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Preview: Black in Latin America

Black in Latin America is the third of a trilogy that began in 1999 with the broadcast of Professor Gates’s first series for public television, Wonders of the African World, an exploration of the relationship between Africa and the New World, a story he continued in 2004 with America Beyond the Color Line, a report on the lives of modern-day African Americans. Black In Latin America, premiering nationally Tuesdays April 19, 26 and May 3, 10, 2011 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings), examines how Africa and Europe came together to create the rich cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean. Watch preview:

  • terrance

    The Afro latino people must remember they are African first I don’t care how mixed the countinent is and everyone is one people that’s a lie,when you are black you will always be sticking out in any society as a outcast.

  • Natasha

    …I am so called, Black in the U.S., interesting, as I travel abroad, I am referred to as American, not African American, only the United States keeps this ridiculous “color line” a problem in the new century!

  • Dianca

    Thank you Dr. Gates and your team! I am elated that you have given Afro-Americans a chance to learn that, yes, Latinos with black skin are black-like us they are people whose ancestors originated in Africa! Also, I hope this is a chance for Afro-Latinos who are not ready to acknowledge African blood to learn that black, regardless of your nationality, is beautiful! We can be proud of our country while celebrating our African forefathers (and mothers). I am excited about this series and look forward to future documentaries regarding the varied cultures and experiences of descendants of the African diaspora.

    Bravo!

  • PTB

    Already got the DVR queue’d for this one!

    Haven’t heard this much buzz since “Platanos & Collard Greens” came out.

    I find it interesting no one dared touch this subject before and thought it not worth speaking
    about – especially many Latino’s of African descent. Now HLG starts it up, and folks
    are complaining that they’ve been excluded.

    I do hope this brings up further dialog between Blacks – at least those in the western hemisphere.

  • Tony

    Just for the record; A genetic study was done in Puerto Rico. the results were that Puerto Ricans were overwhelmingly Amerindian on their maternal DNA and Overwhelmingly European on their paternal DNA. the rest was African. In general Puerto Ricans are 45% Amerindian (indegenous), 40 % European and 15 % African. Theses are facts. The reason I post this is because Dr Gates is trying to promote Latin America as predominately
    African and European which is inaccurate. Most Latin American Countries are predominately Amerindian and European with some African. The main Ingredient in Latin America are the indigenous people the Aztecs, Incas, Tainos and many more. This is not to discredit the African presence in Latin American but the one drop rule doesn’t count. if you want to reply you can raech me at Jav3e2000@yahoo.com

  • Daniel Ponce

    It is about time a piece on the African influence in Latin America was done. I will never forget how shocked I was when I moved to the mainland from Puerto Rico and discovered how ludicrously ignorant the majority of self-described “Latinos” are to the ethnic and racial diversity of Latin America.

    Sadly, due to continued racism I would bet a month’s salary that none of the major Spanish-speaking networks will ever air the documentary.

  • Fritz

    This is a totally beautiful piece, however from the comments that I have read this should only be the beginning of a long and numerous series. By the way, I am Haitian although I am 100% of african blood it is not necessary to add the african prefix to your nationality. You know this land belonged to the many tribes of indians who were the true owners of this land and space, and I have never heard of any european-americans then why should we consider adding any prefix.
    It may be important to draw a comparison among the population of the whole american continent and see who have what as far as how the distribution is done.
    By the way there need to be a redefinition of the term african-american which is really meaningless, being american means that you are of the continent of america and that america is not a country. It seems like a small portion of the continent considered himself being the owner of the whole continent, which is errorneous.

  • Judith

    It’s commendable to address the black influence in latin america. In relationship to Santo domingo, the music played as merengue, was in fact an erroroneous reference. It was guaganco. I hope you address this critical point.

  • Elissa

    This sounds so enlightening! Having worked with a Colombian dance company I am very excited to see it and better educate myself. Will there be a version in Spanish, and will the program eventually be available for viewing online?

  • Renee

    I missed the whole program and only came in to see the closing of the show. I hope this will re-air some time because I do feel like I missed some valuable information.

  • Jhoannette

    Talking about Merengue while cuban son is in the background? really? Anyways, I’m dominican and I felt very identified whith the things that were pointed. That constant denial we dominicans have towards our african roots is very distintive of our identity. I couldn’t help feeling disappointed by facing the sometimes ingenue ignorance of my people. Thanks for this amazing documentary, with some holes but still very informative and on point. Oh, and Gabrie’l, I’m 18 now and I hope to writte like you when i grow up men.

  • Ousseau

    Thank you Professor Gates for this historic documentary. I am a Haitian Visual Artist base in Harlem New York. I just watch the program with my 90 years old father. My family are very proud of our African heritage and glad that the world had the chance to learn even 10% of our proud history that was covered in the program. Its a start.

    Haiti, is here to stay – no matter what is place in front of us.

  • George

    I am dissapointed that you do not have Colombia, as the 3rd nation with the largest black population
    in the Western Hemisphere. 1st is Brazil 2nd USA 3rd Colombia. You talk about Haiti, Cuba Peru & Mexico in the series, but you do not mention Colombia. There are about 10.5 Million Colombians with African roots, making it the 3rd country country with the largest Afro latino population. Available estimates range from 4.4 to 10.5 million Afro-Colombians.[3] Afro-Colombians make up approximately 21% (9,154,537) of the population according to a projection of the National Administration Department of Statistics (DANE)[4], most of whom are concentrated on the northwest Caribbean coast and the Pacific coast in such departments as Chocó, although considerable numbers are also in Cali, Cartagena, and Barranquilla. Colombia is considered to have the third largest Black/African-descent population in the western hemisphere, following Brazil and the USA. The African presence in Colombia dates back to the 8th century. In the 8th century, nearly all of the Iberian Peninsula was conquered by largely Moorish Muslim armies from North Africa.African slaves began being imported by the Spaniards in the first decade of the 16th century. By the 1520s, Africans were being imported into Colombia steadily to replace the rapidly declining native American population. Africans were forced to work in gold mines, on sugar cane plantations, cattle ranches, and large haciendas. African labor was essential in all the regions of Colombia, even until modern times. African workers pioneered the extracting of alluvial gold deposits and the growing of sugar cane in the areas that correspond to the modern day departments of Chocó, Antioquia, Cauca, Valle del Cauca, and Nariño in western Colombia. . In pre-abolition Colombian society, many Afro-Colombian slaves fought for their freedom as soon as they arrived in Colombia. It is clear that there were strong free Black African towns called palenques, where Africans could live as cimarrones, that is, they who escaped from their oppressors.

  • Nilla

    I can’t wait to watch…being Nicaraguan. I am proud of having, Indian (Native of American) and African blood and whatever else ….But I know one thing I am very proud. Becase us LATINOS have such ritch cultures that for some reason we grow up with a stigma of not being good enough …..when we should love and be proud!!

    And we are not SPANISH or HISPANIC …..look it up it was during the Nixon Administration !

  • AM Moni

    Thank you Prof Gates for this documentary – I know that many people in the US do not know that there are black people in Latin America – Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and the list goes on. Also there are many non-Spanish speaking countries in South America, Central America and the Caribbean with significant black populations as well. I believe this ignorance also comes from Latin America itself. Where are Afro-Latinos in poitics, business, telenovellas??? Sure I see them during the World Cup, but I believe that many people don’t know they exist because they are second class citizens, even if they don’t consider themselves black the way US blacks self-identify. I’m from the English-speaking Caribbean, and would have loved to see Jamaica or Trinidad there, simply because the issues of color such as the ones noted in the DR segment are very much an issue – perhaps another time. Eagerly looking forward to the rest, particularly Cuba and Brazil.

    On a final note, I take offence to the sweeping of Haiti into a title that only mentions ‘Latin America’. Haiti isn’t Latin, perhaps a more apt title would have included Latin America and the Caribbean.

  • AM Moni

    Thank you Prof Gates for this documentary – I know that many people in the US do not know that there are black people in Latin America – Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and the list goes on. Also there are many non-Spanish speaking countries in South America, Central America and the Caribbean with significant black populations as well. I believe this ignorance also comes from Latin America itself. I occasionally pass the remote to Telemundo, Univision etc – where are they? Where are Afro-Latinos in poitics, business, telenovellas??? Sure I see them during the World Cup, but I believe that many people don’t know they exist because they are second class citizens, even if they don’t consider themselves black the way US blacks self-identify. I’m from the English-speaking Caribbean, and would have loved to see Jamaica or Trinidad there, simply because the issues of color such as the ones noted in the DR segment are very much an issue – perhaps another time. Eagerly looking forward to the rest, particularly Cuba and Brazil.

    On a final note, I take offence to the sweeping of Haiti into a title that only mentions ‘Latin America’. Haiti isn’t Latin, perhaps a more apt title would have included Latin America and the Caribbean.

  • Jesskah

    As a Panamanian-American, whenever I meet people who discover my nationality (I look white and nothing more), they usually say “Oh! I once met a Panamanian, but you’d never know it because he was Black.” I don’t say anything so I don’t hurt their feelings by correcting them, but Black Panamanians are as abundant as in most other Latin American countries.

  • Keith

    This looks great but one problem I have is the act at the end it appeared to celebrate the genocidal attitude of the Hatians towards the French during colonial times. Other than that I was very fascinated with the many cultural contributions of the African peoples to Latin America. I was particularly interested in Capoeta.

  • Jessy Trouillot

    i just watched the special “black in latin america”Thank you pbs for showing it and Dr gates as a proud haitian
    tonight you brought tears to my eyes.Yes we are poor, yes we are living in tent with no sanitation but we are a nation that is proud to be black,with a lot of human ressources,with a very riche history and we will overcome one day

  • John Torres

    Thank you from an Afro Bori-Cubano
    Born of Black Cuban and Puerto Rican parents.

    We Afro-Latinos are a unique people. Creative and colorful. Please keep telling our story.

  • angie

    This is what a lot of people were waiting for because there is a lot of discrimination in Latin American because of ignorance about not to want to understand that we are the result of a big mix in which Africans took the most racial part of all of us…. I am from the Dominican Republic and i want to say Thank you very much PBS and Prof. Gates for this great and very informative documental.

  • Bryant

    I watch Black in Latin Amercan tonight with some friends, I really did found what Gates was telling us viewer about the history production of life was really amazing, I really did not know any of the detail fact about Latin American before like I learn tonight, I hate to think that I just would not have paid attention to the facts on my own if my teacher Ms. lee at SOF have not asked us, her student to watch this program. I am happy that I got a chance to watch this program tonight and look forward to reviewing Black in Latin Amercan again.

    Bryant
    SOF

  • Arnaldo Casillas

    I am not only extremely pleased, but also extremely honored that this documentary, at last, was produced to be shown to the masses, primarily to those residing in the United States — it was long overdue. Moreover, I am sure that such documentary will diffuse vital information about Latin America’s preponderant black, African heritage to both black and white citizens in the States who do not have a clear view of said heritage yet; principally, dealing with misconceived Latino racial related stereotypes. Although I look Caucasian, I consider myself being a multiracial individual from Puerto Rico, U. S.’ s only Spanish-speaking territory, colony.

    Having mentioned the latter, I am somewhat disappointed — perhaps in utter awe — that Puerto Rico was not even mentioned, except for few comments made by a Mexican lady regarding one of the Island’s traditional dishes (fufú) being similar to theirs, as part of PBS’s presentation where the African heritage has played a significant role in the island’s culture, identity as well. As a matter of fact, along with Antonio Maceo and José Martí, there was a black Puerto Rican, Arturo A. Schomberg, of African and German ancestry, who was instrumental in the War of Independence of the 1890s against Spain and a political luminary of his time while living in Harlem, NYC. Further, he made the latter borough his home (until his ultimate death) and embarked on a long time struggle advocating for not only Civil Rights, but also the betterment of the Latino (mainly Puerto Ricans and Cubans at the time) and Black communities. By the way, his extensive historical collection of black heritage amassed so much factual information that the City turned it into the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Perhaps the reason being for not mentioning Puerto Rico is the fact that by not being a sovereign nation, like the others portrayed in the documentary, belonging to the USA, it was not even considered.

    In closing, even with Puerto Rico’s — by the way, and Panama’s — omission in the documentary, it was an extraordinary piece of historical and factual information. Wish everyone the very BEST.

    With highest regards,

    Arnaldo Casillas-Berberena
    Originally from Carolina, Puerto Rico (currently residing in Rockville, MD)

    P. S. This is the link to Arturo Schomburg’s biography:

    http://www.africawithin.com/schomburg/schomburg_bio2.htm

  • Jay

    This is an awesome program. Too many Americans think that “Latino” or “Hispanic” is a racial group or an ethnic group. It’s not. It’s only place of origin. The fact is many Latinos/Hispanics in the US are in fact Amerindians, many are black, many are white and even some are Asian. This programs shows that in the US we need to stop saying things like Hispanics/Latinos outnumber blacks. Because many of these folks as we see are black. This leads to question what is the real motive of the US Census to count the “Latino/Hispanic” population as a sub-group when there is no total population count of people from Anglo nations (of English speaking) regardless of race and lumped together as one group like we do the Latinos/Hispanics.

  • Carlos

    Black in Latin America Series (Musical ERROR Note)

    Hello Professor Gates,

    I saw your first episode Haiti / Dominican Republic. It was very informative, and I will watch all the up coming episodes. I don’t usually e-mail, but when you were interviewing the musician from Dominican Republic both of you were talking about Merengue, yet unfortunately the music they were playing was NOT Merengue it was the Cuban Son. Merengue is very fast pace and played with a Double Headed Drum and a Metal Guira (Scratching instrument) it’s timing is in 2/4. I was surprised that not you, but someone else didn’t catch this big musical mistake during the editing process. Merengue is played all over the Caribbean but it’s origin is Dominican. Just thought you should know so maybe this can be fixed before the DVD is released. After all it would make the most sense if an actual Merengue was playing while you are talking about Merengue.

    With Lots of Respect,
    Carlos

  • Mystic

    For everyone asking about the omission of Columbia, and other countries, read the Q&A with Gates: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/black-in-latin-america/featured/qa-with-professor-henry-louis-gates-jr/164/#comments

    “Q: For Black in Latin America you visited Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru. How did you choose to focus on these particular six countries?

    A: Well, we had to pick a country that reflected quite dramatically the history of the slave trade. So the largest countries with the biggest black populations are Brazil and Venezuela. So that was one category. We divided all the countries into categories. We only had four hours. We couldn’t do all the Caribbean and all of South America. We had to come up with criteria. So category one is size. Brazil’s the largest country in South America and it’s Portuguese-speaking, so that was interesting. Second, we wanted to do something representative from the Caribbean.”

    He only had 4 hours to work with, and he wanted to represent different areas. If he had 8 or 16 hours for the documentary, then sure he could’ve covered Columbia, Venezuela, Belize, and all the other countries. Had he spent time on Columbia, there would’ve been no time for the Caribbean or Central America, and the special would’ve been called “Blacks in SOUTH America”. But maybe the rest of us shouldn’t sit and wait; maybe someone else can take the baton from Prof. Gates and do our own individual documentaries on these countries! Don’t sit & complain, stand up & get active! :-)

  • Kent Taylor Hopkins

    I have been following the the extraordinary work of Dr Gates for a long time, and this documentary of blacks

    in latin america was very educational for me. I think every one should watch this historcal piece, as a matter of

    fact it should be included in our schools curriculum here in the U.S. Thanks again Dr gates I cant wait to see

    the rest of the four part series. It makes me more proud to be black after viewing this work.

  • Abraham Baker

    What about Belize? Everybody forgets Belize. A study of how Black Belizeans (namely English Creoles), Carib Indians (called Garifunas today), and Indo-Caribbeans (called Coolies within Belize) feel about heir “Blackness” can be bones for contention within Belize. Moreover, the groups have fought for socio-economic and political recognition within Belize against their fair-skin, Latin-Indian brethren such as the Mayans, Mestizos, and Kechies as well as mulattoes and white Europeans. The way the groups have interacted with each other throughout Belize’s history allows for very interesting observation, analysis, and qualitative data.

  • noordzee

    hey mr gates thank u for goin to latin america and do your story over there..
    i hope in the future u can go to my country suriname( or surinam) south america…..
    and i hope to hear from u
    thank u claudia

  • Renee B.

    Wow! What an eye opener, I sent this information to my daughter-in-law, who is part hispanic and german, she was amazed and informed as well.

    This is great information that needs a broader viewing.

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