Africa offers to keep thinking as African not make any sense.

  • Nancy

    Great piece of work. I am African in diaspora but thii could well be any part of Sub-Saharan Africa! We are all the same. I say remove all the foreigners from North African strating from North Sudan to Tunisia and bring back all the black people spread around the world to their mother continent! Imagine, Egypt emptied of all Arabs and filled with the 75m blacks in Brazil? Africa would be paradise, just like the creator intended it to be. Hats off Prof Gates..enjoyed all the series.

  • Jo

    I am Dominican and I consider myself African and European. For me it isn’t the issue of denying my African background embracing it. The island(s) are all mixed of European and African. My family is Dutch decent from one side and Spanish/English. I can see why many state the people from the island are racist toward African’s and deny their heritage but everyone had to try to understand the generation growing up are the children from the Trujillo Era. During that era Trujillo tried to “whiten” the population (mind you his grandmother was Haitian). In conclusion it is all ignorance and all we really have to do is educate.

  • sushi

    It does not matter who mixed with whom to the world we are all black

  • Dwayne

    The documentary is called BLACK In Latin America (not Spanish or TAINOS)! Dr. Gates (and no one else for that matter) doesn’t deny the fact that the Dominican people are an amalgamation of races and cultures. He actually points it out. However, for the purposes of this particular documentary’s subject matter, he focused mostly on the part of their culture that is AFRICAN in nature. What’s wrong with that? Calm down people (those of you complaining)! Your level of hypersensitivity actually proves part of the point Dr. Gates alludes to in the film. All you have to do is flip the script to see my point. If Dr. Gates focused mainly on the TAINOS and Spanish heritage of the Dominican culture, and barely mentioned their African ancestry, would those of you complaining now be doing so then? I hardly think so.

    The fact is there exists, among many Latin people of African decent, a tendency to embrace their European and Indian lineage but consistently and emphatically deny, or play down, their African heritage (I was surprised and disappointed that he didn’t do one of the segments on Puerto Rico). Many of you suffer from what I like to call The Tiger Woods Syndrome. African Americans aren’t upset with Tiger because he embraces his Thai roots. For him to deny them would be a rejection of his mother. However, the reason many African Americans find Tiger to be racially upsetting is because he doesn’t embrace his African roots with equal fervor. When it comes to his father’s side of his make up (African), he does what so many of us (blacks) tend to do – look for whatever morsel of some other DNA we can find to mix it with so we can deny the true reason behind why we look the way we do (dark skin, wide nose, thick lips, kinky hair).

    Wake up, people! We are all a beautiful tapestry of several races, all of them equally valid. I am the descendant of Jamaican emigrants, who descended from African slaves. I also have an ancestor, on my mother’s side, who was a guest at Queen Victoria’s wedding (an Englishwoman)! My paternal grandmother’s father was descended from east India (sometimes negatively referred to, by Jamaicans, as a Cooley). My point is that I embrace all parts of my make up equally. Dr. Gates merely points out, in this documentary, the failure of some aspects of Dominican culture to do just that.

  • Carlos

    As a proud American of Dominican descent, I praise Prof Gates for these very informative episodes. They were four episodes of 50 minutes each. People who complain about information being left out are nitpicking or have an agenda. For one, please fellow Dominicans get off the Taino thing. It’s embarrassing. There are very few, if any, Dominicans with Native American ancestry. If there were a large number of Dominicans with Taino ancestry there would be no Black people in the Americas. After all, slaves were brought to the Americas to prevent the extermination of Native Americans from overwork that had occurred in the Caribbean from happening in other parts of the hemisphere. I don’t hear any Dominicans complaining in the name of accuracy about the omission of the large Japanese-Brazilian population in the second episode or for that matter the omission of the growing Asian presence in the Dominican Republic. The series is called “Black in Latin America” not the “Ethnicities of Latin America” or something like that.

    Now, having stated that, those who claim that because Dominicans and Haitians both share African ancestry, they are one people with one history are themselves being racist. They are judging people by race when culture matters more, since after all culture is how we live. I also sensed some condescension from Haitians and other non-Dominicans towards us. I feel sadness when I hear some Dominican denying his or her African heritage. However, it is up to us as Dominicans and Latinos in general to find our own paths out of the shadow of self-hatred and ignorance. When Haitians, African-Americans, or any other group of people have completely eliminated color prejudice and self-hatred from their own ranks, then you can give us a call and share your “wisdom” with us.

    Finally, I just want to thank Prof. Gates and PBS for this very important project!

  • vicenzo ofarel

    this is not the true about la hispañola you are wrong

  • Aletha

    I scrolled down just so I could comment, and see that Dewayne clarified things for you. The subject of the documentary dealt with African lineage, and not Taino (although Prof. Gates did talk about how the Taino technically died out, and when you REALLY break it down, the Arawaks and Caribs should be recognized as separate native people and even THEY are no longer with us).
    I don’t agree with the Tiger Woods comment. His father was of mixed heritage as well, and Tiger is allowed to claim his Asian roots because he IS more Asian than anything else. My issue with him is that he needed to understand how society sees him (and I think, after his personal life got blasted on TV, he gets it now) as a Black man. It’s almost how a boy with an absent African father and a White mother, who was raised with Pacific Islanders, is automatically labelled as African American and everything stereotyped with it, and not bi-racial (Si Se Puede, POTUS!!).
    My heritage is diverse, and I embrace it all. Professor Gates, you’ll be receiving an email from me soon!
    But yeah, folks, it’s really okay. If anyone wants to create a documentary of “Taino in Latin America” I will watch it.

  • Lisa

    Luis Cosiga, your criticism is so convoluted and misinformed as to be silly. First, let’s get the DR’s history correct. There is no Taino culture (indigenous Indian) in the DR because most of the Tainoes died shortly after the Spanish colonized the island and enslaved them. The Spanish, needing more slaves imported African slaves which grew to outnumber the Spanish colonists. Over the years, the Spanish mixed with the slaves producing a country of mostly mulattos, but a color range is present.
    Professor Gates is absolutely correct to focus on the DR’s repressed African heritage. No matter how Spanish Dominicans like to believe they are, the domiant racial influence has been African. It doesn’t take a historian to figure this out- just LOOK at most Dominicans.

  • jeansanon

    The Dominican elite had made sure they depicted to their proletariat the image of Haiti that best served their political interest. When corruption and mismanagement are the rules ,the easiest way to fool the population is to look down to Haiti and say “look,we provide you with 4 hours of electricity a day but our neighbor has a couple of hours every other day.’When Dominicans and Haitian got together they enjoy themselves regardless of the tone of their skin.No matter what,they are the two wings of the same bird: HISPANIOLA

  • Adriana

    I was born in the United States from Dominicans parents. I don’t consider myself as a American, i mean, my culture, my traditions, my beliefs, my blood, my looks and my heart belong to Dominican Republic. I love my country and I will defend it even in grave.
    As i said earlier i love my country, but my love isn’t blind i know my countries fault and discrimination to our sister nation members does exist.
    Discrimination toward both countries is something we have to change for the peace and develop of our nations and we have to enjoy that our two countries only together make that beautiful island called Hispaniola.

    “There isn’t a bigger Dominican than a Haitian or a bigger Haitian than a Dominican”.

  • Mariana

    I noticed in the comments some asked why is Prof. Gates did not mentioned TAINOS, well the name of this series is “Black in Latin America”. In the segment for “Peru and Mexico : The Black Grandmother in the Closet” he didn’t mention INCAS or MAYANS..this is about the Black, African roots in Latin America, don’t take it as offensive, he is not ignoring those cultures, he is just focusing on the Black population in those countries.

  • chipoltespice

    The worst thing God ever created was eyes. If we were blind what color would people be?

  • Mirna Montano

    I’m so glad that this documentary came out- I’m Dominican..and all what Prof. Gates ortrayed in this documentayr its totally true!..Thank you!!!

  • Jan

    As a Haitian Canadian that was adopted at the age of 9 I want more please. I have been reading books about blacks all over the world because in Canada our black history is small. Why would anyone denied there black roots when in fact those slaves who survived were the strong ones without them you would not be here. I love my Haitian history it is rich in african black culture. I have meant many blacks from all over the world that have so much respect for Haitians we blacks never give up we are strong group of people for what we went through.Some said that its like Mr Gates did not frown upon us Haitians killing the French why should he it was for survival, I will never feel sorry for the French for what there did was digusting to us Haitian. We are still suffering because of Eurocentric racist views. The only thing the French ever give was the French lanuage which is beautiful other then that there can kiss my ass. I would go on but my metis son has French blood in him which I never wanted in the first place and he will learn French to fight the evil. I Africans I have meant also try to tell me what part of Africa I am from Nigeria, Benin, Congo,Ghana ect They have told me about what really happened during the slave trade some Africans were involved willingly majority were forced into enslaving other blacks and the Europeans threatening families if there didn’t do as there were told.

    Some said oh what about the Taino who cares this is about black in Latin America if you wish to learn more about them read a book. People in all those places are annoying what about the Tainos what about them all those wonderful culture screams AFRICA and Europe not Taino. If you people do not like black then stop doing black culure things that are part of the Latin culture just do European and Taino things. Haiti will take all the African part of your culture because we are proud blacks except those metis bastards running Haiti. Why would anyone be proud of having European blood when it was RAPE? I will never get that it should be the another way around. If I knew I had European blood I would never tell a soul because it was Rape was praise the RAPIST?

  • Mestizo

    Alexandro says:

    April 13, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    “I really like the documentary but I wonder why you do not mention the Taino race, which is why some if not most of Dominican have that Brown color skin”

    Tainos were for sure not whites, because conquistadores described then as loros ( not white, not black = mulatto color) but in 1550 less than 250 Tainos remained in la Hispaniola according to the spanish themselves (see Kenneth R Andrews “The Spanish Carribean : Trade and Plunder 1530-1630 pp 6-13)

    After decades of Spanish presence, very few Tainos remained, this explains why many Spanish left la Hispaniola (no more free labor force or slaves). Spanish had then a new idea: to organize slave raidings in neighbouring islands (Bahamas, Curaçao etc) or in American lands (Guyana/ Venezuela) to repopulate Cuba, Puerto Rico and la Hispaniola.

    These native indian slaves are in majority the ancestors of those Cubans, Puerto Ricans or Dominicans who have native indian ancestry: see Esteban Mira Caballos “El indio antillano: Repartimiento, encomienda y esclavitud (1492-1542)” or Carlos Esteban Deive “La Espanola y la esclavitud del Indio” or José Antonio Saco ” Historia de la Esclavitud de los indios en el nuevo mundo”

    Portuguese also sold native Indian slaves from Brazil to Spanish in Santo Domingo and Puerto Rico. We have to be aware also that Native Indians and Africans mixed more together (to produce the zambo), comparing to the Native Indians and Spanish unions (Mestizos)…Native Indians and Africans lived and worked together in the slave plantations. Even after Indian slavery was banned, native indians were like the serfs of medieval Europe and continued to work and live and with the black slaves : see Gonzalo Aguirre Beltran (La Poblacion Negra de Mexico) , Carlos Esteban Deive ( El Indio, El Negro ,y la Vida Traditional Dominicana), Jack D Forbes (Africans and Native Americans) etc

    Africans and Native Indians lived together in Maroon societies communities in La Hispaniola (Enriquillo before he cheated his Africans and Tainos maroons allies ), Puerto Rico or Cuba. See “Los Guerrilleros Negros” by Carlos Esteban Deive or Richard Price “Maroons Societies”

    For all Dominican scholars African ancestry is the biggest component of their Dominican ancestry: Frank Moya Pons, Celsa Albert Batista, Franco Franklin, Roberto Cassa, Carlos Larrazabal Blanco, Carlos Esteban Deive, Alan Cambeira, Hugo Tolentino Dipp etc.

    The Dominican Republic is a mixed country, the Black and mulatto component is the biggest meaning that African ancestry is the more important. Keeping in mind that many Dominicans mulattoes call themselves whites when some blacks call themselves mulattoes.

    Dominicans and Haitians are both colored countries. Dominican Republic is ruled by a white/mulatto elite who is responsible for this national racist policy towards Haitians, but Dominicans are not racist because more than 1 millions Haitian illegals live in this country and many of them have an Haitian ancestor (Grandfather, Grandmother, Mother, Father etc)


  • multh

    Bom dia, Stella!!Comprei um P500 e no manual consta que esse aperelho tem jogos. Quais os jogos que acompanham ele e como faço para encontrá-los para jogar?Um abraço e até breve.

  • crystalmoonys

    i can tell that yes, there are people that went to the Dominican Republic from Europe and even from Asia, but we Dominicans want to ignore our African heritage too. Africans went to DR against their will and sometimes we Dominicans just want to ignore it and put down our own race;our own background…that is sad to see specially when you get out of your country and realize that being black there you where often discriminated by people lighter than you people who are Dominican as i am…

  • Dusty Neild

    At 1:17 while he was in the water, there is something in the water at the top left part of the screen.. I wonder what it is…??

  • Chris K.

    I fully agree with the other Chris above (August 30): the documentary should have been much more nuanced rather than creating an over simplified dichotomy between ‘unproud’ brown Dominicans and ‘proud’ black Haitians. Dominicans have their own colored culture, trying to frame it in an American framework of race and color is bound to lead to misleading results.

    Most importantly though I think it is inexcusable that there is absolutely no mention of racism in Haitian society today. Mr. Gates claims that Haitians are proud of their black history and even have made it part of their national identity. While this may be true to some extent he completely fails to mention that it have traditionally been the more white or Mulatto families that hold power in Haiti. And more importantly, that many of these Mulattos will not miss any opportunity to distinguish themselves from, and assert superiority over their fellow black Haitians citizens.

    Racism is a major issue in Haitian society. To omit it in a documentary that focuses on being black in Latin America is not acceptable.

  • TainoDominicano

    My dominican brothers have been misled by Trujillo (being himself part Haiatian, and had African blood) national propaganda :

    1. Tainos were almost wiped out in the early 1500s (used as slaves before our African ancestors), only hundreds remained : hundreds/thousands have been sent to Spain slave markets

    2. When few Tainos slaves remained in la Hispaniola ( original name given by the Tainos was HAITI or AYITI),Puerto Rico and Cuba. Spanish organized a huge slave trade in the carribeans, they hunted down slaves in the Bahamas ( lucayos indians closed to the tainos were sent to la Hispaniola), in Curaçao, in he Mainland ( Guyana/Venezuela = original place of the Tainos)

    We have Taino blood, but the biggest part of our Native Indian ancestry comes from these Native Indians slaves kidnapped in the carribbeans and the Mainland.

    3. Africans Male slaves married , lived and had child with the Tainos women and these Native indians women (offspring called Alcatraces) slaves who followed the Tainos : we have a legacy of the native indians via the huge zambo type present in the DR

    4. Africans were more numerous than Spanish and Indians in all colonial censuses : we have the 3 bloods running in us but the African component is the biggest : Religion (Dominican Vodoun , Santeria, cult of the ancestors), Our spanish is influenced by african languages ( no S, L instead or R, mofongo, toto, fulani, bembe), our music is influenced by African (merengue is based on CATA, an african rhythm from Congo/ Angola), our Food etc

    We are a mixed country no doubt, the main component being African. Eso es !

  • Sukotsu

    This documentary tries to paint with a broad brush. No one is denying that we have African descendants in DR, but unlike Haiti which is like 98% African, DR on the other hand is way more mixed, something like white(15%), black(12%), arab(34%), mulattos(23%), taino(1%) other(15%)

  • Jorge from bonao

    The shared sentiment by many Haitians and Dominicans that there should be more unity between the two nations is a noble one,but surely not based on reality.We are two distinctively different nations who just happen to have the, not so common, distinction of sharing the same island.What should be fostered and nurtured is better relations between the two people where each can freely celebrate their own unique and colorful cultures and heritage without any suspicion and animosity towards each other.

  • Dominican_Sensation

    Sukotsu where are you getting your facts from????

    There is a small percentage of white Haitians and Dominicans but about %90 of Dominicans and Haitians are blacks…..It’s true that Dominicans are more mixed and have lighter skin tones – but being mix and have lighter skin tones doesn’t make you a white person.

    Brazilians and Cape Verdeans are lighter in skin than most Dominicans, yet they admit that they are black, so why do most Dominicans assume being mix make them white or Indio ???

    I’d like yo see all those mixed Dominicans who think that they are so white go to Alabama or Mississippi for a weekend to try to convince the locals that they are also white …..I am pretty sure that they would have an eye opener after that weekend.

  • hilaria

    Dominican-Sensation dear, you are very wrong as African Americans and Haitians, Dominicans are not saying that are white, I have read all the answers Dominicans and Dominicans have correct and accurate idea of what they are, they say no are neither white nor black, they are defined only as mestizos, besides Dominicans are not asking to be a colony, or Haiti, or the United States, or Spain, Dominicans only aspire to be Dominican, Dominicans who were born in states united and black and mulatto or herself as African-Americans want to have to respect their ideas, but then to come to the Dominican Republic to impose their cultural and racial laws I disagree, in the Dominican Republic are not going to impose the struggles and racial issues in black and white Americans, let them solve their problems, we Dominicans are not going to impose its law on a drop, domicano living in the United States to suit American culture, but here it we do not bring your American racial madness and paranoia

  • hilaria

    somo mostly mulatto Dominicans, not the product of rape as a mulatto African Americans, Haitians and Brazilians, mulattos are truly in our culture and roots, somo true descendants of mixed marriages between poor whites and African slave descendants, with a minority of Indian presence , Spain abandoned the island and whites who were here in Santo Domingo were as poor as their own slaves that effectively favor intermarriage between colonizadory colonized clear that the Spanish Crown did not accept these marriages with us for centuries but we have not identified as white, but neither as black, our struggles for independence were just against blacks and whites, against Spain and Haiti, Haitian and Spanish were expelled precisely because we wanted to impose their racial conflicots in a nation like the Dominican Republic who has never known the racial struggle in America or Haiti, Dominicans living in the U.S. suffer psychologically to see a nation as deeply divided racially united states, God forbid Dominicans of American racial impositions, that would be crazy for us as a country for all races and ethnic groups have lived together peacefully, God forbid.

  • Karey Munda

    I keep reading the same point over and over again about the Taino heritage. This documentary is not supporting or denying it; however, the purpose of this documentary is “BLACK” in Latin America. Every country is somewhat multiracial and is impacted by various groups. Haiti also had natives prior to the French and the Africans. Other groups migrated to Haiti at some point but the documentary is not about the make up of the land but the “BLACK” part of its people, culture and so on.

  • Kym Mizelle

    I want to say thank you for this!

  • Mellissa Cowher

    This site is fantastic! Many thanks for the details. I constantly learn one thing new when I check out. Many thanks.

  • Dg

    I don’t know why they say that Spain is the motherland. I went to Spain & they hate us there. They love us in Africa. My motherland is AFRICA, & I’m a “white” Dominican from “light skinned” Santiago.

  • Renau

    I am Haitian-American and as a child I would visit Haiti every year but I would never have an interest of visiting D.R. because of the way I saw them interact with Haitians in Haiti. They would literally come in Haiti as if they’re of higher class or own the damn place. After moving to NY I got to see how Dominicans interact on a day in and day out basis. 90% of them are in COMPLETE DENILE of their self-identity. If you are as black as me – you are black and not Indio.

    Christopher Columbus killed ALL of the indians a long time ago hence the point of them bringing slaves to the island to do their labor. The same man who enslaved your ancestors are the same man you honor today? WTF? Am I the only one who thinks there’s something wrong with that? Also, why are there Indios in DR but not in Haiti when they share the same island?!? The heat the hell out of their hair to straighten it and bleach their skin to become lighter in appearance but clorox can never wash away your DNA. You hear Dominicans using the word “Nigga” all the time to refer to themselves and others in conversation but as soon as you call them Black they’re ready to fight. From my experience the are racist within their own community: the lighter Dominicans treat the darker ones bad. That’s why the darker ones want to marry lighter Dominicans. Also, Spain is not your mother land just like France is not Haiti’s mother land…… AFRICA IS OUR MOTHER LAND. If you call a person from Spain hispanic – they will get offended. Why? Because they want to separate themselves from those in South America and the Caribbean. You didn’t get your big noses, butts, hips, and lips from the alleged “Indians” or Europeans so please stop it!!! You’re mad at the Haitians for occupying your country for 22 years but idolize the Spainards who rapped, killed, enslaved and caused your identity issues in the first place for over 100 years. Dominicans treat the Mexicans like trash because of the Mexicans look like Indians but Dominicans say they’re Indio….. like are you serious?!?! So they use “Indio” to their advantage. Truth be told if they were really Indio — 90% of them would look like the average Mexican. Dominicans stop it with the self hatred and embrace who you really are.

  • Marcus Wilkerson

    Come on guys, he couldnt cover everything. Im getting ready to do a series on the Dominican Republic and Haiti I am going to cover the good and bad. I will cover the Tainos since I dont know anything about either Dominican culture or Haitian culture. So someone give me a list of things I should cover when i begin to film on the Dominican culture and someone give me a list what I should cover on the Haitian culture.

  • jessica joseph

    black, withe yellow,I do not care about your race nor your color the reason we have audacity to tall is because you can breath how much it’s cost you nothing is free, what color is our blood, what about when you die berry cremation, we all going to die just stop it you know better than that,

  • R C

    Thank you PBS and Professor Henry Louis Gates for bringing up the long overdue unveiling of Latin-America’s best kept secret. I was born and raised in Cuba until the age of 31, living now in The States for the past 15 years. My grandma was black and she was the daughter of cimarrones -runaway slaves-. Cuba is a Black nation with a whopping 83% African-cubans, about 9 millions out of a total population of 11.7 m. Some work in government owned plantations being paid 12 dollars a month whereas their white countrymen work in the government run tourist industry making 30 times that amount. That might explain the 58% unemployment. People rely on the foodstamp cards for subsistence. There is no black middle class in Cuba and African-cuban small business owners are almost nonexistent. They are not allowed to unionize or form political parties. Unfortunately it is shocking to realize that African-cubans don’t have a voice in government. The Castro Brothers that have been running the island with an iron fist for the last 53 years and are the sons of an European landlord from Galicia, Spain who owned a plantation in eastern Cuba. Fidel Castro is one of the richest man alive according to Forbes Magazine. Please keep up the good works.

  • Myra

    Dear Dr. Gates :
    After having seen the PBS documentary online titled Black in Latin America – specifically the episode titled Haiti and the Dominican Republic: An Island Divided – and having watched it again a few nights ago on WLRN Channel 17 (Miami, Florida), I once again find myself with a sentiment of indignation, and at times discontent, over the disrespect you have shown toward the Dominican people. My indignation is even greater towards PBS for allowing you to go ahead with this mockery you have made of people who have been noble (yes, noble although you never referred to Dominicans as such), hard-working, and – even with their imperfections – always trying to become better socially and politically.
    You speak of the negatives of racism; however, the tone in your voice and your choice of words denote a deeply rooted racism that prevents you from being an impartial/objective observer. What do you know about the Dominican people, their history, and their culture to give you the right to make public conjectures that only disparage their image in the international community? How was it that PBS allowed you to take on such a role?
    Are Dominicans responsible for how others run their country? Who were the first ones to offer help after the devastating earthquake? How much have you helped Haiti in their years of despair? As a responsible individual, you should be focusing more on how to help Haitians with the troubles they have instead of inciting people with cheap assumptions.
    Yes, a majority of Dominicans are of mixed race (73% – CIA The World Factbook), but so what? Is it a problem what they prefer to call themselves? Who are you to try to impose your ideals on them? From reading the postings on the site’s feedback section, I can see that I am not the only person who feels insulted by your sarcasm and lack of objectivity. And, yes, Dominicans identify more with Spain than with any other nation. What is the problem with that? For good or for worse, Spain has always been by the side of the Dominican Republic. Spain is the Motherland!
    Dr, Gates, I believe you owe Dominican people an apology for your insidious remarks, even to the extent of mocking the image of a national hero, Ramón Matías Mella, because he was a mulatto and his statue at the Altar de la Patria is of white marble.

    Hoping you can repair some of the damage you have caused,

  • Vonnie James

    Excellent documentary. Currently, I am working on an paper on Haiti, and this piece helped immensely.
    Grenada Institute for Theological Education.

  • lextheimpaler

    To all the Dominicans claiming to be Tainos what does Haiti mean in the Taino language? Louis Joseph Janvier one of Haiti’s greatest intellectuals was also of Taino ancestry. Chinese, Arab, Jew, whites, etc. are also part of the Haitian nation. we different only in the frequency of these groups in our nations.

  • sylvia

    Hi everyone,

    Firstly, I wanted to send out a big thank you to Dr. Gates and PBS for making this special.

    Secondly, I wanted to say I agree with your comment Jo.

    I am Haitian american, born and raised in NY and is constantly seeking more knowledge about my culture. I currently live in a mixed west-Indian community, so i meet and build friendships with all sorts of people. One of my good Dominican friends from college, spoke to me about her culture, and their denial about having black ancestry, and even racism in her culture. My friend told me that back home in DR, many people have shun their fellow Dominicans for having darker hues, and carrying more African features.

    Because of her dark skin and kinky hair she hated herself, her school mates back home made fun of her and her family encouraged her to marry in family that carries more European features. And that is exactly what she did. There is nothing wrong with having a preference, its just that you should love yourself completely, if not so, how will you teach your daughters to love themselves.

    The funny thing is that, know matter what color your skin is, if your Dominican/ Hispanic and you visit america, you are still considered minority, even black. If more than 80% of the country is black, what do you think people outside country will think of you.

    Maybe Dr. Gates should have interviewed and visited more places in DR, but the fact is that there is a lack of black awareness in the country. To back it up Dr. Gates had some credible Dominican historians in this documentary who spoke about the countries denial, their history and even about the late presidents idea about encouraging their countries superiority towards their neighbors the “Haitians”, even though the president had Haitian ancestors .

    Now did anyone know that the president placed white powder on his face to appear more white?????????? I don’t think so, and it takes research to find that out…

    All I’m saying is that, we should embrace our complete history and ethnicity, because that is what make us a complete person.

    Peace and love!

  • Darlene Thevenin

    This is the reality. Even in other island nations, Haitians are looked down upon, not because they are black, but because of their way of life, they way they carry themselves, their worship (Voodoo) and the way they proliferate.

    In the Dominican Republic, you would not think twice about dating a Haitian, especially if they were black.

    It is awful, but it is the reality 8 million + strong.

  • Nevena

    I wish people would stop being so ignorant in their comments to this video. Someone mentioned why is he making Dominicans look like racist pigs, and why did he not talk about how Haitians steal and rape their women. uhmmmmmm how about because that has nothing to do with the point of his documentary. He is not trying to exploit the two countries, but merely talking about SOME of the facts from history. HE CAN NOT PLEASE EVERYONE. If he included all the facts of the two countries it would not be 50 min long but hours long. And obviously there is going to be SOME type of bias whatever you watch or read. All these comments are bias to the fullest extent too. So if you’re not happy with this video move along, and make your own video if its that big of a deal.

  • Juan Pablo Pichardo

    The title of this film should be: Haiti the first-ever black republic.

    Due to the fact that much of the film explains how african slaves fought for liberation over Napoleon Bonaparte’s French Empire. Dominican Republic is only 168 years old as an independent nation, liberated from haitian rule in 1844 and restored from spanish occupation in 1865. Dominican Republic mentioned at the end of the film was the first to Aid haiti during the earthquake of 2010

    Dominicans and haitians should not be seen as a divided people, in fact today many dominicans are from haitian decent or spanish ancestry. Prior to Dominican Republic’s independance in 1844, actual division of the island was made by the Ryswick peace treaty of 1697 which divided the island in two, the west side french and the east side to Spain. In 1795, treaty of Basel, Spain gave up it’s colony to France.

    Haitians and Dominicans have both suffered from corrupt governments in the past but today share the Island as neighbors, while many are exploited and abused, still the international community has given up on Haiti. Eventually Dominican Republic will become home to many haitians.

    My intention is to clarify that Dominicans are not to blame for Haiti’s present situation or it’s past. February 27, 1844 is our Fourth of July. from Haitian rule. and we too have suffured. Dominicans are proud of the motherland. We will never give up our Sovereignty.

  • Carol

    This series is very interesting in some ways. I agree with certain points of views, but definitely not all. I believe that once you migrate to another part of the world; you as a person are still an immigrant. However, your second, third, fourth…generation will not identify themselves with the country where their first ancestor migrated from. For example, if you come from Colombia and have a child in USA, your child and grandchildren will identify themselves as being from USA not necessarily from Columbia. I think this is the case of Dominicans, yes we are of African descend but so are we Native Tainos, Spaniard and to some extend French. I think we identify and show that we are a mixed population. I believe we are proud of both our African and European traits. But I don’t quite understand the pressure others would place on certain populations to claim to be from a particular heritage.
    Racism is a worldwide problem, are Dominicans the only ones in denial of their African heritage?
    Here in America I don’t see much claim for truly being African decedent. Now, what I see here in America is classification of people. Something we don’t know about in Dominican Republic until we land in USA.
    In DR we are all seen as Dominicans despite your skin color, is there racism against darker people in DR? Yes there is, but what country doesn’t? In addition, even in countries where the majority of people or all are dark skinned, racism is found amongst themselves.

  • Rey

    Dr. Gates, again I congratulate you on a wonderful documentary. Just imagine the power and influence we would have as a people if we could just get past the issue of color.
    Message for Peter. For hundreds of years the indigenous peoples ruled the Caribbean. The most populated lands were the three main islands of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola (Santo Domingo/Hati) and Cuba. There has been and continues to be a great deal of work and renewed interest in the Taino culture, which has not received the attention it deserves. In the recent past Mitochondrial DNA testing was conducted in different areas of Puerto Rico. The results were pretty amazing. According to the study funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, 61 percent of all Puerto Ricans have Amerindian mitochondrial DNA, 27 percent have African and 12 percent Caucasian. In other words a majority of Puerto Ricans have Native Taino Blood. I truly believe that the results will be very similar if conducted in Cuba and Santo Domingo / Hati. We’re all truly Rainbow People!!!!

  • Anardo

    Dr Gate:

    Great job, for what I read here I see many have miss the point of mr Dr Gate intent, He illustrated the foundation of European white supremacy wich tenuously on a rickety base of lies and deceptions enslave until these days both side of the island wich is in reality Hayti, Futhermore he point to what many call the Michael Jackson complex where black and mulatos hate theirs color. As for The Arawak/Taino society was basically a very gentle culture, and where decendants of the The ancient Olmec civilization was a complex society that predated both the Mayans and the Aztecs. The Olmec whom where a black who where decendants of the Nubian kingdom.

  • Rey

    Dear Dr. Gates,
    It is quite evident that you struck a raw nerve with many Latinos. Please do not let this discourage you. Comments by Myra and many others are examples of the ignorance and denial that still exists in our Latino community. It is not a big deal what we may prefer to call ourselves, but it is a big deal when we ignore, deny and are never taught of the contributions of Los Africanos!!! Many of our great artists, poets, and political heroes are sons and daughters of Africa. Yet, we were never ever taught of their contributions unless we searched it out ourselves. Your documentary just provided the right platform. Please continue this important work. You have caused no damage but maybe embarrassed some by exposing the truth. Dios Lo Bendiga

  • Frank X Moya

    Dr. Gates,

    I enjoyed very much your series as the subject is one dear to my heart. It raises valid questions at issues passionately denied, swept under carpets, locked in back rooms and finally buried deep in un-ceremonial graves in spite of impertinent proof to the contrary. Like many Antillanos, I stand challenged when forced to define my own racial identity, let alone my cultural one – not out of shame or inferiority, but pridefully perplexed of the choices that run through my blood [Although, last time I checked, it still remains deeply red!]. Yet many here in the US are surprised of my cultural heritage as I look quite European, and more surprised when I mention my racial make-up.

    Quite frankly, I find the preoccupation with strict racial identity an exclusionary conceit betraying a tribal sense of fear and insecurity – typically one meant to seek solace by defining and denigrating “the other”, claiming a divinely ordained burden of superior stewardship and providence. Nevertheless, understanding and truthfully accepting our racial and cultural make-up provides the next step of our evolution.

    Born in Puerto Rico from a family rich in full racial tonalities, my upbringing reflects a wide cultural heritage manifested through a Dominican paternal grandfather [a revolutionary of noted descent, who died back in 1915] married in exile to a Puerto Rican woman with the appellative of “Moreno” [who then settled in NYC later in 1918] to maternal grandparents long in PR by way from the Canary Islands and finally a Corsican step-father [another history professor] with deep family roots in the Island as well. In my youth, I had the privileged opportunity to travel widely between Haití, the Dominican Republic and of course Puerto Rico and the States. For obvious reasons I missed my chance to go to Cuba, so I vicariously enjoyed yours. I also witnessed the anguish of the Duvalier and Trujillo/Balaguer regimes [and their very active suppression apparatus abroad] as well as the broken hopes and interruptions of subsequent democratic administrations. All of which may help to shed some light to that “raw nerve” which afflicts our present cultures:

    1- The Arawak [Taino] name for the island of La Española is Ayití, hence the name Haití. Cuba is Cuba and PR is Borikén [sp?]. “Quisqueya” has been found to be a Dominican construct to claim a separate indigenous heritage. No such word has been recorded historically as part of the Arawak language or from the present societies that still exist in South America. DNA evidence speaks for itself – it is pervasive, testament to the lonely conquistadors. But culturally, not enough to pass for a Native-American tribe.

    2- European Latin societies where historically more concerned with weeding out Moorish and Jewish blood – that was the founding basis of the Inquisition. Racial miscegenation was neither discouraged nor condemned.

    3- Among the great crimes of the Trujillo regime one has to include the cultural genocide of historical revisionism inflicted during the 30-year “Era de Trujillo” and the later “12 Años”. After two generations, the stain of propaganda is almost indelible. Dominicans have until recent being able to fully explore their rich culture and re-discover the real history struck out in blank pages by the regime. Accomplice to this regretful practice was the indoctrination of a racial mythology devoid of the obvious African traces.

    4- I am sorry you missed one of the English-speaking towns in the DR. Spanish colonial law encouraged escaped slaves from English colonies to settle as free-men under Spanish rule. Many of these Cimarrones were ardent defenders of their freedom. In Puerto Rico these former English slaves, armed only with machetes and spikes, defeated a massive British invasion at the end of the 18th c.

    5- One cannot deny the unspoken influence of the American view on race and its effects in the Caribbean. All three major Antillean islands have been occupied by the US – even to this day. The 19th c. Dominican Republic’s bid for statehood failed ratification in the US Senate on account of Washington’s perception of this being a mulatto society. A lesson later rectified during the acquisition of Puerto Rico by portraying the island’s society essentially as a Criolla one [whites with tans - see archival movies on-line as well as period literature].

    6- The posthumous “blanching” and rhinoplasty epidemic of notable figures afflicted a vast monumental legacy of many notable cities in Cuba, Santo Domingo and Puerto Rico. My own grandfather’s textbook photo during the Ciudad Trujillo days shows a sternly Teutonic profile on the poor fellow’s otherwise jovial rounded composure evidenced in recently released pictures.

    7- Surprisingly, a majority of Puerto Ricans in the island categorized themselves in the census as “white”!!! In PR, race is an extremely nuanced, complicated issue not helped in the least by American norms. Partially the result of the historical pollination of the Island’s traditional Hispanic view, which allow for generational blanching to accommodate established wealth and influence, with the absolute race notions of the new Anglo-Saxon overseers, UPR anthropologist Jorge Duany has identified quite an extensive racial scale based on every-day terminology used to avoid any degree of “black”.

    8- In spite of anyone’s insistence to the contrary, the very defining nature of Caribbean culture is our African heritage. It is the essence of what distinguishes us from the rest of Latin America. We may share the continents’ Franco-Iberian heritage and faith – that which defines us as Latins – but it is out of the strain of slavery [for both masters and slaves] that shaped who we are physically and psychologically.

    I leave you with a poem that best helps describe us:

    “Vejigante de muchos colores,
    Antillana es tu alma,
    La que madre África llama
    En matices criollos
    Y otros olores…”

  • Frank X Moya

    Dr. Gates,

    I enjoyed very much your series as the subject is one dear to my heart. It raises valid questions at issues passionately denied, swept under carpets, locked in back rooms and finally buried deep in un-ceremonial graves in spite of impertinent proof to the contrary. Like many Antillanos, I stand challenged when forced to define my own racial identity, let alone my cultural one – not out of shame or inferiority, but pridefully perplexed of the choices that run through my blood [Although, last time I checked, it still remains deeply red!]. Yet many here in the US are surprised of my cultural heritage as I look quite European, and more surprised when I mention my racial make-up.

    Quite frankly, I find the preoccupation with strict racial identity an exclusionary conceit betraying a tribal sense of fear and insecurity – typically one meant to seek solace by defining and denigrating “the other”, claiming a divinely ordained burden of superior stewardship and providence. Nevertheless, understanding and truthfully accepting our racial and cultural make-up provides the next step of our evolution.

    Born in Puerto Rico from a family rich in full racial tonalities, my upbringing reflects a wide cultural heritage manifested through a Dominican paternal grandfather [a revolutionary of noted descent, who died back in 1915] married in exile to a Puerto Rican woman with the appellative of “Moreno” [who then settled in NYC later in 1918] to maternal grandparents long in PR by way from the Canary Islands and finally a Corsican step-father [another history professor] with deep family roots in the Island as well. In my youth, I had the privileged opportunity to travel widely between Haití, the Dominican Republic and of course Puerto Rico and the States. For obvious reasons I missed my chance to go to Cuba, so I vicariously enjoyed yours. I also witnessed the anguish of the Duvalier and Trujillo/Balaguer regimes [and their very active suppression apparatus abroad] as well as the broken hopes and interruptions of subsequent democratic administrations. All of which may help to shed some light to that “raw nerve” which afflicts our present cultures:

    1- The Arawak [Taino] name for the island of La Española is Ayití, hence the name Haití. Cuba is Cuba and PR is Borikén [sp?]. “Quisqueya” has been found to be a Dominican construct to claim a separate indigenous heritage. No such word has been recorded historically as part of the Arawak language or from the present societies that still exist in South America. DNA evidence speaks for itself – it is pervasive, testament to the lonely conquistadors. But culturally, not enough to pass for a Native-American tribe.

    2- European Latin societies where historically more concerned with weeding out Moorish and Jewish blood – that was the founding basis of the Inquisition. Racial miscegenation was neither discouraged nor condemned.

    3- Among the great crimes of the Trujillo regime one has to include the cultural genocide of historical revisionism inflicted during the 30-year “Era de Trujillo” and the later “12 Años”. After two generations, the stain of propaganda is almost indelible. Dominicans have until recent being able to fully explore their rich culture and re-discover the real history struck out in blank pages by the regime. Accomplice to this regretful practice was the indoctrination of a racial mythology devoid of the obvious African traces.

    4- I am sorry you missed one of the English-speaking towns in the DR. Spanish colonial law encouraged escaped slaves from English colonies to settle as free-men under Spanish rule. Many of these Cimarrones were ardent defenders of their freedom. In Puerto Rico these former English slaves, armed only with machetes and spikes, defeated a massive British invasion at the end of the 18th c.

    5- One cannot deny the unspoken influence of the American view on race and its effects in the Caribbean. All three major Antillean islands have been occupied by the US – even to this day. The 19th c. Dominican Republic’s bid for statehood failed ratification in the US Senate on account of Washington’s perception as this being a mulatto society. A lesson later rectified during the acquisition of Puerto Rico by portraying the island’s society essentially as a Criolla one [whites with tans - see archival movies on-line as well as period literature].

    6- The posthumous “blanching” and rhinoplasty epidemic of notable figures afflicted a vast monumental legacy of many notable cities in Cuba, Santo Domingo and Puerto Rico. My own grandfather’s textbook photo during the Ciudad Trujillo days shows a sternly Teutonic profile on the poor fellow’s otherwise jovial rounded composure evidenced in recently released pictures.

    7- Surprisingly, a majority of Puerto Ricans in the island categorized themselves in the census as “white”!!! In PR, race is an extremely nuanced, complicated issue not helped in the least by American norms. Partially the result of the historical pollination of the Island’s traditional Hispanic view, which allow for generational blanching to accommodate established wealth and influence, with the absolute race notions of the new Anglo-Saxon overseers, UPR anthropologist Jorge Duany has identified quite an extensive racial scale based on every-day terminology used to avoid any degree of “black”.

    8- In spite of anyone’s insistence to the contrary, the very defining nature of Caribbean culture is our African heritage. It is the essence of what distinguishes us from the rest of Latin America. We may share the continents’ Franco-Iberian heritage and faith – that which defines us as Latins – but it is out of the strain of slavery [for both masters and slaves] that shaped who we are physically and psychologically.

    I leave you with a poem that best helps describe us:

    “Vejigante de muchos colores,
    Antillana es tu alma,
    La que madre África llama
    En matices criollos
    Y otros olores…”

  • Jose

    Dr. Gates documentary demonstrates pure ignorance for a culture he does not understand. It really does not matter to me how many “Harvard” degrees he has or how much research he had done. The only people that know what it is to be Dominican are Dominicans themselves. As I have told many people in the world, Dominicans have some of the most accepting cultures in the entire world. You can ask Blacks in Harlem, ask Jay-Z, ask Al Sharpton. The fact that we do not judge people by their skin color shows that we are very much ahead of the United States because in the U.S. people say they are either Black or White.Isn’t better to judge people by their character like Dr. King said?

    Secondly, notice his body language when he is in the Dominican Republic, it is very stiff and sort of disdainful. Then, when he is in Haiti he is very blissful. I believe this mere tactic is utilized to create some sort of confusion
    and distaste for our culture. Then, when he is in the museum with the hard working Dominican lady, he acknowledges one of the founding fathers as a “brother” and another as not a brother indirectly. What he is talking about here? Please people tell me if this is real?

    A Latino is a person this is of mixed races. We have Blacks, White, Arabs, and Taino’s mixed into one. We are Latino and that transcends whatever color one maybe. I understand people can say how can it? But believe me it simply does, and we Dominicans are together because of that. What he wants me to pick Black, White? Sorry, all that hate for other people is only going to lie within Dr.Gates.

    Oh, and he says we do not embrace our African heritage. Then just tell me what the “Palos” are Dr.Gates? You left that out didn’t you? The Palos is music that comes from Africa people. If he mentioned the PALOS then his documentary would have been destroyed.

    The fact remains that Dr. Gates views have evolved in an American country where Blacks ’til this day are continually persecuted unjustly. This is brought upon a government that enacts white privilege. There is absolutely no way that he can understand what it means to be Dominican. If one has traveled outside of their home, one knows that every country has their own way of thinking because of “culture”. Due to the U.S.’s not so clean history, the culture here has evolved to the point that people are not unified and do not identify each other as equal. In the Dominican Republic, people do treat each other the same no matter how different their skin tone is. How do I know? Well my family comes in all colors. Some are pretty light, some are darker. But God in heaven knows we do not see each other any different in the other for there is love.

    Moving along, do people notice that when Malcolm X traveled to Mecca he was shockingly surprised to see people of all color living civilly and happily as one without have to sick dogs on each other. Yes, my friends, people of all color bonded together by a “culture” that he could not have understood unless he left the U.S. Now, this is the same as the Dominican culture–you might have people with green or blue eyes, and others with brown or black hair, the point is that we all treat each other as the same. I believe this is what Dr. Gates does not understand.

    Lastly, I see this as a hidden agenda to create separation from each other. If one starts seeing the color difference in our countries, then people will not feel the unity anymore. And having that perspective where color does not matter is what makes the Latino and Dominican culture, one of the strongest cultures in the world. United we stand, divided we fall.

    It is such a great shame that a person with this much influence is coming into a country to divide people. But, we leave that up to God. Dominicans have one of the most accepting cultures in the entire world. Everywhere we go we make people laugh, smile, and jump for joy. We are hard working, honorable, and faithful. Just ask ya man , Jay Z, when in Empire State of Mind he shouts us out saying, “All of my Dominicanos right there up on Broadway”. Because Jay-Z grew up with Dominicans around he know that we are people of respect and courage, no Dr.Gates grew up as a preppy, snobby little boy in the Ivy League schools with no Dominicans around and absolutely no type of understanding of true culture as he was in an rich, affluent environment where the likes of only less than 1% of the world ever enjoys.

    Dominicans always be proud of who we are. Never let anyone taint our hearts, happiness, and cultures because of pure ignorance. We are people of great courage, humility, and compassion. I have been around the world and everywhere we go people love us and respect us. Always be proud of your culture Dominicans, because we can never forget the valuable lessons that our grandparents and parents have instilled in us. To a certain point, people almost, in a friendly way, envy our culture because everything we do we do with love. I have traveled extensively throughout the world and when I say I am Dominican people smile and love. So, Dr.Gates you can try to taint our image, but if people have not succeeded in doing so in hundreds of years, so will you. In my family I have people of all colors, and thank God my parents taught me to love people no matter what there skin color is because I do not know where I would be today. Dominicano hasta la tambora y no te quiile. Shouts to all Black people in in the world. And, most of all, shout out to all my Dominicans and Latinos! La perseverencia de Duarte, Mejia, y Sanchez siempre estara con nosotros. Thank God for our culture!

    Thanks Jessy Andres Torbicio and El gringo Cubano, who did not let this cowardly man try to taint our image. (Click find and type their names to read their comments)

  • david

    I love this documentary very educational. The title is “BLACK ( negro) IN LATIN AMERICA ” if people want to know about the TAINOS make a doc. about them dam get of his back

  • Sherly

    If you are doubting the truth about Dominicans rejecting their identity just read the comments of those asking about Tainos (hilarious). The indigenous people were all over the Island so haitians could say the same thing! PLEASE TAKE THE BLINDS OFF!

  • Torie

    In response to Ray

    Dr. Gates has opened up a can of worms and struck a raw nerve with many Latinos. I am black British form west African descendent and I see myself as being cultural British but my identity is black. I have watched almost all the episodes and and I am shocked, sadden and disappointed that so many people of African descent in Latin America do not consider themselves black or downplay their black ancestral heritage , however, they share the racial characteristics and phenotype of people from west Africa. It seems that they are ready to claim their white European and Indian heritage but bulk at claiming their black African heritage even though their west African heritage is clearly visible.

    And to those that claim that he did’t focus on the Indian influence, shame on you. The clue is in the title of the series ‘ Black in Latin America’. It does what it says on the tin.

    Great series Dr. Gates. It has really opened my eyes to the black experience in other parts of Latin America a part from Cuba and Brazil. Most of us know of the black experience in America, so this is wonderful to get the other side of the black experience.

  • luz


  • Smith Georges

    As a Haitian-Americann, I am really amazed by the way this documentary is put together with such an accuracy and the way it reflects and captures history and the essence of the reality of today Haiti’s and Dominican Republic – and how each side sees itself. One side admires its liberators and the other side its colonizers. One island, but two differents mentalites. Excellent job Prof. Gates! Wow!

  • Yahya

    For the record, Dr. Gates is now presenting a new series on PBS called “Finding Your Roots” where, on one episode, he conducted an autosomal dna test on the men in an inner city barbershop (mostly African-American males and one Dominican man was also present). Dr. Gates had them all GUESS how much of a percentage each of them had for different ethnicities (African, Indigenous Indian, European)…almost ALL of them got it WRONG when trying to guess how much Indigenous Indian dna they carry. Although the Dominican did have traces of Indigenous Indian dna…it was 8%.

    Now no one is saying that Dominicans should denounce their Indigenous heritage, neither should they denounce their Spanish heritage…just don’t totally ignore your African heritage either. It would even be more accurate to say that you’re multiracial or tri-racial if you must be exact. And don’t get upset with African-Americans for simply mentioning that one common denominator that connects us from ALL of the Americas & the Caribbean…that same African heritage. There should be absolutely nothing wrong with reaching out to our brothers and sisters of the African Diaspora with good intentions. Its rather absurd at how upset others get when we try to do that. It increases division amongst us. We can still have evolved into different cultures, languages, traditions, etc. but are still of some of the same ancestors.

    Also, yes…I must reiterate for those who are a bit perturbed at the fact that Dr. Gates did not delve deeper into the history of the Taino people (though they WERE mentioned quite briefly at the beginning). I would LOVE to learn more about ALL of the Indigenous groups that inhabited the Western Hemisphere before any of us…but that’s not what this documentary was supposed to be about. He named it “BLACK in Latin America” for a reason, people. Just wondering why or when is he going to do one for P.R. It would be great to see him go into the South Pacific realm as well, perhaps to even delve into Aborigine culture. All of this I hope to study and help bring to light one day just as Dr. Gates is doing. This knowledge is long overdue and needed. Once you’ve gained knowledge, it does no good to keep it for self. You must pass it along. Great job Professor!

  • Karina

    Dear Dr. Gates,
    Thank you for this much needed documentary about the politics of identity in Hispaniola. This is a complicated issue that exposes, in relations to identity, behaviors of denial, rejection, power struggle, and possessiveness, etc. I really don’t think you need to apologize for the “Guaguancó versus Merengue” issue some of the bloggers have created. I am particularly speaking about the insisting claim that the opening musical piece of the documentary is a “guaguancó”.

    To continue having an informed conversation about the documentary and everything discussed and showed in it, bloggers should substantiate their claims. I invite you, Dr. Gates, to listen to the Merengue from the Trujillo era (particularly from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s). You will hear a great similarity between the sound of the Merengue produced then and the merengue played at the beginning of the documentary. For those who may be interested, Youtube is a great way to quickly compare different kinds of music and dancing genre… Having said that, it is perhaps also important to add that many of the dancers in the documentary (particularly those of an older generation) are dancing to the ‘introductory Merengue’ with steps from the Cuban ‘Son’. The ‘Son’ is the main Cuban dance/musical genre that Dominicans have embraced as their own perhaps because the its movements and the close proximity of the dancers are similar to that required in Merengue dancing.

    I really think we should all keep in mind that hybridity in the Caribbean is a powerful force that alters everything in its path… Guaguancó, Merengue or Son.

  • Hawk

    All Descendants of Africa in the Western Hemisphere need to wake up. The only difference in us is where the Boat landed. Folks need to get real. Thanks!

  • Hawk

    Just a thought if so many Dominicans don’t think they are black then why did Jheri Curl products sell so well in the Country back in the 80s. Go back and pull up most of the Domincan baseball players of that era. They all had the drippy curl. But anyway! Just a thought not trying to be disrespectful. But the identity issue isn’t just exclusive to them. I will never forget a discussion I had with a Puerto Rican woman at my job back in the 90s when I was in College. She had a poster of famous latinos and many of the people were black. Another guy was trying to be funny and said to her why you don’t have any Brothers on your wall (ie. Do The Right Thing). Myself being an educated Brother who knew history was aware of many of the people on the poster. Some played in the Negro Leagues and one even danced with Alvin Ailey. So I told the guy hey Man I say alot of black people on the poster. This woman who we thought was cool jumped out of her seat and said to me “They are not black they are my people”. I just stared at her in shock. It was my first introduction into the diseased mindedness of the Latino Culture. I was in total shock and thinking back I should have told her that in no way could she tell me as a black person who is and isn’t my Brother or Sister. But again I was young and honestly in shock. I never said another thing to that Woman. Fast forward to today I have a job that requires me to see fingerprint cards. Today, its not even about being Latino anymore you have people from Puerto Rico, D.R., Panama and other latin countries who are now saying they are white on their fingerprint cards. I often see their pictures. I will say that not a single one of them has been white. In fact, I just saw an obviously black guy from Panama list himself as white. Its the craziest thing I have ever seen. It gets worse I know a young lady who’s father was Puerto Rican and Mother is Black. She totally denies her black heritage but is married to a black man and feels the need to let everyone know that she is not black despite her obvious black appearance. In fact, she goes out of her way to talk down on black people. But the sad thing she doesn’t realize is that in dissing us all she is doing is dissing herself. Like Paul Mooney recently said, “What we should be most proud of too often we are ashamed of.” I pray for the day that all the descendants of Africa can be proud of who and what they are.

  • scarlet

    I was surprised to see a documentary on Dominican Republic and Haiti done by Dr. Gates. I gotta say i find that the documentary was informative, but one sided. Dr. Gates did a limited amount of research on the Dominican Republic and did a lot more on Haiti. We as Dominicans know that we are mixed, and accept it. There is no conspiracy theory to keep our “blackness” hidden from the public. He failed to mention why Dominican Republic revolted against Haitian rule. Dominicans are triracial, and even though Tainos were wiped out, their legacy lives in our blood, and is seen everyday in our language, food, and culture as is African and Spaniard culture. I feel like his documentary presented some kind of favoritism towards Haiti, and was actually putting down Dominican Republic in everything from culture to historical information( which some crucial facts were omitted) Dominicans are a mixture of every race, and i feel like Dr. Gates should of done more in depth research, such as he did for the Haitian part of the documentary. I personally would give this documentary a “C” because of lack of information, and a lot of one sided views from Dr. Gates… it was disappointing that the Dominican Republic was in a sense demonized, and viewed as a country that was ashamed of their roots, and deeply racist. It truly did not show the true beauty of this noble country full of wonderful and welcoming people.

  • Frederica Janes

    There’s something to be learned here, if taken with a grain of salt, but it came across as more of a travelogue for Americans than a genuine report on the ground. The video also seemed inappropriately self-referential on the part of the reporter. Why was it important to focus so much on him? There’s a moment when he’s immersed in conversation with one of his elite intelligentsia sources, when the camera focuses momentarily on a black domestic in a doorway. Gone. The instant is never followed up. Perhaps this is a hybrid genre for PBS, and I was expecting something different. But if you continue to work with this narrator, in this format, I would suggest that the narcissism of the academic world has no place in journalism, except on the other end of the camera.

  • Maluca

    I agree with many of you. Dr. Gates is a “come mierda”! Trying to snatch our roots from us! He’s obviously bias, and bitter. He probably has his own resentments about his culture or lack there of. Not once was mention of the Taino Indians in the beginning, which i feel is disrespectful. If ANYONE were to google the Dominican Republic one of the first words you will see is TAINO. In my opinion this was obviously done on purpose.YEs, many Dominican’s have an issue with acknowledging their African heritage, this is true and sad, but that doesnt mean one would purposely leave out an INTEGRAL part of our existence; the TAINOS. Dr. Gates is saying when Dominicans say “Indios”, we are trying to negate our African Ancestry , when in fact some of us do look “Indio” and some us are more “Africano” … etc I cant believe a man of his caliber and that of PBS would not FACT CHECK! I feel that I and we as a people are learning to embrace all of the many cultures that now makes us Dominican!!
    taino ti natiao

  • Maluca

    Dear Rey

    He struck a cord with many of us because of lack of information. This is poor journalism on his part. If he wanted to discuss the stigma many Dominicans have with their African Roots maybe he should have titled the as such. But if your are reporting on the History than one must incude ALL of the history ALL of the Facts.

  • Pablo

    This documentary is particularly one sided in regards to mentioning Hispaniola’s rich diversity. It is more rich then simply white Europeans and black Africans. I know the documentary only focuses on the “Black” aspect of the the island, but in doing so it just paints a very narrow view of the Dom.Rep in general.

    Also, it’s easy to paint the other side as the bad guys in this instance Dominicans, but Haitian’s have been brutal to their own people as well. You can’t keep blaming the Europeans or whites, Americans or Dominicans for the state they are in. What I am afraid of is that the Dominican Republic will cease to be and become Haiti in it’s economical and dire state, and before that happens I would rather Haiti lose it’s independence and become part of the Dominican Rep country. I know this sounds radical but what other options do they have? A government run by donations? How many more times must it collapse before someone takes control??

  • Lloyd

    I visited Dominican Republic a couple of times and experienced disgusting levels of Racism every time. I am a British third generation black male of west Indian descent so i look very much like Haitians. The thing that struck me so profoundly is that they all seem to have really colonized minds and still love the Spanish even though it is evident that Spanish still see them as little more than cheap slaves – I mean look at the state of the country – why would they think Spain cares about them when so many people live in shacks and the country clearly holds third world status.

    Anyway, I had people coming up to me on the beach asking if I wanted a massage and they didnt mind that I was black etc – hilarious really as they clearly had no money and couldn’t see past their racism enough to make money…which I actually think is one of the reasons the country will remain broken – they cling to their colonial past as though it is something to be proud of.

    Have to admit I have little love for the place or it’s people despite the fact that there are probably some normal people there (I did meet one or two people that were nice to us but on the whole people seemed shocked and disgusted that two people that look like Hatians could afford to stay in a “top” hotel).

    As for people on here calling Spain the motherland – why don’t you go over there and see how much they mother you.

  • Eduardo Gonzalez

    There is a clear distinction with the arguments being placed by all sides. First & foremost the facts are that the French & Spanish colonised the island. The island did have native people living on it. They both brought slaves from Africa. They both killed, raped & brutalised the natives & Africans. The Africans rebelled against the French & the Spanish. This led to a free island. The Africans wanted to make sure that those that enslaved ALL did not return to power. The French put sanctions upon Haiti/Hispaniola for their deemed loss for not being able to exploit the people & the land. It is quite clear that there is more mixing in DR than in Haiti by the skin tones of the people. What is also clear to most EDUCATED people is that through research it has been proven that the first race on Earth were people who were of African appearance. This means that at the beginning of time ALL people around the world would have looked pretty much the same. If Black became a power dynamic in future history like it once was, then this divided opinion would again change. The majority of negativity towards Blacks is generated by the White power dynamic. So?, tell me?. If I had a tub of dark brown paint & I mixed it with a tub of white paint what paint would I have?. I would end up with beige, which is a shade of brown. Brown being the dominant colour takes precedence. FACT. The dominant takes precedent over the recessive & the same applies to genes. Curly Afro hair is exclusive to those who have African blood. That means that the dominant gene pool for the DR is African. This basically means that whilst DR people have mixed blood, the dominant gene in them is AFRICAN. Whilst some later immigrants to DR did not mix, i.e. Spanish, Jewish, German etc, the vast majority are & do have Black features & Black genes. This does not negate their native genealogy but merely points out what is the DOMINANT gene flowing through the blood of DR people. Those who wish to remain ignorant do so because of the White power dynamic. They are quickly brought crashing back down to Earth when they travel to the US, Canada, Europe or white western countries only to be looked at as what by genealogy you are which is of African descent, by the majority of your features & make up. A fool sometimes doesn’t want to be EDUCATED. Fine. Leave the fool where you find him or her. If however you want to be educated, then EDUCATE yourself. You cannot make 2 plus 2= 3 just because you do not like the number 4. This is sheer IGNORANCE. To all Dominicans, please LEARN about dominant & recessive genes. This will give you a MASSIVE help in getting over the ignorance ENFORCED by the white man onto you to stop you from siding with Haitians whom you have PLENTY in common with. PEACE ALL HISPANIOLA PEOPLE!.

  • Ron Hustleman Harris

    Wow….facinating and sad.Wherever they bring the Bible….self hate follows.

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