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Q&A with Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

First, could you talk a little bit about this project?

I conceived of this as a trilogy of documentary series that would mimic the patterns of the triangle trade. There would be a series on Africa which was called Wonders of the African World in 1999. And then there would be a series on black America called America Behind the Color Line in 2004. And then the third part of the triangle trade was, of course, South America and the Caribbean. The triangle trade was Africa, South America, and the continental United States and Europe. That’s how I conceived of it. I’ve been thinking about it since before 1999. But the first two were easier to get funding for. Everyone knows about black people from Africa, everyone knows about the black American community. But surprisingly, and this is why the series is so important, not many people realize how “black” South America is. So of all the things I’ve done it was the most difficult to get funded and it is one of the most rewarding because it is so counter-intuitive, it’s so full of surprises. And I’m very excited about it.

And why do you think there is a lack of knowledge about the black populations in Latin America?

Well, incredibly, there were 11.2 million Africans that we can count who survived the Middle Passage and landed in the New World, and of that 11.2 million, only 450,000 came to the United States. That’s amazing. All the rest went south of Miami as it were. Brazil got almost 5 million Africans. In part, this reflects our ignorance as Americans who don’t know that much about the rest of the world. But also, it is in part the responsibility of the countries in South America themselves — each of which underwent a period of whitening. In the hundred year period between 1872 and 1975, Brazil received 5,435,735 immigrants from Europe and the Middle East and this was a conscious policy after 1850 to “whiten” Brazil which was such a black country. Brazil is the second blackest nation in the world. Brazil has the second largest black population — black being defined by people of African descent in the way that we would define them in this country. It’s second only to Nigeria. But no one knows this. So it’s those two reasons, that the countries themselves went through long periods of being embarrassed about how black they were and secondly, our own ignorance. That’s why this series is so important. It’s meant to educate Americans, and people in Europe and the rest of the world, but it’s also meant to educate people in South America, too. And in each of these countries there is a political campaign against racism, for affirmative action, and for their right to exist where they don’t as census categories. For example, in Mexico and Peru, they are fighting for the right to be identified as black. As in France, many people in these countries thought that if you put that social identity in the census that it reinforces racism. But doing that also prevents people from organizing around race when they are discriminated by race. It’s a paradox. And it’s fascinating to see what is similar and dissimilar in each of these countries.

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?

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.

Haiti just had the earthquake, it was very much in the news. Every night for months I would watch Anderson Cooper talking about the earthquake. But never did Anderson Cooper or anyone else talk about the history of Haiti. They’d talk about voodoo as if it was lunatic superstitions rather than one of the world’s old religions. Most journalists didn’t write anything sophisticated about the history of the revolution. And no one talked about the fact that it was at the western end of an island with another country, the Dominican Republic, and that the two of them had created their identities together and in opposition to each other. So it’s like Jacob and Esau, Yin and Yang. They’re both there on that island, separated by a river, and they’re very different countries. One is Spanish, Catholic and white, as it’s fond of saying. The other is African, black and voodoon. So we’re going to lead off the airing of the series with the Haiti & Dominican Republic program.

Cuba is a slam dunk. Everybody wants to know what’s going on in Cuba. And Fidel Castro, two years after he had his revolution in 1959, he announced that racism had been eliminated in Cuba. And Cuba got almost 800,000 slaves — far more than the United States. So there’s a fascination with Cuba: Our nearest neighbor. Miami’s twin city. How black is Cuba? Is there racism? Did the revolution, which brought health benefits and education to poor people, eliminate racism? That’s the question we ask. You can get the answer because the name of the episode is The Next Cuban Revolution.

And then finally Mexico and Peru. If Havana is the twin city of Miami, Mexico is our twin country. No one thinks of Mexico and Peru as black. But Mexico and Peru together got 700,000 Africans in the slave trade. The coast of Acapulco was a black city in the 1870s. And the Veracruz Coast on the gulf of Mexico and the Costa Chica, south of Acapulco are traditional black lands. Here’s the punchline, Barack Obama the first black president in the New World? No way. Vicente Guerrero in 1829. Mulatto, just like Barack Obama. First President of Mexico.

All these countries have curious things for this hidden history. The Dominican Republic says “We’re black behind the ears.” And in Mexico, “there’s a black grandma in the closet.” They know, they’ve just been intermarrying for a long time. But if we did the DNA of everyone in Mexico a whole lot of people would have a whole lot of black in them.

The series reveals how huge a role history can play in forming a nation’s concept of race. Although each of the countries you visited has its own distinct history, did you find any commonalities between the six countries with regard to race?

Yes, each country except for Haiti went through a period of whitening, when they wanted to obliterate or bury or blend in their black roots. Each then, had a period when they celebrated their cultural heritage but as part of a multi-cultural mix and in that multi-cultural mix, somehow the blackness got diluted, blended. So, Mexico, Brazil, they wanted their national culture to be “blackish” — really brown, a beautiful brown blend. And finally, I discovered that in each of these societies the people at the bottom are the darkest skinned with the most African features. In other words, the poverty in each of these countries has been socially constructed as black. The upper class in Brazil is virtually all white, a tiny group of black people in the upper-middle class. And that’s true in Peru, that’s true in the Dominican Republic. Haiti’s obviously an exception because it’s a country of mulatto and black people but there’s been a long tension between mulatto and black people in Haiti. So even Haiti has its racial problems.

In your opinion, if you visited other countries in Latin America you would see those commonalities coming out as well?

Yes. Again, these are representative. Typical. And I think that they typify the larger experience. I would hope we could get funding to do another series.

How do you feel the race experience differs between Latin American nations and the United States?

Whereas we have black and white or perhaps black, white, and mulatto as the three categories of race traditionally in America, Brazil has 136 kinds of blackness. Mexico, 16. Haiti, 98. Color categories are on steroids in Latin America. I find that fascinating. It’s very difficult for Americans, particularly African-Americans to understand or sympathize with. But these are very real categories. In America one drop of black ancestry makes you black. In Brazil, it’s almost as if one drop of white ancestry makes you white. Color and race are defined in strikingly different ways in each of these countries, more akin to each other than in the United States. We’re the only country to have the one-drop rule. The only one. And that’s because of the percentage of rape and sexual harassment of black women by white males during slavery and the white owners wanted to guarantee that the children of these liaisons were maintained as property.

And what’s amazing is that they can keep track. I’m thinking of the scene in Brazil where the group of men listed the different racial classifications that describe their skin color.

It’s like they had a color meter. “Oh this person is Caboclo.” I cracked up. That was a brilliant scene. I set that up, I told the crew just to follow me. And we walked through the market with me asking people what color I was and we had a lot of responses and then we picked the best one. But the best one was those guys when we put the hands in the circle. And then they all said “I’m Negro, I’m Negro” and then I said “No really, what are you?” And they go “I’m Cabocla, He’s Moreno.” It was great.

Could you discuss a few events during the making of the series that you found particularly powerful?

Well, there were many. Discovering that people in Latin America had been worshiping two black saints since the 1600s. That was astonishing. Discovering that the first Barack Obama in the New World was a Mexican, Vicente Guerrero. Learning that the Cuban Army of Independence was over 50 percent black and that two of its leaders were black generals including Antonio Maceo. But I think the most moving person I met was a Catholic Priest named Father Glyn Jemmott who works in the Costa Chica South of Acapulco on the Pacific in the blackest area of Mexico. He’s a Trinidadian. He’s been a parish priest there for 25 years. And he’s a black man. And his goal is to get people into Heaven. And to help them understand that they’re black and that’s a good thing. And he’s a humble man. He does it for the love of God and humanity. I found interacting with him a deeply spiritual experience.

Which of the countries do you most want to go back to visit and why?

I love them all. It’s like a mother and her children. I want to go back to each of them. But I was particularly fascinated by Cuba. Cuba is like going to a whole other planet. It’s so different but it’s so similar to the United States, to Miami. It’s like a doppelgänger. It’s the mirror image. And I have no doubt, that once Cuba becomes democratic, that it will be the favorite tourist destination for Americans. The people are all waiting for democracy and capitalism to come and I hope that that happens very soon. I mean I wish that Fidel Castro would wake up one day and decide he wants to be the George Washington of his country and institute one person one vote and open the country up.

  • Johane

    Thank you to Mr. Gates I will be watching. This is a subject dear to my heart and I cannot wait for open dialogue about it!

  • jan

    While this series is certainly commendable because it calls attention to the issue of race in Latin America, there are some distinct voids to a comprehensive coverage of the subject of race.

    There is another component to the race issue in Latin America that Dr. Gates did not address, and that is the native Indian population. Dr. Gates should also have shed light on the current two-tiered economy in Latin America because of discrimination toward the descendants of both the African slaves and the native Indians of Latin America. For example, if one travels to Brazil today, it doesn’t take long to determine that the majority of those who have access to property, jobs that pay well (e.g., private sector and government), and private education and healthcare are the descendants of the original European colonizers, as well as descendants of European and Asian expatriates who came to Brazil during the 1930s and 1940s.

    The descendants of African slaves and native Indians typically cannot make money in Brazil, unless it is through the avenues of sports or music. Yes, the descendants of African slaves and native Indians might go to the beach, sing, and dance with the descendants of the European colonizers and the expatriates, but they do not go to work with them. The descendants of African slaves and native Indians work in the beauty salons, serve as maids, sell chewing gum at traffic intersections, and work other menial jobs to make money. Why? They do not have access to the work that pays enough so they can leave the favelas. If they are able to go to school, they must attend the poorly funded public schools. If they need healthcare, they go to the poorly funded hospitals. However, those in the second-tier economy go to private schools and private hospitals.

    If one looks at Mexico, the situation doesn’t seem that dissimilar. Those who have achieved economically (outside of sports and music) and politically are typically the descendants of the European colonizers. Those who are risking life and limb to make money across the border to the north are typically the descendants of the native Indians and slaves.

    While a focus on history is certainly important, it would have been very insightful if Dr. Gates would have looked at the issue of race and current access to economic achievement in Latin America, as well as determine if anything is changing.

  • Frederick Douglass

    Can’t wait to see this documentrary (History Lesson). It will surely be an eye opener for those that have spererated themselves from the other color. Very interesting on how you chose and in what order you picked your topics. I will certainly inform friends, family as well as interested parties of the upcoming event.

    Continue … Write On, Right On.


  • Jean F Colin

    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.

    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 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.

    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 .
    Let us seize the moment!

  • Jude Vaillant

    Mr Gates.
    This the greatest piece that I ever read or see someone made about my lovely country, Haiti. As a Harvard professor and as also an african American you make me really proud of you, I have always been even though I have never met you personally, but I have been following you very closely all your interviews and pieces you wrote and your books are pretty well known to me. Your work and everything you do Mr Gates make everyone who has a chance to go through them to call you master and a tremendous intellectual. You take a great deal to go see for yourself what Haiti looks like and you did a mighty work. All I can wish is that one day that I can meet you face to face and have a little chart with you to tell you how great you are and possibly talk some more about Haiti.

  • Daniel Austin

    Do you know “The Griot” is an Haitian name and it was a school of thought during the period of the Romance in Haiti. Also Griot is a special Haitian food made from pig.

  • Javier

    Hey Henry Cuba is open nobody stops you from entering Cuba except the US treasury department.
    Yeah Cuban resorts will be favorite destinations just like DR. That is genius I am sure you did a lot of research on that! Cuba is beautiful because the lowest rung on the latter, the ones with the most African features, don’t get left out in poverty and dying of malnutrition and lack of healthcare access like they do in the US, Haiti, DR, and Peru. Just sayin’!

  • del

    next time you should visit Asia and talk about the black slaves in India and the blacks in the pacific islands

  • Stan W

    Jan, You make some very good points. But since the series hasn’t even aired yet, let’s wait and see what he has covered. No series can cover everything in depth that needs to be covered. At least it’s a start.

  • davina dauphine

    I am so enriched by your knowledge, researching, and passion for the historicity of people and of African descendant peoples. I would love to shake you hand for giving the public this while I know students pay thousands to become a scholar like you at Harvard. I really appreciate this. It makes me excited!!

  • Rafael

    For a Harvard professor, Mr. Gates ignores very simple facts. Latin America, like the US, did import millions of slaves from Africa. Millions of European immigrants, like in the US, arrived in succession in the centuries after slavery was abolished in those countries, as well as immigrants from the Middle East and Asia. These waves were oblivious to Mr. Gates’ obsession with race. They immigrated to new lands in Latin America for the same reasons the United States received millions of immigrants. Industrialization and expansion. They couldn’t have cared less for the “whitening” of any place; as our professor likes to think.

  • Mary Jane Perez Cornielle

    Regarding your comments on Cuba, I would like to say that when Dictator Furgencio Batista ruled Cuba, it was OK with the American Government. Could that have been because he condoned Gambling, Child-Prostitution, Heroin Trafficking, Segregation between Blacks & Whites, 98% illiteracy, and Corruption? I’ve known Cubans who have returned to Cuba. I have met many Cuban Doctors here in the USA, who told me that education is free, even for the Professions, such as Medicine, Engineering, et. al. Wow! I have known people to travel to Cuba for Medical Care, because their Doctors are “excellent”, medicine is not expensive, and medical care is affordable. The Cubans I’ve met here in the USA, are either White Cubans or Black Cubans, and the Whites told me they would not associate socially with Blacks.
    I doubt very much, when “Democracy” returns to Cuba, the Cubans that are pining to return, will stay there, unless Capitalism is strong, and the economic and social classes can be divided once again, like the good old days!
    No, I’m not a Communist, I am a SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT, and I LOVE THE USA!

  • Deez

    Sorry, the 3rd largest black Population is Colombia. Venezuela does not come close.

  • James Joiner

    I enjoyed reading the summary of your upcoming documentary and look forward to viewing it. Thanks for your hard work in order to continue to enhance our knowledge of the world. I am sure everyone will enjoy this important work.

  • Pablo (Zulu) Ferrer

    “Más de lo mismo ún documental rico en información” and no solutions, there are 10 millions Blacks in Colombia going through the roughest changes. Sir Doctor Henry Louis Gates is for sure – from an anthropological/ethnological optic – doing a good job at making The Talented 10th, look good in the XXI century.

  • Ivan

    Looking forward to viewing the series. I have read several publishings about the presence of persons of African descent in Latin America. I do have a full understanding and great appreciation for the criteria used in selecting countries to visit, It would have been REALLY interested to explore (and expose) the African connection to the history of Argentina, which is largely hidden or disregarded for some strange reason.

  • Ivan

    The largely hidden or disregarded African connection to the history and culture of Argentina is quite interesting. I hope that someone would expose this issue someday. While we know in terms of population, Argentina ranks near near the bottom of the list of countries in Latin America with a sizable population of black African ancestry. However, we know that once upon a time enslaved Africans were there in significant numbers, perhaps half of the population. It was reported that Argentina, in common with other Latin American territories, had undergone a ” whitening” of the population as well. Quite interesting.

  • Luis Diaz-Benitez

    Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.,

    While the documentary is of great importance, you failed to present the history of Blacks in Puerto Rico, where all of us are proud of our African roots. You would have seen a country that is diverse and presents its present roots as Native Tainos, Spaniard/European, and African. Our music, food, and cultural identity reflects them, but our African roots are dominant.

    I hope you receive funding for another series and that at that time you give the Puertorican culture a careful view and investigation of our history from the Black perspective.

    Luis Diaz-Benitez, B.S., MRC, D.D.


    i believe that he is starting whit this theme as part of his own experience and he ,as he mentioned , will try to get more funds to create similar documentary that adresses other ethnic groupes . so lets be patient and enjoy his first contrubiution to our society.

    just enjoy!

  • JDorvil

    I haven’t seen the show yet, but I anticipate it will be very interesting and seems like it will enlighten others on the diversity and complexity of being Afro-Latino. My only critic is on this Q & A section, regarding your statement that Voodoo is Haiti’s main religion. Haitians and Dominicans primary religion is Catholicism and both celebrate a secondary religion (i.e. Voodoo/ Santeria), which is practiced in some form all over Latin America and the Caribbean and are deep rooted in not only western African theologies but also eastern African beliefs. The idea that DR and Haiti are very different culturally also needs to be rectified. The differences are the superficial but have caused more strife, deep-rooted animosity and hatred for one’s brother and further study of each culture/history looking for similarities and analyzing l the findings critical lens will reveal this to be true. We have more in common with each other than anyone is willing to admit.

  • Jocee

    I live in California and I have long tried to open up conversation with my Latino, mainly Mexican co-workers about the Afro-Mexicans living along the coast in VeraCruz, and they ignore me, or try to make me feel that my knowledge of the Afro-Mexicans is made-up. Many, if not most Latinos in America are in denial of the African blood that runs through their bodies. Maybe they are ashamed, but they will have to acknowledge soon, because I am buying each of them a copy of this DVD.

  • ines

    para mi tanto d.r. como ahiti es la misma cosa.son solo un pais,pero se dividieron en 2.

  • Yvrose S. Gilles

    Professor Gates’ documentary opens the gate for an important discussion on African identity in the Caribbean and in Latin America. My one disappointment with the film is Professor Gates’ acceptance of the Dominican or white perspective on the history of Haiti/Hispaniola. Dominicans have asserted that Haiti was a belligerent nation that occupied them from 1822 to 1844. That simply isn’t true even though it is taught to both Haitians and Dominicans in schools. Spain abandoned its claim on “Hispaniola” (little Spain) in 1795 and gave the entire island to France in the Treaty of Basel. The leaders of the Haitian Revolution defeated France and claimed the independence of the entire island from European colonial rule in 1804. In 1844, remaining colonists on the eastern side of the island declared their independence from a choked and isolated Haiti. The truth of the matter is that Haiti has been a besieged nation from its birth fighting against all odds to retain its territorial integrity despite the unrelenting aggression of a racist world bent on erasing it.

  • V

    The documentary could only cover so much people. Stop saying what he “should” have covered because something is always going to be left out. Mr. Gares did mention he had limited time and funds to even get this off the ground. I am just excited that what will be presented tonight finally got off the ground. Trust me I know, and I believe Mr. Gates knows, that there is sooo much more that could have been covered. Here’s to hoping that he will be able to return and expand on this and possibly to other areas of the world where the African history, influence, heritage, etc. are prevalent in today’s society. This is going to be a good one.

  • brasil

    I was really excited about this program. As an adoptee from Brasil, I have always known about the Afro-Latino population and the importance of it. I am excited and hope this will bring more change within these countries who try to ignore the afro presence especially Brasil. It bothers me that most people think of Brasilian look like victorian models and how it’s such a racial harmony country. When in effect it is quite the opposite. I am nean the goverment won’t admit to the racial disparity in the country and it is a lie that has been really sold well worldwide. when people meet me they are shock to think of me as a Brasilian because of being black. thank you for bringing a important subject to life!!! Can’t wait…

  • E. Sanchez

    Mr. Gates vision is clearly partial and seemingly an attempt to draw a distinction between the “blacks” in South and Central American, and the Caribbean and the other folks who live among them, you know, ….the light skinned Latinos. But for someone who has never lived his childhood there, he has no inkling of the bonds held between most people who live in South, Central, North America, and the Caribbean, which include “blacks”, light skinned folks and everyone in between. If he truly understood “our” thing…..our RAZA, he would clearly see that regardless of the color of the people in Latin America….we are ALL Latinos!! We share a culture including music, religion, food and customs which date back hundreds of years. Just as in the U.S of course, there is racism but not on a level felt in the U.S. In Latin America….we are Latinos. We do not distinguish ourselves between being white, black, yellow, what have you. Ask yourselves if you have ever experienced that sort of unity in American among the blacks. I think not.
    I think what Mr. Gates is attempting to accomplish is division knowing full well that Latinos….and we are many colors, are now the largest minority in the United States and in order to remain relevant in the public debate, perhaps in his most vain assault he would like to introduce a topic so as to divide the Latino community among colors. You cannot speak to the history of blacks in South America without first including ALL Latinos of South America. This is not about color nor should it be. We are Latinos…We are La Raza.

  • Pablo(Zulu) Ferrer

    Tonight is the night I just hope that with this documentary Doctor Gates do not feel that “The Margaret Mead Award for Sacrifice, should be bestowed upon Him.” Mr. Luis Diaz -Benitez I was borned and have been Black in Puerto Rico for the past 64 years and I know for fact that I will die Black, it surprises me -beyond the limits of definition- the way you feel about being Black in Puerto Rico( La isla del encanto, donde con el eufemismo ” aquí el que notiene dinga tiene mandinga”… se pospone el tema de las relaciones raciales.)the island of the enchantment, where the euphemism “Here he who does not have dinga has mandinga” is used to postpone the subject of race relations.

  • Maria

    Puerto Rico should be included in this documentary.

  • Coa

    So typical of an American academic to ignore the indigenous roots of Latin America. If one were to read this interview without any knowledge of Latin American history, they’d be led to assume that most “brown-skinned” Mexicans are only that way because of African heritage – Nevermind that 90% of Mexican citizens have indigenous heritage, and 60% of them spoke an indigenous first language as late as the 19th Century.

    I watched the episode about the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and immediately we see Gates talking to a Dominican historian about the “indio” identity. The historian says that the Taino were driven extinct, to which Gates nods and interrupts with an arrogant, all-knowing, “uh huh”. No, the Taino were not driven extinct – Many Taino women intermarried with the single, male, Spanish conquistadors, while many other Tainos hid out in rural communities beyond the grasp of colonial census takers, where they absorbed runaway African slaves and left a tremendous impact on rural Dominican culture.

    There’s also this aggravating statement:

    “Whereas we have black and white or perhaps black, white, and mulatto as the three categories of race traditionally in America, Brazil has 136 kinds of blackness. Mexico, 16. Haiti, 98.”

    Brazil doesn’t have 136 categories of “blackness”, it has 136 categories of race in general – categories that include varying degrees of indigenous, Asian, and European heritages as well. Many Brazilians have indigenous ancestry as well, but yeah, to “America” (which is a ridiculous term to use when differentiating the United States from other Latin American countries, considering Latin Americans consider the entire hemisphere to be “America”), race is a binary spectrum of black to white. No one else exists. Maybe Gates should do a program in China where he can talk about how the Chinese are all mulattoes or something.

  • sandy

    Before retiring as a teacher, I would teach my students the history of the black migration to various parts of the world, especially to South America. It was interesting to me, because I look very Latin, but am Native American, African and European mixture, classified as Black in the U.S. Yet, many people that resembled me were Latin.
    If you put us together, you could not tell the difference. I am so glade you are exposing the rest of the world to the migration of Africans as freemen, explorers and slaves and their intermarriage with Natives and other races of the world. (The book “They Came Before Columbus”, explains alot also.)

  • Luis Lassen

    Mr. Gates-

    I am watching with lots of interest your program about Black in Latin America. This is subject close to my heart. I’d love to see you going to Loiza, Puerto Rico where there’s so much Black Puerto Rican people and its culture as well Limon in Costa Rica. I know you only had 4 hours but next time you must go to Medellin (colombia), Limon (costa rica) and Loiza (Puerto Rico).
    Other great topi could be how we are treated in 2011 in our countries, racism, the obstacles that black people experience in Latin America, black people in the media etc…anyway, I truly appreciate that you have taken this matter seriously….Thank you so much!

  • Martay

    I just watched the Haiti/Dominican Republic episode, and all I can say is EXCELLENT!!!! Thank you Prof Gates for setting the record straight and telling the ‘real history’. This series needs to be seen by anyone wanting to learn about the role and input and impact of Africans (Afro-Caribbeans) on the western hemisphere; not to mention what role the U.S. actually played in the history of these nations and their peoples!!!.

    I am thrilled that someone finally put forth a balanced, informative work on the ‘history’ so many are not provided with.

    Hopefully, this information will broaden our understanding and awareness. This program should be shown to students everywhere.

    Again, thanks to Prof. Gates for an outstanding project.

    I second Jocee’s comments… will be purchasing these DVDs and sharing them with friends!

  • Felix M.

    Mr. Gates Jr.
    I am from the Dominican Republic, I just watched the program, I found it to be very interesting and very informative, although I found it to be a bit hostile towards the Dominican culture, and I do have one question for Dr Gates Jr.
    Why would you suggest that the occupation of the Spanish speaking part of the island by Haitians was an unification not an occupation?
    Thank you

    Felix Marcano

  • Cristina

    I am very excited to see the next part in the series. The only other documentary of this kind that I have seen is “The Afro-Argentine Diaspora” @ BAM in NYC. Race is a controversial issue among Latinos and I feel it is a part of our culture and history that needs to be explored and shared with the rest of the world, particularly with the US, where most people are complete unaware of our diversity.

  • Jose

    Obviously Mr. Diaz-Benitez grew up in a different Puerto Rico than the one I grew up. The Puerto Rico I know is intrinsically racist and not embracing of its African roots at all. Puerto Ricans with African features were not seen on prime time news nor on television shows such as “novelas” until maybe twenty years ago. The Puerto Ricans I know had issues with any kind of curl in their hair and would do anything to make their hair straight. Curls and blackness were one and the same. Puerto Ricans until the early eighties, when beach sports such as surfing became popular, would usually stay out of the sun to keep their complexions light. Puerto Rico would never send a dark skin girl to a Miss Universe pageant. Puerto Ricans talked about marrying somebody with a lighter skin tone than yours as “improving the race”. Puerto Rico has always claimed its Spanish and Taino roots, never its African roots. Just listen to popular songs such as “Preciosa”. This song talks about our heritage coming from our “mother” Spain and our brave ancestors the Taino Indians. Puerto Ricans claim Spain as its “Madre Patria” or our mother country. A blond blue or green eyed baby such as myself, is considered a blessing. Believe me I heard it all my life. I could go on and on giving examples of how our beloved island always chooses to ignore its African roots. However, I will give Puerto Ricans one, we are probably the only people in the world who use the adjective “negrito” or little black one, as a term of endearment. If somebody from Puerto Rico calls you negro or negrito they are actually calling you “dear” or “deary”.

  • jose rosario

    thank you, Dr. Gates i learned so much from your hard work. I as a Puerto Rican man long for a man as yourself to highlight the contributions of the citizens of our island to our beloved U.S. thank you Dr Gates.

  • a. calixte

    As an African born of Haitian descent, I am a child of one of the talents that fled Haiti during the Papa Doc regime. My parents worked in the Congo, vacationed in Europe and finally settle in America in the mid 60’s to raise their children. For a time, my father believed we would return to Haiti when things got better. Alas, he passed away having never again seen the shores of his native land.
    I was watched anxiously while viewing your piece on PBS. Throughout my childhood I had heard the stories of the triumphs and atrocities of our history and the animosity between the neighboring cultures. I am acquainted with Dominicans here in the US and was baffled by the denial of their obvious afro heritage. When I would ask the elders in my family to explain why, they would just scoff and blame it on generation wide cultural ignorance. Your show gently clarified the issue. Thanks.
    I appreciate how you highlighted the historical timeline of events that affected my ancestry. As you showed footage of the American occupation, I couldn’t help but wonder if any of the natives featured were my grandparents. I cringed when I saw you dancing in the primitive religious ceremony. In our family, we were raised to think that those things were done by the illiterate and the poor, or so we thought. We were taught to understand that it’s these beliefs that do not uplift but instead oppress our cultures ambitions to grow to a level of self actualization. The proof is in the state of existence throughout the country even today.
    Even though I’ve never set foot “in the old country”, I believe in my people. We are a resilient proud people, as you witnessed for yourself Dr. Gates. We are survivors. I have to believe that with time, this too shall pass and we will eventually restore ourselves and rise again to be the “Pearl of the Antilles”.

  • Carmen Paloma

    I just finished watching the first installment of the series of Black In Latin America this evening. I found it to be very informative. Being a young girl growing up in mid-america for half of my childhood was a challenge, most people could not classify me racially. Having brown skin, curly brown hair and noticeably latina facial features people would ask me what are you? I would tell them that i am Black and Cubano. My mother a african american woman, and my father a cubano man…. or as my father calls himself a” Black Cubano”. My dad would tell me stories of growing up in Cuba and how he and family members experienced racism because of the caramel,brown and dark skin tones of most of our family suffered from growing up. It is so sad that slave mentality still has such a hold on our brothers & sisters in Latin America, I wish they could feel the pride and joy that i have found loving whom i am a proud “Black Woman”

  • Aisha White

    Thank you Professor Gates and PBS for such a rich, in-depth and well done exploration of Africana Latin America. Long overdue, informative, and a breath of fresh air.

  • jose

    I definitely find this is interesting because I was born in Mexico and it is a country were that is not likely recongized most people don’t even know that there was more slaves brought to Mexico than the U.S. also I don’t know if you might have seen the late night show with George Lopez in the first shows we would swab artists to find out what DNA separated between four races coming to find out he was 5% Sub-Saharan African which is black. I definitely what to see the Mexico episode because I can see a lot of traits and habits that so many black and hispanic have in common and I might be in our past.

  • Legrand

    Good program. Another insight to Haiti is their role in liberating South America. Alexandre Petion provided Simon Bolivar (on more than one occasion) arms and resources to help liberate South America. In addition, out of respect for Haiti’s role in these efforts countries like Ecuador, Colombia have the red and blue in their flags.

  • Shak

    I am extremely moved by this reflection of history & even current knowledge, for I have been taught to never take anyone elses word for it, but find out for myself. This series gave me confirmation on many points of African/Latin history & knowledge.

    Thank you Dr. Gates for I know that this took hard work & dedication, even dealing with all the criticism that you knew you would have to endure. This was brave of you. I am 35, born & raised in America & I am labeled as an African American, yet I struggle here in this country as many others do, because we have no real true identity of who we truly are or where we came from. Our schools teach us lies & very limited info about the different African & Hispanic cultures. I believe that many Americans are ignorant to true history of other cultures & even their own, those that do know do not talk about it, and it is EVERYONES LOSS. I am also a firm believer that if you do not know where you came from, you do not fully know who you are, & if you do not know who you are, then you have no clue where you are going or who you can become.

    Again, thank you, for this series has contributed to my journey of empowerment, and no matter what the haters say, you are helping to change peoples lives. I will be waiting on the next seires. It is written “My people parish for the lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).

  • Sofia Rodas

    I have watched your other series where you trace famous black persons ancestry to Africa and so wished that you would do the same with thier Latino or Hispanic counterparts and you’ve granted my wish with this series! This is the history class the world needs to make sure they attend. While I am facinated with the countries you’ve visited and eager to watch your amazing discoveries, I would love to know about Blacks in Central America, specifically in El Salvador, where I’m from. It’s my understanding that there were no blacks in El Salvador due to the fact that El Salvador is the only country that does not have shores on the Carribean Sea and the slave trade did not impact the country. I graciously welcome any feedback. Thank you for doing this type of research, it is so important for many reasons. All the best to you.

  • GA

    Fascinating, Do you talk about how did slavery end? or was it just by getting diluted?

    How is that different? I’ve never heard of a Martin Luther King in any

    Why not talk about the other countries, the history, the mixing.

    Yes It is fascinating how one drop of anything takes you away from black. As a LA myself what always keeps me wondering the unwritten rule of black or indian is less and always pushing for whiteness.

    Hope your follow up on LA involves other countries even the natives/or indians if possible. Congrats!

  • Minister W. Lee Marshall

    Thank you. I found the cultural information stimulating and valuable. No one should ever be ashamed of any portion of their culture. We should all make it a point to insure the dignity and success of each human, no matter what the culture. God bless, truth.

  • Mike C. Okereke

    Intuitively, I have always mantained that there are more Blacks in Latin America than there are in the United States. My only surprise is that only 4%, or 1 in 25 of the slaves brought into the Americas landed, or came to the United States. What a very minute %. This then goes to say that there are many voiceless Blacks in the Americas. That is truly apalling. And it appears to be all honky dory as far as the status quo is concerned.
    I am particularly greatful that you, Dr. Gates, is making the world, especially Americans(US citizens) to be fully aware of this. I am hoping that President Barak Obama would begin now to very seriously consider this realization into his foreing policy agenda.
    Black Americans have some relative voice in speaking out because of the American constitution, and how the epochal Civil Rights movements and its history made somewhat of a noticeable dent on the Unted States lansdscape. As a result, what the Latin American nations need now is a Martin Luther King figure, to flag it on the faces of these Latin American nations that being Black is no sin, and as such they should have as much voice as others in the various governmental set ups of the Latin countries.
    I will very much encourage Blacks in say The Dominican Republic to begin this agitation for political rights and recognition, and before you know it, it will become a domino effect kind of thing all over Latin America.
    Thank you again for this great awareness.

  • Henri R. Verret

    Dr Gates

    Thank you for your eloquent program on Black in Latin America. Thank you for revealing to the American public the untold story of the Haitian struggle for dignity and preservation of national identity. But there are a few points of historical significance which were not covered in tonight’s program.

    The first point is the historical reason why Haiti invaded the eastern part of the island. The Haitian Founding Fathers had a deep philosophical commitment to the liberation of their fellow African brothers and sisters in the Americas. They hoped that the Haitian revolution would be the beginning of that dream. Their first endeavor was the liberation of their brothers and sisters in the area that is now the Dominican Republic. The fact is always overlooked that the Haitian people abolished slavery in the Dominican Republic.

    The Dominican elite was given military and financial backing by Britain, France, Spain and other powers in their quest to overthrow the Haitian rule. The historical record also shows that once the Haitian withdrew, the Dominican elite asked Spain to recolonize the country. Spain did and tried to re institute slavery. But 22 years off the plantation did not permit this.

    The second point is the liberation of South America. After his initial failure, Simon Bolivar took refuge in Haiti. He was aware of the ultimate dream of the Haitian Founding Fathers for the liberation of the slaves. He sought financial and military support from the Haitian government. He was given a ship with supplies and some Haitian troops under one condition. He agreed and promised that he would free all slaves from the colonies he would be liberating. Thomas Jefferson was a very smart man and knew that the Haitian Revolution would destabilize the world order.

    The Haitian Revolution was not an isolated event. It can be debated that it is one of the two most important event in the Western Hemisphere. The American Revolution is usually viewed as the most important event. But Manifest Destiny and from “sea to shiny seas” would not have been possible without the Louisiana Purchase. Texas and California would probably be provinces in Mexico.


    Roughly 1/3rd of all white Americans can trace at least one black ancestor in their lineage and yet no one covers that tidbit of information. I am of Cuban descent, so I have seen every “unexpected” color and feature and so-called race variation two humans can produce. Mulatos and jabás from two “whites“, whites from a black grandmother and white grandfather. You get the picture! If the U.S. enforced the one drop rule through mitochondrial DNA testing, roughly half of the U.S. population would be black. Kudos to Dr. Gates on presenting this rich history on black Latinos. We know who we are. But as long as the world view continues to be dominated by a Eurocentric sense of superiority, this series will only draw depraved curiosity for the short term before the history becomes buried in the darkest recesses of the mind in denial. Black is original man. Blackness gave humanity its pulse, syncopation and heartbeat. The rhythm of speech expressed as music, the kinetic expression of mind from body. Kill off blackness and you essentially will kill off mankind. It has taken 400+ years to tell this story, and it will take but a flip of the television channel to forget about what we have learned. There seems to be no solution to this never-ending issue.

  • Harry Joseph

    Finally somebody reported the on the history of Haiti and the Dominican Republic in a sober, enlightning and truthful manner. This was only the first part of the series, but from the look of it I will definately be watching the rest. I have to say thanks to Dr. Gates for not submitting to propaganda, stereotypes and negativity that have shaped the history of Haiti and the relationship with it’s neighbors. I will be ordering the DVD version of the series today and will be also be encouraging friends and family to do so.

  • el negro sabroso

    A most interesting topic, that all can benefit from. As an African-American, with extensive latino family ties, i cannot get enough of this type of history lesson, as it breaks down barriers and puts forward the notion ( and evidence ) that we are pretty much all the same. Where the boat dropped us off , at this time in history , in the 21st century , becomes less relevant, and what should become more prominent is that we are interrelated and that interrelationship gives us a certain commonality which can translate into a powerful sense of pride which can lead to so many things, economically, politically and most important , spiritually. Its amazing how african culture has persisted despite the many attempts to dilute it , castigate it, and remove it all together. God Bless you Mr. Gates and continue to expose and elevate the consciousness of the world as it relates to mother Africa.
    “bomba is calypso is jazz, its just a matter of where the accent is” sigue pa’ lante.

  • christian Santiago

    I think that panama,colombia and puerto rico would have been better episodes than mexico and peru because all three countries have a large african decended population
    colombia being 3rd in the world
    panamas black population wether full or mixed almost reaching half the demographic
    and puerto ricans generally having some degree of african ancestry

    puerto rico would have been interesting due to the fact that we have a catagory and name for almost every skin hue we come in from the pinkest skinned redhead to blondes with african facial features to mahogany blacks. the overwhelming population is actually a spectrum of mixed degrees that you cannot really identify which makes up the majority, but african heritage is deffinately just as influential on our culture as it is in D.R and Cuba. Also puerto rican blacks are influential on african american history as well just to mention arturo schomburg and the first black man to set foot on the island of manhattan was a freed puerto rican slave.
    the connection between the u.s and puerto rico was important in creating our racial identity where puerto rican immigrants going tot he u.s were suprised that they were regarded as blacks and subject to being segregated depending on their phenoptype. A country where two brothers with the same parents could look completely different and be on the total opposite side of the color spectrum. Also a long history of whitening tot he point of being called the whitest island in the antilles, with a great denial of how strong the african gene is in most of its populations.

  • Hervé

    In many parts of Latin America there has been a break from formal equality in the direction ofthe ‘plural state’. The multicultural nature of many Latin American societies has been formally recognized . In a number of countries’ constitutions, Indians, and in some cases blacks or maroon societies, have been granted distinctive
    rights to land, cultural protection, social services and education.
    For example, in Venezuela, constitutional changes that reference ‘native’ rights (but not those of Afro-descendants) were approved by a popular referendum in 1999
    In Peru, bicultural and intercultural educational programs have been implemented.
    In Bolivia, the government has combined multicultural constitutional changes with a decentralization of the state . Most recently, the administration of Bolivian President Evo Morales has advanced an anti-racist, non-Eurocentric form of multiculturalism. Along with cultural-group-recognition-type reforms, racism and racial inequality have come under attack.
    Public institutions, policies and legislation aimed at combating racial discrimination have been developed and implemented in countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and Peru In Brazil and Colombia, policies such as affirmative action have been instituted to redress racial discrimination against Afro-descendants.

  • Brooklyn Scholar

    Thank you Mr. Gates for shedding light on a subject that I’ve researched, but is often not discussed in mass media in the US nor abroad. Many comments suggest that you could have talked about race (blackness) in other countries. Your reasoning for choosing the selected countries seems on point. Continue to do great work and get the word out!

    All the best.

  • Gabby

    to Jose from Puerto Rico.
    the following statement you made “However, I will give Puerto Ricans one, we are probably the only people in the world who use the adjective “negrito” or little black one, as a term of endearment. If somebody from Puerto Rico calls you negro or negrito they are actually calling you “dear” or “deary”. Is not really correct. Actually is used by most Hispanics as an endearing term.

    I consider myself black, but I have first cousins who are green or blue eyed blonds and who “look white”….that mean nothing to us because we know how genes can show you up in the most unexpected moment.

    and it is sad that Puerto Ricans do not appreciate their black ancestry. I understood that Taino’s were decimated by the Spaniards, so who has any Taino roots?

  • Luis A. Torres, Jr.

    Are you kidding me? You left out Puerto Rico? I KNOW there was in your life when you MUST have visited the Schomburg Center. Visiting the Schomburg center is like an African American Rite of Passage. How Dare You?!? I used to like your programming but I must say that I am EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED!!!

  • Elena

    Jan’s comment at the top regarding “current access to economic achievement in Latin America” is a subject on discrimation in Latin America I have been hearing and observing for decades. Dr. Gates did touch on it writing:

    ” And finally, I discovered that in each of these societies the people at the bottom are the darkest skinned with the most African features. In other words, the poverty in each of these countries has been socially constructed as black. The upper class in Brazil is virtually all white, a tiny group of black people in the upper-middle class. And that’s true in Peru, that’s true in the Dominican Republic. Haiti’s obviously an exception because it’s a country of mulatto and black people but there’s been a long tension between mulatto and black people in Haiti. So even Haiti has its racial problems”.

    What’s missing are solutions. (But we are missing plenty of solutions here in the US!) I see one big difference in the people of Latin America versus the US. They know their history. Here, some are working on revising history, slavery gets downplayed to providing homes for the poor. “Jay Walking” will have people ignorant of the Civil War ever happening! The distortion of history (atrocities committed by any group) is abhorent & a force against a civilized society. But with few exceptions, and few apologies, distortion and denial is the pattern.

    Dr. Gates history is an awakening for me who studied the history of South America in college (long ago). The indegenous people were covered, the European colonization, but very little on slavery. What an ommission!

    Dr. Gates is at least addressing ignorance and denial. For most in the US, it goes way beyond our history classes and for Latin Americans, it’s a reminder of unsolved racial discrimination.

  • al

    I think it’s a litle odd about him going to Peru and Mexico since afro hispanics are such a small minority there and are barley visible in the population, The same goes for most hispanic countries.

    He should of just gone to the carribean and the coastal areas of Colombia but not the interior (Medellin,Bogota)
    which is mostly Mestizo(indian-white mix).


    I visited the Dominican Republic. I wondered how did the Dominicans know I was an American. I’m muscular & Dark. Why didn’t they call me Haitian? Whatever. A White expatriate living there said, dominicans despise everybody, black/white anybody that is not Dominican. Really. I pondered that. What i do know is that the Dominican Republic is a very poor space for blacks. They KNOW that the darker they are the more on the Bottom they are. It is a very COLOR conscious country. I do not understand why the mulattoes/browns/paperbags etc take their poverty in stride….UNTIL I seen you show and how their former President Trullo drove into their psyche (Self-Hate) and how different they are to the Haitians. It was the Haitians that Freed them from Slavery.

  • Gigi

    As a Dominican I am soooo glad you are doing this series. Although I must say that I do not know a dark skin Dominican person who does not know they are black. I was surprised that the program ran through the Dominican history without clarifying exactly why we consider ourselves who we are ( there was a lot of generalization ).
    I am from the Cibao region. My family is French, Haitian, Spanish and Chinese ( Im exactly 1/8 African) and I couldnt be more proud of my heritage. Spanish is my native language but above all “I am Dominican”. We Dominicans are VERY mix, I am light tan, have curly hair and my face has Asian carasteristics and knowing my heritage it is absurd for me to say that I am just one specific race.
    I am not sure who told that one guy he was “Indio” nor why it took a trip to NY for him to realize who he was. I need to clarify that Dominicans call “Indio” people who are mulatto, as told in the series the native indians (Tainos) were all killed by the Spaniards, and mulattos skin tone reminded people of the native indians and that’s how the “Indio” reference came about. Dark skin Dominicans are known as black. If Dominicans were not proud of their African heritage we would not use phrases like ” Mi negro-a! Moreno-a! Prieta-o! “.
    But many of us just want to be known as what we are “Dominicans”.
    Being a Dominican in the south, most Americans assume Im Mexican, when I say I’m Dominican fellow hispanics and Americans usually say ” No way! you’re not dark enough to be Dominican! “. As a whole we need to stop stereo-typing / generalizing, when I am told Im not dark enough to be Dominican I usually follow with this question “What is a Dominican supossed to look like?” and all I hear is silence, I guess because people realize they are talking out of ignorance.
    Lets be proud of who we are as a people, regardless of race!. The color of my skin does not define me, what matters is whether or not I am making a difference in this world.
    I look foward to watching the shows that follow, as I know this is an issue for many. Lets educate ourselves!

  • Liliana

    I was fascinated from beginning to end. I will be buying the series to show to my children. I commend Dr. Gates for opening the door for most of the US. While criticism can be productive, we cannot expect this series to be an exhaustive representation,only to open the door and shed the light on a much whispered topic. I have often visited other countries surprised to find other people who look like me, because the media and travel brochures of these countries simply do not represent the racial diversity of the area. This first episode has resulted in me spending more time exploring, thinking about, and talking to others about this topic. I am learning that, at the end of the day, people are not what they seem, and usually not what the media portrays them to be. I am excited to see more episodes and learn more!!

  • Liliana

    I was fascinated from beginning to end. I will be buying the series to show to my children. I commend Dr. Gates for opening the door. While criticism can be productive, we cannot expect this series to be an exhaustive representation, but to open the door and shed the light on a topic that is still in the dark for many of us in the US. I have often visited other countries surprised to find other people who look like me, because the media and travel brochures of these countries simply do not represent the racial diversity of the area. This first episode has resulted in me spending more time exploring, thinking about, and talking to others about this topic. I am learning that, at the end of the day, there isn’t as much difference between cultures and peoples as is sometimes portrayed. I am excited to see more episodes and learn more!!

  • Mitch Ewing from Michigan

    Mr. Gates, these documentaries are astonishing. Understanding who we the beginning of life. For years, I longed for this knowledge…..both to understand who I am….versus…who they said I was and to teach my family as well as others about our precious history and culture. I teach my whole family (young and old) including my children about their heritage and to be proud of who they are (even though I haven’t been able to fully trace my roots). Black is beautiful. Once again thanks………..powerful and inspiring!!!!!!!!!!

  • V.Spruill

    I am black and was born and raised in New York City. My families roots are in the deep South. The members of my family range in skin colors as light as “Egg Nog” and dark as “Dark Chocolate” yet we all love each other. However, outside the bonds of that love exists the nasty head of racism. We all have experienced racism in some form or fashion. I thank Dr. Gates for bringing this issue to the forefront. I look forward to seeing the other segments of this series.

  • TAINO1

    Thank You Mr. Henry Louis Gates Jr for your excellent job on this most important topic. we enjoyed it here in New Orleans. From a creole and carribbean latin american family backround, we are aware of the socio econmoic impacts of the history you covered in this work. As a person of Creole and Native American descent I was surprised that the Taino Islanders were not mentioned , because of he important bond between the Arawak and the African that was born at the time of violent struggle and survival during the colonial period. We look forward to the next three parts of the series.

  • Mystic

    I was enjoying the question and answer session until his very last answer. His documentary was a study of race in Latin America, not of politics and economics. We didn’t need for Mr. Gates to insert what is more than his random opinion about Cuba’s supposed need for capitalism and democracy. These things, especially capitalism, have certainly not kept other countries in the region (e.g. Jamaica) from being mired in poverty. It is an unjust economic embargo that has held Cuba down more than anything else. Unless he turns his documentary into an exhaustive economic study of Cuba, he should resist the urge to give us his opinions on anything but race and culture.

  • Helene

    I enjoyed the first portion regrading Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and am looking froward to the other installments. I was surprised the documentary series did not include Puerto Rico, Belize and many other nations that have quite large Black/Mulatto populations. Many New Yorican’s have been surprised once they have gone to visit PR, because a lot of them have not been told that they too have African ancestry. The myth of the Taino/Taina throughout the Carribbean is similar to that of many African American’s believing they have Native American blood. Though some do, not to the degree they want to believe. I always encourage our Spanish speaking brethren who deny their heritage to take a trip to their supposed motherland; Spain, and they would realize that they are more African than Spanish, even to the point that Spaniard’s are nicer and more respectful to African-American’s than the descendants from their former colonies. If they don’t believe, tell them to take a trip to Spain.

  • Helene

    After reading the other comments I noticed that someone mentioned the African’s in Asia. People either forget or they don’t know about the Arab slave trade that took many African as well as European slaves to Asia. During the most recent olympics, a comment was made regarding India not winning any of the sports that called for speed. A gentleman said that “their” Blacks had been in India far too long and had mixed with the locals to much to be able to win. There were many Ethiopian’s and people of African descent from many of the African nations through the slave marketplace of Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania. This would definitely be a good topic for your next venture. Just a suggestion.

  • Marquita

    As an African American, I have always been fascinated with the African Diaspora, I’ve known for many years, that our African Ancestors were sent to different parts of the “New World”. This subject is of great importance to me, because not many people here in the US , know the full extent of our history, which I find most beautiful. I would tell people that there are more people of African descent in Central and South America, then there are here in the US, and they would reply”Really”. I’ve often wonder if there were members of the same family from Africa, during the slave trade, that were sent to different parts of the “New World”,now that would take me back if you could discover long lost relatives. I thank God for Mr Gates and PBS, for showing us “Our History”, beyond the North American shores.

  • Richard

    Gates has no credibility with me. The incident with the police officer (and Obama) is a big problem for me. Isn’t there someone else that we can go to for insight, someone more scientific and less ideological? Also, I don’t think Harvard has a monopoly on people worth listening to.

  • Dana

    Wonderful work, Prof. Gates

  • Melissa.

    I was dissapointed in how Dr. Louis Gates glossed over Haitis cruel and brutal rule in the Dominican Republic. They had curfews for Dominicans along with the fact that they forcibly tried to take their language, culture, religion and customs away from them as they brutally imposed French and Haitian culture. They even took most of their land and were known for raping and abusing power. Their goal was to make Dominicans 2nd class citizens to Haitians but the UN and the media always skips over those 22 years as if the Haitians did nothing but try to “unify” the island.

    The rest of I agree with but I cannot forgive yet ANOTHER ommission of the TRUTH. They freed the slaves in the DR, yes, so they could convert them into the lower rung of their own society. How altruistic and brave.

  • Gino

    Mr. Gates
    Thank you so much. I have traveled through Latin America and I have both witnessed and experienced racism there. In Cuba I was stopped daily and asked for my papers. I witnessed white Cubans traveling without incident. When I asked most black are dark skinned Cubans why this was happening, most said it was because I looked Cuban. But I have to point out that I am dark skinned African-American. Banners adorned the streets with there is no racism in Cuba. As we know if we have to put banners out, then there must be a problem. Also, I was called a jinatero or pimp and this is because of two reasons : what I was wearing was not conservative (wife beater tank top, brand new shorts and sandals and a nice bracelet; I also was traveling with a woman who was of Asian descent. I traveled from Havana to Santiago De Cuba. I witnessed black face performances in the Most black populated areas in resorts in Santiago. It was sad to see this. I was stopped everyday in these hotels asking why I was there. To add insult to injury I was not allowed in most hotels in this city even after I showed my passport. Clearly the revolution changed somethings but not the leadership of the country. The leaders are mostly still of European descent and upper class roots. Unfortunately the reality is that all of Latin America holds the same opinion of Africans or Blacks. Colombia the second most populated country outside of Africa with Brazil first and Venezuela third and the US Fourth. The difference in the former English Colonies is there is more African Pride.

    Lastly, the Americas had an indigenous group of people who were also enslaved and for the most part wiped
    out. Often, you will never here people talk about the fact that the indigenous people were also slaves. A fact still that goes undiscussed in conversations.

    Finally, my point is made more clear of the hatred of Blacks or Africans in shows such as featuring Latin Americans. Almost none of them feature blacks or Africans. It is if they don’t exist.

  • Javier Balmoral-Medina, San Juan, PR

    Dear Dr. Gates,

    I strongly suspect that my comments will be removed by your “race-blind” and “diversity-driven” editors, but after watching your PBS “documentary” on “Black in Latin America” (Domincan Republic & Haiti) I could not let your snide sidebar commentaries stand unchallenged.

    First, you make the predictably and equally tragic mistake of viewing “race” outside of the USA through the shattered and blinding race prism based on a race code that was started in the society of the American South slave plantation, that of the “1 Drop Rule”. Seriously, by no stretch of ANY scientific metric would such a rule be given any credibility today, but yet its social aftermath chokes Americans in any attempt to discuss race intelligently. The subsequent racial matrix that has evolved from this racial code has left the USA crippled and mute in its endless struggle to reach a universally-accepted and completely politically-correct racial nirvana, at this point a totally useless exercise in institutionalized and deeply-embedded American race hypocrisy.

    From your first utterance of the term “brotha” to your repeated references to everyone in the DR being black, it becomes abundantly clear that neither you, nor your culturally comatose PBS camera crew or staff noticed the 10%-15% of Domincans that are White. Did you not see them at the airport? At the banks? At the luxury hotels? NO, they are not light-skinned nor are they white-looking as some lesser minds have commented already on this thread.

    And so with that as context, I would recommend that you take particular care to NOT interpret the racial reality of our experience in the Caribbean, something that NO American of any racial background could ever understand in all of its cultural, racial, ethnic, social and emotional nuance and complexity. In short, keep your smug, insider observations to yourself and allow those of us who live in the Caribbean speak for ourselves. THAT would have included having White Dominicans speak in your documentary.

    No doubt the typical American viewer will applaud you and PBS, but for those of us who live, breathe, work and negotiate our racial world daily, your “documentary” comes off as sophomoric, naive, superficial and typically obtuse in its American interpretation.

    What a crashing disappointment. And yes, you can now call me “racist”, afterall, what would I know from MY OWN experience as a White in the Caribbean.

    I expected so much from you and PBS.

    And yes, there is racism in Latin America, but we have NO monopoly on that sad social dynamic. In fact the USA affords us a big-screen TV view of what racial interaction failures look like every time we watch the evening news in the USA. And now YOUR documentary will only add to that sordid pile of misinformation.

    Y aun te quedaste mono, mijo.

  • Osvaldo Lora

    i think allot of info from Dr was left out, like how allot of the first Dominican leaders were black. also some of the first rebellions i n large organized mass happened in the Dr . Yes most Dominicans identified with other than black but definitely blacks played important rolls in the Dominican evolution as a country.

  • Ros

    Thank you Thank you Thank you. I wish that you could extend the triangle to Trinidad and Tobago,Antigua and Barbuda, Martinique, Jamaica, Dominica, Guyana, Montserrat, Barbados…… Watching your show has made me feel as if I am on a roller coaster with some many different feelings, but, the stories has to be told and regardless what, no one is where there are today without African descents who came to the new world with many different shades of black. Expecting to see Blacks in Asia one day.

    God has a journey for all of us and yours is to be the teacher that teaches how to question HIS – STORY.

  • Criolla Boliviana

    In Bolivia the Agrarian Reform was implemented in 1952 with the right to vote for all. The new Cosntitucion mas criollos, mestizos and others citizen of second class.
    We had records that registered race, origen and work since the colonila times.
    In Bolivia the few blacks mixed with indigenous polulation and adquire their forms of clothing. They are called zambos, mixed with criollos are mulattos. The mayority of Bolivians are indians, and then mestizos. We the criollos are only about 7%, we have nissei, that their families came after war II ,Yugoslavs ,and menonites.
    This last groups starting with criollos are all being descriminated, persecuted, by President Morales.

    There is a genocide of the criollo and mestizo culture, our language, customes,and religion.
    I believe that one should not see himself defined by a race or races but by the pride of nacionality, in Bolivia the Republic was divided in 34 “nations”.
    I prefer how French see their Nationals, as French and that is.
    Race dosent define a person it is the upbringing and values. One can see the diference in countries with similar population race wise and diferent progress , values and way of life.
    I think this program divide more than unify. And by the way if I would comment in Bolivia the radio, TV, newspapers can be closed, fined or taken over.

  • Jaime

    To the prior posters in this blog,
    I watched the initial episode and was ambivalent in my personal reflections. On one hand, the emphasis on one group goes against everything that I grew up with in Puerto Rico, where children of the same parents can look radically different. I remember my aunt (who was bronzed) and my father (who was “white”) and my other 13 uncles and aunts, all in between, my cousins (all shades); the family reunions were joyful and boisterous. However, I also remember reading stories like “Bagazo” and others which stressed the existing and institutionalized racism, from the Negro laws under Spain with very severe punishment for the “negro” who transgressed, the old “negro” who works the cane fields all his life to then be dismissed as chaff, and to the mother who uses a “pañuelo” in the head to hide her hair, tells her mother to stay in the kitchen (who is much darker), and the granddaughter who is much lighter than both and is being courted by an Anglo from the U.S. who is surprised, shocked, and dismissive when he finds out that the young lady has some black ancestry.
    I understand that such dialog needs to occur. In communities with whole African-descended (which is funny, because in a sense we are all related from African migrations!!!) across countries such as Colombia, Perú, or México (or somewhere as Loíza in Puerto Rico, Tras Talleres, or some other barrios in municipalities), how will the rights and benefits be determined? How will this materialize in my beautiful island I can’t envision, as how can someone prove a degree of blackness beyond the skin? How is the person claiming rights as black for discrimination basing the distinction? If you use skin color get ready, because there are many shades in between; second, what about bloodlines? Would this be something akin to the blood percentage used for tribal enrollment and benefits for the U.S. federally-recognized native Americans? You cannot determine that in the basis of historical rolls, as many records were destroyed or slave ancestry might be difficult.
    If we’re talking about recognizing the value and heritage which we all Puerto Ricans value, from eating mondongo and gandinga, moving our feet as soon as a bomba sicá starts with the feel moving through our bodies and souls, singing in chant and response, intermarrying because we see ourselves more as Puerto Ricans than a black Puerto Rican, a white Puerto Rican, a bronze Puerto Rican, than as separate races living and sharing the culture, we do that already. If this is to acknowledge the degree that we all have some degree of African ancestry, I’m all for that, because I’m a “jabao”, who has white skin, blue eyes, and had a nice afro to match (no longer, I shave my head:). However, one of my questions is, does having the afro make me a black person? This insistence on calling everything that is black denies the mixing that took place and all the elements which comprise my person, beyond culture, into genetics.
    I would not be surprised if a majority of African-Americans had a degree of white ancestry. I am saddened to say that my first exposure to direct racism was here in the mainland United States, where someone asked me if I was a “White” Puerto Rican? I am Puerto Rican, period and this was something that people here could not envision or understand because the mentality seemed to be based on the color of the skin and no more.
    Returning to this series, I will watch every episode avidly, as I hope to learn more about the inexistent blacks in México (or Texas for that part, since I watched Selena I thought she had black ancestry with her body). I hope that clear dialog comes out of this for the U.S. to understand the mosaic that makes the Latin American tapestry and to come up with solutions for the problems based on race here. To my Latin American kin, echemos pa’lante con un diálogo abierto y honesto. Sólo así podremos movernos. Sin aceptar nuestras raíces, no podemos enfrentar el futuro.

  • Javier Medina-Olivetti

    how sad that so many intelligent and insightful comments have been deleted when they point out the bias and flaws of perception that swirls through Gates’ little provincial American head. how “diverse” is that?

  • carlos vidal

    Prof. Henry Gates
    Professor Gates it is a pleasure to salute you. I respect you a lot because of your work and consistency of your criteria. Nevertheless this time I am writing you because I Just watched the documentary on Haiti and Dominican Republic, an island divided, and found a couple of mistakes that are thought to let go.
    First, the musician in the interview is not Frank Cruz is Francis Santana. He is very well known and loved in this country.
    Second, the person that said that he is black, represent a point o view that is racist in itself because denies that Dominicans have more Hispanics heritage than Africans. Color has nothing to do here. It is culture.
    There are other points to discuss because shows some bias but I will address only the most important.
    The Dominicans don’t think in black and white. Nobody in a sane mind can blame us for that. None can characterize us like that. We know our heritage and we don’t deny it, which is no true. Despite of our mix heritage and race we are very, very different than Haitians. Our culture is unique and different.
    Please do not pretend, because of your obvious sympathy for Haitians, which I welcome, to favor the ill intention of certain groups to unify the island for their economic and dominion interest and convenience. These two countries should be help to understand, assist and cooperate with each other, but anyone favoring any suggestion of assimilation is wrong.
    This documentary is done, I guess nothing could we do to correct it, but should be some kind of apology to the people of Dominican Republic. If you are a serious person, as I believe, you will find the way to do it.
    Carlos Vidal

  • Florence

    I have always enjoyed most of Dr Gates work on PBS. He is a Master Griot and Historian. I so look forward to more of his documentaries on PBS. We are indeed fortunate to benefit from his knowledge.
    With his most recent documentary I hope as I can see it already has, stimulates us to proceed in good dialogue with one another.

  • Bronxarican Borinquen

    This statement is very well put by E. Sanchez and I couldn’t agree with him more. Mr. Gates is looking at Latinos from an African American perspective as an African American who is out of touch with the Latino culture. There is no denying that Latinos come in many colors, there is no denying our pride for being Latino and united through that pride.

    Personally speaking, as a brown-skinned “mulutta” Puerto Rican who has been to the island throughout my life I have never experienced, seen or heard of any racial tensions. Now I am not saying that it does not exist but its not blatant “in your face” as you would see here in the states among African Americans within their own culture. Now this is a topic that would definately be worth exploring because I’ve seen among friends or randomly obvious disregard to “mulatto/a” vs. stronger African featured African Americans espeically among the women.

    However, it is very common to have the same Latino parents and have siblings with different complections, hair textures of features so there is an “acceptability” among Latinos with different looks. This is because it’s common and within our own family without having to date outside our culture. It’s what makes being Latino beautiful our cultural mix (indigenous natives/Spaniards/African/European/and in some cases Asian).

    I truly hope that Mr. Gates experience doesn’t come across to others as trying to divide Latino people. Also, that the American 1 drop rule is not imposed on other non-American cultures because thats just another mentality driving to divide. Instead, I hope that everyone watching Mr. Gates vision sees that our Latino history isn’t the same as African Americans or Americans for that matter. Of course, the slave ships were sent to our countries/islands so we have African roots and yes these roots are embraced despite what may come across in non-Latino’s interpretations of us. Just taste our food, listen to our music and explore our Latino culture further on your OWN and you WILL find the Arfican influences are strongly there and even more so in NOS RAZA than in the African American food/music/culture. There is no denying that if you take the time to find the truth on your own.

    E. Sanchez

    “April 19, 2011 at 5:08 pm
    Mr. Gates vision is clearly partial and seemingly an attempt to draw a distinction between the “blacks” in South and Central American, and the Caribbean and the other folks who live among them, you know, ….the light skinned Latinos. But for someone who has never lived his childhood there, he has no inkling of the bonds held between most people who live in South, Central, North America, and the Caribbean, which include “blacks”, light skinned folks and everyone in between. If he truly understood “our” thing…..our RAZA, he would clearly see that regardless of the color of the people in Latin America….we are ALL Latinos!! We share a culture including music, religion, food and customs which date back hundreds of years. Just as in the U.S of course, there is racism but not on a level felt in the U.S. In Latin America….we are Latinos. We do not distinguish ourselves between being white, black, yellow, what have you. Ask yourselves if you have ever experienced that sort of unity in American among the blacks. I think not.
    I think what Mr. Gates is attempting to accomplish is division knowing full well that Latinos….and we are many colors, are now the largest minority in the United States and in order to remain relevant in the public debate, perhaps in his most vain assault he would like to introduce a topic so as to divide the Latino community among colors. You cannot speak to the history of blacks in South America without first including ALL Latinos of South America. This is not about color nor should it be. We are Latinos…We are La Raza.”

  • Isabella Manuel

    And Americans are all Americans regardless of the color of their skin, yeah right. That is as much a fallacy in America as it is and has always been in Latin America. In America we share a culture, Christian faith, customs, foods that date date generations like in Latin America, but their is still a great distinction between the races as in Latin America. In Latin America the whitest most European looking are on top the blacks and other darker colors are not. There is a lot of division amongst Latinos based on skin color, though many chose to ignore or not believe it. It has always been about color in Latin America…the teachings of racial unity regardless of color and race by La Raza is mythological.

  • Diane

    Mr. Gates,
    Thanks for your attention to Cuba.Certainly ending legal discrimination does not automatically end racism, but I believe that Cuba is way ahead of the U.S. in that arena. One of the areas you did not focus on was children in the schools, where, unlike in many areas of the U.S., in Cuba, children of many shades of white, brown and black play together and eat lunch together and socialze together.
    I also don’t agree that Cuba would be better off as a capitalist country. Certainly blacks in the U.S. are not better off. Given the growing disparity in income due to remittances from Hispanic relatives in the U.S., how would blacks there fare if they had to pay for college and health care and housing? The infant mortality rate is lower than in the U.S. and other health care outcomes are better. Cuban education and health care is the envy of many other Latin American countries and capitalism would change all that.

  • Karin

    I am thoroughly enjoying this series and am very interested to see the Brazil episode.
    I am of Cuban descent and was looking forward to tonight’s episode. I was surprised to see that there was no mention of Cuba’s involvement in Ethiopia and Angola which brought so many Africans to the island in the last 50 years.
    I agree that with the revolution came literacy and health care but there was no mention of the civilians that were killed in the process. Batista was not the only brute to run the county.
    I understand that everything that is done on the island must be approved by the government and perhaps that is why some historical data was omitted.

  • Charles R. Rodríguez

    Professor Gates’ acceptance of modern Cuban political history as relayed to him by the regime is surely a gift to Fidel Castro. For a more factual and thoroughly researched history of the facts I would recommend the work of historian Dr. Manuel Márquez-Sterling, “Cuba 1952-1959: The True Story of Castro’s Rise to Power”.

  • Jane

    I have watched the first two episodes in this series and have read the comments on this board with interest. I think that some of the commentators have actually forgotten that the the title is Black in Latin America and that Mr Gates is trying to get and give an idea of the experience of persons of African descent in Latin America.

    Granted, most people in Latin America by the American “one drop” rule would be considered black. But we must remember that for very practical reasons, that definition could not be adopted in Latin America and the Caribbean by the comparatively miniscule white population. In order to maintain their political, economic and social dominance in their colonial societies they needed to infect everyone else with their faulty concepts based on white racial superiority. And they did a very good job of it by linking privilege with gradations of color. Thus the more European you were regarded as being, the more superior your privileges.

    Consequently, how well darker-skinned persons of African descent as a people fare, and how much and how well their legacy and history is embraced within any given society is a measure of how well that society has managed to emancipate themselves from the mental slavery of racial myths, prejudices and perceptions. And I think this is at the heart of what Mr Gates’ documentary explores.

    I did enjoy watching the documentaries and it did serve to shed some light on some attitudes towards blackness I had observed in person of Latin American descent. Like another contributor, I am hopeful that Mr Gates would be able to do a series on the black experience in the British Caribbean/West Indies because it would be interesting to see how a different historical trajectory impacts upon these aforementioned myths in those societies.

  • R. Guppy

    Dearest Professor Gates,
    I have enjoyed all of your PBS specials and have learned a great deal. I have been watching you latest special on race in Latin America. I would love to learn the origin of the race problem in Trinidad and Tobago, between the Africans and Indians.

  • Beth Ortuno

    Rafael you should go to Brazil before you criticize. Everywhere you go people with very, very African physical appearances, religious traditions, food styles, musical flavors, dancing styles, you-name-it… consider themselves absolutely, unequivocally white and I heard them talk bad about blacks. This is not some professor’s political correctness construct. This is what the people are literally doing. I have a habit of challenging racist comments and “jokes” wherever and whenever I hear them and I was told over and over again BY BRAZILIANS that Brazil is overwhelmingly white, racism being therefore a teeny tiny issue affecting really almost nobody. It’s just from the outside as a visitor that you see the African. They don’t see it.

  • Jay Dubz

    I find many of the comments posted here as interesting as the documentary itself.

    Though I think criticism and debate is healthy, some of what I have read here needs some degree of context. It must be realized that this unprecedented examination of those of admitted and recognizable African descent in Latin America is merely one perspective, limited for the most part by a constriction of time, and it’s unreasonable to believe that the racial dynamics of Latin America can be fully explored in 4 hours. And for those who believe that Dr Gates has purposely dismissed the Native American racial component, must once again understand that the focus of this series is, “Blacks in Latin America” and not Native Americans, which is challenging in itself, especially when the subject has been historically ignored for so long, and again, truncated within the time allotted for the series.

    Regardless of the overwhelming evidence of racial discrimination in Latin America that has the darker-skinned people of African descent, i.e., Black people most noticeably at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, it is obvious from some of the comments I have read thus far, that many, I can only perceive lighter-skinned Latinos, are still in deep denial. What I’ve read here is no different than what was articulated by whites in the Jim Crow South, and that was, “there are no racial problems or discontent”, “we get alone quite well with our negroes”, or “we don’t need any outsiders starting trouble.” They wanted outsiders (usually northerners) to believe that white southern racist attitudes and segregation, the hallmarks of Jim Crow, were merely the unique virtues of Southern culture and their relationships with black southerners were being grossly misunderstood. Basically, “the Southern Negro was supposedly relatively happy being poor and had no intrinsic aspirations to be represented or classed in differently than what was the norm of the time.

    What some Latinos seem to disregard is that even within our so-called elusive “one drop rule” racial stratification, that we, African Americans, also expressed every color, complexion, and racial phenotype, and though African Americans in the US are usually viewed as a cohesive group, we also have historically struggled amongst our own with a type of color discrimination similar to what’s evident in Latin American cultures.

    So we are not as foreign as you think to this issue, and have also wrestled with the same historical and cultural dilemmas paralleling what is present in many Latin American cultures, which are the vestiges of colonization, chattel slavery, and miscegenation.

    If there had previously been a direct recognition, respect, concern, and celebration of Latin America’s African history and the people still identified with this past, especially amongst the Latin American population in general, Dr. Gates efforts would merely be one of many documentaries created in the US examining African identity and contributions in Latin America. He has merely attempted to assist in giving African-Latinos a sociopolitical voice that has actually always existed, but surprisingly, has gone unnoticed by many of their own fellow Latino brothers and sisters!

  • Kristal Thomas

    Professor Gates,

    This has been a wonderful and eye opening series so far even as a black person from a Latin American country. If you are given money for another series, please consider Panama.

  • Dr. Marcus Anthony Baptista

    My family and I are looking forward to “Brazil – A Racial Paradise,” especially because I am of Brazilian extraction. My parents came to the U.S. in the late 50s and I had the opportunity of living and working in Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte from 1982-97. Bravo to Prof. Gates’ contribution to this issue.

  • Enrique Gonzalez

    So Mr Professor Gates wants to educate south americans too? I wonder if he will be able to accept to be educated himself by the example of the Latin-American citizens of african, european and native american descent who want to have color-blinded societies and that in two hundred years have had major success in doing so, than the USA. Dr Gates falls, in many instances, in the same condescending, arrogant attitude of his fellow americans of european descent towards Latin America. North american indians were right on the money when they defined the americans of african descent with the same attitude as Dr Gates as The Black-White-Men.

    PS We, the well-brought-up latin americans, do not drink beer with racists, not even at the table of our presidents.

  • Karen Harvey

    Hello –

    I need to reach you about a black history book I am working on with a black man. I am a white woman and do black history tours in St. Augustine. I have a solid knowledge of black history, but feel the black population should undersand more. Cuba received all the free blacks from Florida when it became a British 1763. I explain this to tourists. They are amazed that Florida had free blacks who eventually went to Cuba with the Spanish.

    Please contact me. I wish to know more and can provide you with information from Florida.

  • Verissimo

    Once in a while we hear that there is no racism in Brazil, they say that Brazil is a racial democracy. However, when we take a look at the languages and attitudes we feel that there is a strong prejudice towards the Black Brazilian community. Brazil has a population of approximately 200 million people and 140 million are Black. Among those, some are mixed with white and other races. Brazil has the third largest Black population in the word, after India and Nigeria, but when we take a close look to the governmental hierarchy, armed forces and multinational corporations, one never sees a Black face. This includes the diplomatic arena, despite the nation having various diplomatic relations with African countries. The lack of concerns for the protection of the lives of Africa-Brazilians is also evident in the very high number of Blacks who have been murdered over the past ten years. Many African-Brazilians, believe that such figures indicate that there is also an undeclared war against the African-Brazilian community. Those who have become victims have been at the hands of “death squads” hired by people in the business community from the ranks of off-duty police. Apartheid in the Americas: Brazil. (Verissimo is a political activist ).

  • Boricua


    I just watched the first installment of Black In Latin America. Although I understand Dr. Gates, qualitative methodology in approaching this subject with a researcher and academic rigor, it is sad to see that once again the thorn of the historical “rib” of the U.S. is ignored. Puerto Rico is not address in Black in America nor Black in the Latin America. That continues to to bother me greatly, because it reflects our crazy political limbo. I grew up in Puerto Rico, 1972-2002 and was very proud of my heritage, a true melting pot of Native, African and European influences. It is and would be a great disservice, to continue to ignore the position and controversy that exploring Puerto Rico within the Latin American context or the U.S. context, because it continues to support the historical ignorance that plague this same country he is looking to educate.
    Cuba, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico and Peru represent clear cut “otherness,” less murky and less confusing , and easy to understand in the binary mentally (good/bad, us/them) of the U.S. audience. For these reasons I understand his methodology, but as a Boricua (native Taino name of the island) I resent it.

  • Mardy

    This was a much needed study and investigation. Thank you Dr. Gates and to all those who funded the making of these documentaries in the hopes of telling these truths. As a woman of African descent (black heritage) it fustrates me to see how Hispanic Americans are in denial of their black heritage as if Africa had nothing to do with the history of their nation and their personal heritage (in most cases). Many of my Hispanic students jump right away to tell me how their ancestors are from spain and that Africa has nothing to do with them each time I try to educate my students about Africa. Just two days ago, a Dominican student dear to my heart says to me bashfully ,”Not me, I don’t have any African in me” He was not being rude, but was speaking his mind. I had to ask him “Have you ever looked in a mirror?” I have personal friends and collegues who always jump right away to tell me they have no african ancestry as soon as I mention the history of their countries, but they are quick to tell me about Spain. It’s all about being educated about the history of your country, the slave trade, and your personal self. The trade was concrete fact and undeniable, 90% of slaves who went to South America and the Carribean is something that should not be erased. The lie that Africa never existed is a lie handed to them from their parents who might not have known the truth or wanted to deny it because in the eyes or the world and themselves “black was and is bad”. They will tell you Mestizo quickly, but not Mulato. When infact most appear to be “mestizomulato”. (on another note) I also have been wishing that there was more out there for Hispanic students that would cater specificly to them to uplift the inner city youth and this is a good start and a real one. A part of knowing who you are is to embrace all that makes you and your culture. I am a black woman, and yes my great grandparents are full blown European, but my African does not erase them or their specific legacy that they handed down to me. My other great grandarents are Afro Asiatics, and I look completely chocolate with cotton/kinnki hair, but my brown skin African heritage and blood can not replace my yellow African heritage and blood. I love all of my grandparents. To be quite honest,although I am getting curious, I don’t care to investigate my European blood from slavery because of what happenned, yet I embrace my other European heritage that was formed out of healthy relationships. However, I still can’t change what went into me. Without every drop of my rainbow colored insides, I would not be who I am. Just because you sweep history under the table does not mean that it never happenned or did not exist. Yes, we are all mixed, but it does not mean one should deny what went into them or the fact that they have the ancestry of those who suffered to make these nations what they are today. I believe that the souls of their ancestors are crying and specific problems in their countries can not be resolved w/ out acknowledging that aspect of history which clearly took place all over the Americas. With the new dna testing, the genome tests and the studies that have been placed out there, what went into the dna of Latin America is undeniable. With such documentaires as this, a lot of Hispanic will have become eductaed about their full heritage or the prejudice attitudes that have been deeply rooted because of slavery. People in general will become educated. The black codes developed was global and remain global and this is going to be breaking down these walls with the newer generations of America and on an international level, and as well because Latin America is the fastes growing ethnic group of our culture. And America is the trend setter of the world. As a whole, Hispanics represent the future (racially speaking) But I also believe this will bring everyone closer together because people will know that after all “we are not that different”. This is also important in the healing of Africa as a whole. As people uncover their complete voices , it will be their children that will also be finding their way to uplift themselves in their country, but this education will lead many back in helping to develop the Lands of their African ancestry. It will not only be the African Americans who will look back as is much needed for this specific group. You see, people in the Carribeans and in South America were able to become healthy in many ways because they were able to developed their own voices, they saw their own presidents, but they too will look back at Africa. They too will learn part of their heritage. They too will understand the importance of remembering their past and the strength of the blood that runs through their veins. It will enable many to help Africa. “History is on the move”. I hope we are all able to wear our hats worthy. I am sure there are many Latinos who will be upset and not want to accept anything Africa, “Not me” they will say as I have heard too many times, but don’t judge till you do your dna testing and even then just love. Also, I grew up knowing of my heritage, but only later did I find out that my admixture was even more than I had previous knowledge of. It makes me love the world even more. It does not take me away from being who I am , but grows me in such an incredible way. I am grounded in who I am and fully at home in so many cultures and life is beautiful.

    A comment: Someone called Dr. Gates a racist on one of these forums. I am sorry, but I believe that this person is in denial. Black a lazy term for Africans has been dashed and branded as -the other- the taboo race for such a long time. Subhuman, the subconscious mind believes many to think including even the african amerians and sometimes, those in Africa themselves. SO-We have the right for righteous and healthy anger. We have the right to be prolific power pistols that will move our people forward. We have the right to use our intelligence and profound voices to investigate, mend, and set the record straight. They stated that he was celebrating the genocide of the French in Haiti. Please. I will not excuse your ignorance. It was less than a half percent of the french that died compared to the tragic African Holocaust, Can that even make up for the million of lives that were lost or spirits that were broken of the Africans, the stigma that has marred our beautiful complections and destroyed our family, heritage, image, and amazing cultures for centuries. I applaude you for speaking your mind, but I will not excuse it. Actually, most so called black people literally have brown skin. I believe this term was first developed to smear our dark skin and make white or European skin seem right (by linking it to the actual color of white). This man is one of the great band aids of our time, one of the medicine and remedy that the world has been waiting for. I believe that the finger of God allowed Dr. Gates’ dna to be half white so that he could stay rooted in knowing that he is a human first before all things. All these issues need to be brought up. I am glad they are now spoken so openly. I say to anyone who might hate another race, if you are american, or hispanic, don’t assume that you know who you are. Don’t say Oh I love all people, but I can’t marry a black person or a white person. If so, you have prejudice in you. Don’t hate any race because alot went into making America. To every Person of African origin, know yourself, love yourself. All else is Self Hate and must be healed. If you know who you are, no one can come in your house and tell you who you are or are not. We are all human first. To the younger generations, forget about thug life and hold up with great pride the ancient swords of honorable warriors who walked before you. Learn to carry yourselfves as the children of powerful and soulful people who are strong and rooted with the earth. Know you are African, but don’t have a seperate attitude. Don’t let the media dictate who you are or are suppose to be. Don’t let the persona of what a black person is suppose to be dictate the reality of your inner man, your G-d given natural self. Learn to embrace all that you are and don’t confine your personalities to what this unheallthy “cool blackness is suppose to be”. It’s unhealthy and “generic” and created by people who are making lots of money over your down fall as a people and a race. Believe me, your great grandads did not act that way. They would not be proud of a lot that is going on in our African-American communities. Don’t be pushed, don’t place, or allow yourself to be placed into the “other category” as if you are the subhuman still suffering from the rape of slavery. Don’t feed the machine of slavery that has been constantly running and still wants to dictate as a curse of -Poverty, lack of education, hopelessness, fustration, or self hate”. Take advantage of every opportunity of learning and an education that you can obtain as a human being. Be progressive as an individual first, as an American person, as a family member, and as an “AFRICAN”. You are human first, and entited to every great thing that life has to offer. Be progressive for yourself and for your people. It’s been a long time coming. As Obama stated “These things can only be accomplished if we each take responsibility of our actions” . To all the other races, learn to love us. You bleed and we bleed. I don’t care what negativity you might see. Things change by each human moving forward in education, knowledge, and love “At the end of the ages, we all go back to the earth” . Long with no regrets – and yes, I would be love to have the opportunity to speak with opportunity to speak with the urban youth of NYC.

  • Tim

    Dr. Gates, I salute you, you have done an excellent job. It is so enlightening to get a glimpse of the history of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba. I can’t wait to see the documentary on Brazil, and based on most of the comments on this website it seems that I’m not the only person who is impressed by your work. Bravo, Dr. Gates, bravo. That being said, I’m somewhat dismayed by the few scatted comments that seemed to take offense to you telling the truth. It seems some people are not pleased with having facts presented. It is quite obvious that they prefer to have the pervasive lies spread and dogma be the capstone to historical details, but the truth shall prevail. The truth shall prevail when historical facts are unveiled and cultural nuances are investigated and discussed by scholars such as Dr. Gates. I don’t mean to be preachy. I simply wanted to congratulate Dr. Gates and throw a little shot at the people who wanted to spew out misinformation.

  • Jessy Andres Torbicio

    I’m a Dominican American I found it disappointing, misinterpreted, and biased, He was looking at the Dr and Hati with an American lens the one drop rule which is only accepted in American. Gates didn’t assert we actually have two independence days one the president is elected on Aug 16 and the other is the one where we got our independence form the brutal Haitian occupation (no occupation is nice, just look at LIBERIA, in this situation also its about culture not race) in February 27th.

    Also Gates said he did not find statues or streets or anything else named after blacks, well he missed the statue of Gregorio Luperon, 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? or that the University of Puerto Rico and Lynne Guitar have determined that 15% to 20% of Dominicans have Taino DNA, why not, you proved Oprah had Native American DNA?

    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.

    When it comes to Haitian history (yes we know our entire island’s history ) Gates didnt go into Papa Doc was backed by the USA like Trujillo (School of the Americas) and later Balaguer now the War of 1965 where the USA disposed of Juan Bosch our democratically elected leader which started a civil war, but he was too busy with Haiti, each country deserves its own show and the histories need to be explored and show the complex cultures not put into a pop culture film for the masses whod ont study history like us serious historians. Im sure this week Gates will put Antonio Maceo and jose Marti on a pedestal and try to destroy Fidel (who tried to end Trujillos brutal reign) and Che Guevara who i might add fought for african rights to thier land in the Congo wars, but this is propaganda, and it does what its made to do, be weary and read some of the history on your own.

  • sorsh


    I don’t get it—-why was the mere 22 years that Dominicans were ruled over by the Haitians so much worse than being ruled by the Spanish who brought you to the island in chains AS slaves? You’re basically saying that being enslaved by the Spanish was better than being ruled by the Dominicans,which I find a little hard to believe given the dynamics of how slavery worked–didn’t they beat,whip and enslave your people first? I love the series–I’m a black American woman,BTW–and I can’t wait to see the next installment on Brazil–thank you so much, Prof. Gates. This series is very necessary because here in America we are taught almost next to nothing about the huge impact made by the presence of our brothers & sisters on the history of Latin America itself. Basically, how different can Dominicans be from Haitians seeing as you’re ALL black, and you ALL came over there on the same slave ships? The only differences there seem to be is that Dominicans speak Spanish and were brainwashed to think they were so much better than Haitians merely because they were colonized by a white European power (and y’all swallowed that hook,line & sinker) Haitians speak French and were also colonized (but the self-hate lessons didn’t stick,obviously–thank goodness) and acknowledge their pride in their blackness minus the racist brainwashing.

    The so-called “differences” you speak of are really minor to begin with. It reminds me of how white folks compare black Africans/Carribean immigrants/or immigrants period to black Americans and claim that the former are more hardworking, ambitious and not as lazy as BAs are supposed to be—neatly stepping aside the fact that for nearly 400 years in America, whites tried to strip us of everything (including the right to even be treated like human beings) and made darn sure we would NEVER rise to their level, no matter HOW hard we worked, with racist laws and rules that kept us from getting any education,freedom, or rights to do ANYTHING, period. It’s BS,plain and simple. SO, basically,the bottom line is, you’re ALL black–dosen’t matter what side of the island you’re on!


    What on earth does Prof Gates’ incident with the police have to with ANYTHING on this board,or his series? You sound ridiculous–the man has been making very good informative documentaries for years–his whole career and life do NOT boil down to ONE single,blown way out of proportion incident that happened to him—that was TWO years ago–get over it! I still believe he was in the right,regardless—he should not have been arrested because he had NOT committed a crime,flat out. And the police officer had NO reason to arrest him at all. Since you would rather hate on anyone Obama-affiliated than actually watch a well-made PBS program from which you could learn some fascinating history, just go ahead and stay ignorant then–that’s YOUR problem.

    @Javier Balmoral-Medina

    The program is focused on BLACK people in Latin America, not White People in Latin America. Since we here in America rarely see anything on the former, this program is welcome, because you’d think there were NO black people in LA at all, since they’re completely ignored by the media up here,too. So can we watch at least ONE show that dosen’t focus on white people for a change, like 99% of U.S. media? Thank you!

  • Catalina L Velasquez

    I enjoyed the serious and will be watching tonight on channel 13 at 8:00pm this will educate a lot of people.
    Thank you
    God Bless
    Catalina L Velasquez

  • John Simmons

    When Florida was Spanish, St. Augustine had a significant free black population, that mixed with Indians fleeing General Andrew Jackson. many blacks and Indians fled to Cuba, Bahamas, Some to Oklahoma, and Mexico. its like our history was erased after becoming an aMerican territory in 1821. Jane. landers has several books on the subject, as she went thru the Spanish archives and reconstructed St. Augustine. my point is that we should look at Florida as part of. LatinAmerica, as it was Spanish for 250 years, and many of our black residents that fled to Cuba or the. Bahamas came back 150 years later. Anyone interested in the history of the Black Seminoles can read JohnHorse dot com.

    I lived in Recife Brazil for. A year in college. it is amazing that the city of Palmares did not have one historical marker back then’ and still may not. Palmares was a Quilombo, community of former slaves, roughly 50,000 habitants, allowed to flourish during the Jewish/Dutch rule of NE Brazil in the 1600s. I believe there is not one black congressman in Brazil, and the few black governors, Pitta, Beneditta da Silva, all left in disgrace.

  • Fernando

    I’m white, of Portuguese background and know Brazil quite well. I’ve just finished watching the Brazilian segment of Black In Latin America and I’d like to commend Prof. Gates for his analysis of the racial situation in Brazil: It’s spot on.

    Brazil is a nation where the different races have intermingled, intermarried and coexisted in a harmonious fashion, for hundreds of years. In Brazil, there isn’t the same level of interpersonal distrust and animosity between the races that you find in many English-speaking countries. However, structural and institutionalized racism is today, much worse in that country than in the United States. One rarely finds black, or even mulato, faces in the Brazilian media, on advertisements and as the public faces of its institutions. Also, when one examines the face of the ruling economic and political elites, one invariably finds that they are overwhelmingly white… much more so than in the U.S.

    The most lamentable aspect of this situation is that many Brazilians, both white and non-white, fail to see this as a problem. I was in Brazil during the debates regarding the imposition of their university “affirmative action” programs and heard opposition from even some of the black students, who felt that this might sour the racial harmoniousness of Brazilian society. They also questioned how one would be able to define “black” for the purposes of affirmative action, in a country where nearly everyone had some black ancestry.

    The only critique that I may have of this episode, would be that Prof. Gates failed to explore how Brazil’s structural racism in the 20th century has its roots in the intense capitalist exploitation, which has marked Brazilian society of the last 100 years.

    Brazil has historically been a nation which has afforded great opportunity and wealth for individuals and companies and also one which has traditionally modeled itself after the United States. As such, much of Brazil’s public image of itself is portrayed through its industries, media and companies. In a country where the vast majority of its proportionately small 40 million plus middle-class and ruling elite are white, Brazilian institutions, media and industries are almost completely geared towards serving and selling products to this small minority of the population. These companies and institutions also copy their U.S. models of the 1950’s and 60’s, by rigorously portraying an image of white, middle-class success, and avoiding showing non-whites in their adverts or programing, or even promoting non-whites to positions of visibility and responsibility. This was the American capitalist model of selling goods and services, which they have copied from the U.S. In Brazil, associating white faces to one’s firm is making the statement that it is successful, multinational and “like” an American enterprise, while relying on non-white faces is making the statement that the company is lower-status, poor and more “Brazilian” than American.

    Thus, Brazilian structural racism is really a quintessential practice and reality of American (U.S.) commercial enterprises of the mid 20th-century, and Brazil’s capitalist elite and their commercial enterprises of the last 60 or so years have simply modeled themselves on their American neighbors.

    Despite this critique, I reiterate that Prof. Gates has produced a very balanced and realistic portrayal of Brazilian society.

  • Viviana

    As a Colombian mestiza, I’m delighted to see how your documentary uncovers racism and discrimination in contemporary Latin America. It’s often thought that blacks in Latin America are not discriminated against because Latinos are all “dark” skinned anyways; however, there are obvious inequalities between black and white Colombians.You should visit the towns and cities sorrounding our coasts, which were the ports of entry for eslaves, to see for yourself the extent of socio-economic disparities between black, indian, and white Colombians.So, I thank you Professor Gates for making these series.I believe that to end racial discrimination abroad and in the U.S.A the different levels of racism must be exposed(Internalized, institutional, and personal).


    Dr. Gates
    After having viewed the first three episodes of this series, I would like to send my heartiest congratulations. I look forward to the fourth installment and hope you will be able to expand your explorations in the future. Many people writing here have pointed out that there are a lot of people of African descent in almost all Latin American countries.
    I watched the “Brazil — a Racial Paradise” this evening and I learned a lot, even though I have studied Brazil for many years. Gilberto Freyre was my introduction to the history of slavery in Brazil.
    Did any of the people you interviewed mention Palmares, a settlement of runaway slaves in 1600s Brazil that lasted for 64 years?
    Thank you for your good work.


    TBC 617

  • Steve

    I really appreciated this documentary. I am a black U.S. citizen that has traveled extensively through South and Central and America including Brazil. As an african-american I was amazed to see how blacks in the U.S. , Caribbean, Central and South America and Brazil share a common ancestry & cultural origins. Though not Hispanic I have spent many years in the hispanic community. Most Hispanics and Brazilians are taught and seem to believe that the U.S. is racists and their countries are not. Or that the Racism in the US is worse than in South and Central America. I couldn’t disagree more. The difference is that American blacks rose up and fought for equality something that seems to have never happened in the south and central america. The united States is the only place where black people really get any real respect. Respect = Employment & Wealth.
    Unfortunately, it seems that just like in a school yard, a kid that is picked on will continue to get picked on and bullied until he stands up for himself and fights for his place in society=Earns respect.

    Racism deniers point to how in Latin america people intermarry. Yes, poor light-skinned Hispanics do marry poor dark skinned Hispanics, which proves nothing. In my opinion this is all not mostly about skin color but economics and controlling power and wealth. Non-whites are easily or can become the majority in most of the American countries. Increasing wealth of a non-white population will result in the white population losing wealth, power, and control. And some fear this—others do not.

    I have never been to a country in Latin America and heard a black person tell me that they are treated the same and have the same opportunities as the lighter skinned citizens of their country. The issue of race just makes many white people uncomfortable and they often attempt to dismiss it by saying that either we are all “La Raza”-Mexico (which means nothing) or by claiming as in the case of Brazil that there is no racism here (which is absurd). I could argue that the majority of the white community in the US is far LESS rascist than the white community in most latin american countries, because whites have proved more willing to share the wealth with blacks. There are many Blacks in high level jobs and government positions in the US (supreme court, president, etc.). In South and Central America . . not so much.

    It seems that many darker skinned people in South/Central America have chosen the route of lets try to pretend racism doesn’t exists and hope it goes away. Whereas blacks in America confronted it head on. I believe the approach in the U.S. has proved far more beneficial for all non-white people in the U.S. and in South and Central America. True, some white americans are very racists and they will proclaim it openly. However, it is also true that many hispanics although they would never call themselves racist do consider blackness and black traits to be inferior to whiteness and white traits, and would not be very happy if their light-skinned son/daughter married a dark-skinned person. Thus, the common spanish expression “mejorar la raza” which applies when a non-white hispanic marries someone with white features.

    All in all racism is a tough subject to deal with. I thought the documentary was a good start at dealing with the issue in cultures where it seems to have never really been dealt with in depth. The fact that an American had to do it to me further illustrates that there seem to be few Blacks in the hispanic world who have the respect, resources, and ability to bring a great deal of attention to this subject. So once again I say I am certainly glad that my ancestors’ slave ship landed in the U.S.

  • C L Donnell

    It is important not to overlook the Brazilian saying “O dinheiro embranquece” or “money whitens” .

  • Natalia

    Thank you Dr. Gates! Thank you so much for bringing out the real Latin America and openning a forum for discussion on the issue. I am an Asian born in Latin American and understand first hand the reality of race and class in the Southern cone. I truly appreciate your research in an area that is very little known and discussed both here the U.S. and Latin America.

  • Richard Pagan

    Dr Gates

    Thank you so Much for this series, My Mom is from Costa Rica and my Dad is from Puerto Rico. I was Raised By My mom in Harlem , Ny My Dad was not around I have this reverse thing going I am very light skined but most people in my family are mulato but I feel in my soul That I do have African blood. I not only associate this with my growing up in harlem and having alot of positve black role models , but also the fact that my mom would send me to Limon costa rica were she was from it a Costa Rican provence inhabited by people of African decent . As a child I allways noticed and hated the attitude the people of the capital San jose had toward the people of Limon. Its still syands to this day divide an concur. I really wish I can get a dna test to find my african roots and if it comes out that I dont have african blood I can tell you this I have an African soul and Heart god bless….. Im proud to be Black !!!!

  • Alex Montesino

    I am a great fan of Dr. Gates, but I think he lets Cuba off pretty lightly. There has been and continues to be endemic and virulent racism in Cuba. Its just not acknowledged or talked about because the mostly white, mostly upper middle class government elite that has remained in power for 52 years decided long ago that racism had been eradicated by the revolution, so there was no need ever to mention it again. Meanwhile, darker skinned, kinky haired Cubans with African features remain at the bottom of the social and economic ladder. According to anthropologists from the European Union: “racism in Cuban is systemic and institutional.Black people are systematically excluded from positions in tourism related jobs, where they could earn tips in hard currencies. According to the EU study, black people are relegated to poor housing, complained of the longest waits for healthcare, were excluded from managerial positions, received the lowest remittances from relatives abroad, and were five times more likely to be imprisoned.” Worst of all is the lack of freedom to openly discuss these problems. Black Cuban’s are expected to be grateful to the revolution, and this means that if you are black
    and don’t support the regime, you are doubly a traitor. Jorge Luis García Pérez, who was imprisoned for 17 years, states “The authorities in my country have never tolerated that a black person oppose the regime. During the trial, the color of my skin aggravated the situation. Later when I was mistreated in prison by guards, they always referred to me as being black”.

    More and more Cuban dissidents today are black or mulatto like Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet. Dr. Biscet was given a 25-year prison sentence in Cuba for allegedly committing crimes against the sovereignty and the integrity of the Cuban territory. He was released in March 2011, with the hope that he would emigrate.(the Cuban government’s ultimate weapon against dissidents is to send them to Miami or Madrid where they become irrelevant to the struggle for change inside Cuba.) Still, it is wonderful to see Afro-Cubans taking an active role in this struggle.

    In 1959, most of the groups that had been fighting Batista were made up of white middle and upper middle class University Students. The Castro brothers themselves come from a wealthy family in Oriente province. Batista, who was mulatto, was as hated for his race as for his corruption and brutality. He was so despised by the upper classes that he was denied membership in the exclusive “Havana Yacht Club” because of his race-never mind that he was the President of the Republic. Much of the ridiculous (and illegal) institutional racism before the revolution had to do with the tourism industry Mostly from the heavily segregated US of the 1950’s. So Blacks could stay at the Hotel Nacional in the off season, but were sent to other hotels during the high season lest their presence offend any racist guest from the US.

    When I went to Cuba in 2002, I stayed at the Hotel Nacional with my mom. Although at the time, Cubans living in Cuba weren’t allowed to stay in tourist hotels, or even go up to the rooms, my mom’s blond, light-eyed cousin and my Italian looking cousin were never stopped or questioned. And although my mom and I are darker skinned we were never harassed by security. That changed when we came back from a day at the beach. My skin went from light cafe au lait to brown chocolate mocha and suddenly everyone wanted to know my name and room number. In the hallway to my room I was summoned by security: psst….psst …..companero ( comrade) Nombre y numero de cuarto?” My mom and her cousin had a good laugh, saying security hadn’t recognized the darker me and probably thought I was “un mulatto jinetero” (a mulatto, male prostitute) going to show those two old broads a good time. In Cuba, after 52 years of sacrifice and cataclysmic social and economic upheaval, The old French proverb still applies: “Le plus ca change, le plus c’est la meme chose” ( The more things change, the more they stay the same.)

  • Maricarmen

    In this interview, the Professor Henry Louis mentioned Peru and Mexico as countries with an immense black population. Although, he only mentions Mexico and its cities that had the most slaves in the 1600’s, he did not share thoughs of Peru and its black culture. I would like a little more of information about this country, as he is giving more condensed info of other countries. Despite Peru and Mexico were important civiliztions in the begining of the colonization, There are a big differences between Incas and Aztecas,and the way they managed their kingdoms. As Peruvian, Aztecas have more similarities with the Mayan culture. I also considere that Professor Henry Lous should add other islands as Puerto Rico or Jamica, as part of his investigation, due to this places have an incredible black population. It’s true that our Latin countries, have segregated blacks, and that our authorities have never done anything to equal the races. But from my point of view I would like a little more of compact data, if black -latin racisim will be in a documental. Therefore, this will interesting to watch.

  • Enrique Gonzalez

    Steve, You said you have been “traveling extensively through South and Central and America” but it looks that you keep eating at McDonald’s and having your coffee at Starsbucks. If only “poor” people in Latin America intermarry, that makes more than 60% of the population! A clear majority! And it is precisely those people that make a country, not the oligarchs that govern us and the media they control. If you have been watching this series you should known that blacks in Latinamerica have fought for their own, and others peoples, liberty, well before the blacks in the USA have done so. The civil rights movement is just one of the most recent, in a series of movements for HUMAN freedom. I do not know what are you being doing traveling in Latinamerica; not business (since it doesn’t look you know how to count) nor studying (since doesn’t look you have learn a lot about the places you have visited) but I think It will be good for you to stop looking at other places through the glasses of the white american man.

  • Ms.M

    “It’s useless to look at another culture through an Americanized lens”

  • Beliza

    Beautiful and insightful documentary. Hopefully you can include Puerto Rico too in a future series, where according to the census 80%+ of the population is white, yet it is not!
    However a question: Is really the so called “democracy” and capitalism what we wish for Cuba’s future? Or for ours? And for it to be the US favorite tourism destination?!!! Capitalism is not working for us, and this crisis is the best prove of it. We also have lessons to learn from Cuba! We all need and deserve social justice!!!

  • silvano gallego

    WHAT ABOUT Colombia?????????

  • Medical Angels Network

    Greetings Dr. Gates,
    What a wonderful series and thank you PBS for supporting this excellent journey, especially highlighting the true undercurrent of how neighbors in close proximity feel toward different groups in the society. I have learned quite a bit about the areas during your exciting videographical travels -far more than I have read in print.

    There will be a historical event in September 2011 in Cap Haitian, Haiti, a 30 year anniversary, you may be quite interested. This celebration will include the Citadelle Henry Christophe and University Roi Henri Christophe. Medical Angels Network conducted a pediatric mission as friends of the University recently in April and will return in the fall to conduct another pediatric mission with the University Roi Henri Christophe.

    Blessings Dr. Gates and PBS for all that you do to keep us enlightened and engaged!


    Sherry Sterling R.N.,CCRC
    Medical Angels Network Inc.

    I would like to invite you join me during this most significant event. Many of the countries dignitaries will be in attendance and Honorary degrees will be presented to some of the countries most infuential Present and Past .

  • C Luna

    I’m thoroughly enjoying the series. I just wish that all native speakers could have been heard in their own voice and language rather than inserting English voice overs. It did a disservice to everyone who speaks Spanish and Portugese. It would have been amazing to hear the true voices and use English subtitles instead.

  • Marcia Henry

    Just today I sent an email to Dr Gates about a documentary of my country of Panama. I wish I had read the info on this site prior to writing the email. I’ve seen 2 of the series, & will certainly consider purchasing the series. I’ve seen them by surfing the channels. I will certainly set the alarm for tonight’s. It’s interesting how similar all these countries are when it comes on the line of its Blacks,. I thought I knew facts of different countries, but I’ve been enlightened. Thank you for your work. If I have to go knocking on doors to get funding, please let me know. I have no qualms asking for money when it’s for a good cause! Keep up the good work of bringing the issue of race to the world; as we know, many want to keep their heads buried in the sand, or the issue locked in the closet. Thank you, PBS.

  • Marcia Henry

    Just today I sent an email to Dr Gates about a documentary of my country of Panama. I wish I had read the info on this site prior to writing the email. I’ve seen 2 of the series, & purchased the series. I knew about them by surfing the channels. It’s interesting how similar all these countries are when it comes on the line of its Blacks. I thought I knew facts of different countries, but I’ve been enlightened. Thank you for your work. If I have to go knocking on doors to get funding, please let me know. I have no qualms asking for money when it’s for a good cause! Keep up the good work of bringing the issue of race to the world; as we know, many want to keep their heads buried in the sand, or the issue locked in the closet. Thank you, PBS.

  • Dario Techera

    You left Uruguay out? its a shame Montevideo-Uruguay is rich in African culture ;|

  • KarenM

    I am so disappointed with this series. I keep watching it hoping that it will get better.

    Dr. Gates seemed to have gone into this endeavor with a huge chip on his shoulder and with his American lens glued to his face. I agree with previous posters that he comes off as smug, arrogant and ethnocentric. It is hard to take him seriously after the incident with the Harvard police escalated so much so that the US president decided to intervene. Of course his dishonest ‘inquiry’ into what it means to be black in Latin America does not help his effort.

    I spent most of my life in the Caribbean and know first hand that racial, social and economic relations are much different than those in the US. Because someone has black ancestors does not make them black!! Dr. Gates needs to take the advice of some of the people he interviewed in Peru (particularly the professor he seemed to closely identify with) and focus on issues that really help people.

  • Melvin Marsh

    This is truly wonderful is there plan to visit and air more programs about black populations in the other Latin America counties?


    First of all, my condolences to Professor Gates on the passing of his father.

    This is wonderful! I loved reading all the comments that have been submitted pro and con so far regarding the Blacks in Latin America Series.
    People of “Color” have had either very little voice or no OPPORTUNITY, on such an international scale (PBS), to dissect or dicuss African or Indegenious peoples plights around the world.
    I, for example, wished Dr. Gates would have gone to Trinidad or Jamaica West Indies to do a few segments. These places are melting pots of many different people, and would have hit home more for me than the other places he chose to visit. Note: chose to visit. One man, four hours, funding. (Read his comments).
    Lets not loose sight of the need for personal information from the people who have lived these situations, such as yourselves, who have first hand information that needs to be submitted to the Professor Gates’ of the world, and to web sites such as these. This way we can have intelligent, non-biased and emotional discussions about ourselves, and the information will get passed on, and put in the MAIN STREAM MEDIA for other cultures, races, religions and countries to be EXPOSED to and absorb.
    Good Work Dr. Gates, the series was well done!! You can’t please everyone!!

  • Rigoberto M. Lopez

    Dr. Gates,
    I am very happy to see that you have taken the time and effort to examine the issue of “blackness” in Latin America. This is a subject that is often avoided in most of our countries ( I am from Panama), in spite of our presence and contributions to the growth and development of the region.
    I have watched and enjoyed every installment of the series and wish that there had been one on Argentina ( a country that is perceived by most as being the most “European” in Latin America), where the African presence was significant in the 18th and 19th centuries. Nevertheless, I plan to purchase the book and/or dvd. to add to my library.

  • Carlos M Flores




  • Hawj

    Professor Gates asked in the documentary something similar to this, “If George Washington was black would we still need the civil rights?” Yes, and yes again wherever there’s injustice, inequality and oppression. The evil of mankind is beyond merely racial bias.

  • Mary Lou

    I watched this series and was excited about its content until I heard Professor Gates make a claim that DNA can tell you the ‘race’ of an individual. I participated in a course/workshop at Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, for educators called “Rethinking Race’, where they taught us that DNA can not determine the ‘race’ of anyone. In this course I learned that ‘race’ is a social concept not a scientific one. So I am confused by hearing another professor tell us that his findings determined the ‘race’ of a gentleman on his show, “Black in Latin America.” Not only one ‘race’, but several ‘races’ were found, according to Professor Gates, to be present through the gentleman’s DNA! I do not understand how an institution, Hampshire College, can teach one thing and then a wonderful program like “Black in Latin America” tells us the complete opposite. Please–can you help clarify this discrepancy?

  • Howard

    I’ve enjoyed professor Gates work for many years and this current series is just as rich and informative, however for me it only raises a big question. Why has it been so important for Europens to cut Africans out of the global economy and where did this ideology begin? And more importantly how can this ideology be stopped?

    It seems as though the more African you are the less entitled you are to basic human rights and the right to earn wealth. Thusly, nobody wants to be associated with Africa or Africans. It has to be deeper than skin color.

  • Debra

    Thank you Dr Gates and PBS for this series. Also, I am learning even more about this subject from some of the very knowledgeable people who are leaving comments here. I hope viewers of this program will continue to use this forum to help people like me (from the U.S.) learn more about Blacks in Latin America.

  • R.E.Yates

    A very interesting and informative series.

    I particularly enjoyed the segment on Mexico and the Costa Chica area.

    Back in 1957 as a young man hiking through Mexico and Central America, I was in Acapulco and was warned by local Mexican authorities not to travel down through the Costa Chica area because there were black people living there who were “savages” and “cannibals”. I was told that if I got into any troubles with “los negritos”, that I couldn’t expect any assistance from Mexican authorities. Yes, racism was well established against the afro-Mexicans. Because of these warnings I never did visit the Costa Chica area.

    I would like to have seen a segment on the afro latin americans living along the east coast of Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Their history is fascinating, especially the Caribs or Garifuna of Belize. Belize has such a polygot of races, and they all seem to be living in peaceful co-existence.

    My first wife was Belizean and she was a mixture of English, Scottish, African, Mayan Indian, and Spanish ancestory.

    There should be some additional funding available for expanding the series to the Central America countries.

  • David Ramireza

    This was a totally one sided misrepresentation. That there are Black Africans in all the Americas is not a new revelation. The Black Grandmother in the closet was a particularly offensive term to a culture that loves and respects family.
    The Moors who lived in the Iberian Peninsula were not Black Africans. One can see their likeness painted on the walls of the Alhambra.
    PBS has done a disservice with this distorted report.

  • hausa mann

    Loved every minute of all four episodes. I have been a student of “us” in the U.S. and Africa since childhood – the teachers would throw me out of the adult section of the library (that’s where the “black history” books were…I’m as pumped up as I was when Ali A. Mazuri’s “The Africans” came out, and when “Eyes on the Prize” came out (sad about Juan Williams losing his soul though). I got peeps in Latin America too? Wow, my world has expanded and I feel even more powerful.

    Great job Dr. Gates – you be da man!

  • Alex

    While I appreciate that this series is covering a subject oft overlooked, I feel like the episodes I have seen thus far have been somewhat conclusory in nature and suffering from a very blatant agenda. I’d rather see some of the issues left for the viewer to answer, rather than be inevitably led to pasture by Dr. Gates. The episode on Brazil was particularly frustrating. Race relations are so very complicated there, and for most of the program I marveled at the amount of ground Dr. Gates was able to cover in such a short period of time. But in the last ten minutes, suddenly there was a tonal change. In the end, we were told that since poor blacks live in slums, that racism clearly exists, and that being the case, all the nuances and intricacies we’d been looking at over the past 40 minutes meant nothing. Suddenly we were told that since Brazil is racist, it needs to counter it through the proliferation of affirmative action. The End. Realizing that of course Dr. Gates has an agenda, and that one hour is a short amount of time with which to examine the history of blacks in any country, I still wish the program would stay more historical, sociological and analytical, rather than feel the need to inject political advocacy where it is probably unnecessary considering the audience.

  • Renee C

    I met some wonderful Black people in Venezuela, Columbia, Chile and Ecuador. I hope Dr. Gates includes these countries in the next documentary.

  • vickie williams

    Good evening. I would like to say to Professor Gates, a job well done. I liked that you showed that blacks mixed with other races instead of only whites as sometimes believed. I always read history books where slaves ran away into Mexico to escape slavery, and I always believed that this was possible. I also enjoyed African American lives 1 & 2. This goes to show Americans just how intertwined we all are. A lot of those stories hit home for people I know in and outside of my family. It was very moving to see the lack of human kindness , but also the compassion some of the white owners had to protect some of their black slaves. Professor Gates if you ever decided to do another African American lives, could you do a segment on Black in Native America, by tracing black peoples DNA to their Native American heritage. Black indians are considered non-existent, which is not true. I would like to see if you could show this, so that the world know we do exist. There are a lot of black people in the south that contain Native American DNA. Also during the reign of the 5 civilized tribes , Native people (not all) owned slaves. There is even documented evidence in the cherokee tribe of a cheorkee slave owener named shoe boots who fathered children with his african slave. He also fought for 2 of his childrens right to cherokee citizenship and won. Also there are many black indian slave narratives that tell compelling stories of growning up under the ownership of Native slave masters. The seminole tribes of Florida is very evident of the mixture between Africans and Indians. I’ve read that the second seminole war was started with the capture of Chief Oseceola’s black creek wife Che-cho-ter (morning dew) by slave catchers. You might know about this, but I think the topic of Black & Native in america would be a good title. This would also show that black people do not make up stories of being part indian. It’s hard to prove in the south during the jim crow days that you were black indian, because you were considered colored or mulatto which was not true. A good place to start would be with the Lumbee tribe of North Carolina, or down in Florida with the Seminole tribes. Just a thought.

  • D Phillip

    It’s amazing how everyone is commenting on how the native indians or the tainos or whoever else was not included in the documentary. The title of the series is Blacks in Latin America. It doesn’t discount the presence of other cultures. The comments actually support what is being said. Most people openly acknowledge the other cultures, but usually hesitate to give any credit to their blackness. Dr. Gates, thank you for bringing this to the fore. And for those that want to focus on other aspects of their culture, we look forward to you producing your own series. :)

  • Lilian Zavala

    I enjoyed the episode about Mexico and Peru; nonetheless, nothing new was offered. I’d had like that professor Gates had done his homework and show the results!!

  • Andrea

    Dr Gates I hope you do a documentary of my country, Belize. I have been watching the series, & will certainly be purchasing the DVDs . It’s quite interesting how similar all these countries are when it comes to the Blacks culture and Identification. I thought I knew a lot about different countries, but I have been enlightened. Thank you for your great body of work! Keep up the excellent work of bringing the issue of race relations in and to the world. I am appreciative that someone is forging this conversation. Thank you Dr. Gates and PBS.

  • Yanique

    This is a great series, very informative. Everyone will have a different perspective on it. There are many critics but not many have been contributors on this scale. The story of the African diaspora deserves to be told and PBS has done an excellent job.
    Regardless of who is black and who is not (taking directly to those up in arms about racial categorization in Mexico and DR) this is a story to honor the millions carried away captive to the west from Africa, and to research what happened to their descendants. Should we pretend that they didn’t come that they didn’t exist they died out because their descendants are mixed? Even animals have that dignity, they research what animals were evolved from dinos. Don’t stories like Commander Dreke in Cuba have a place? Don’t let your own bitterness keep other from learning.

  • Natalie Madriz

    A great series, thank you for shedding light on this population and offering the rich history behind it. Although I know you had to choose certain countries to cover, but you totally omitted the Central American region. Hopefully in the future you can do a part 2 including this region.

  • Nefertiti Bey

    Hello Dr Gates I really enjoyed the documentary on Blacks in Latin America. I hope we all can see that we are all connected to each other. I sat down and I watched and I began to cry. It is good to know who we really are not blacks but as a people of brown and yellow skin and a people of peace and love. Thank you Dr Gates and PBS. And may Yehoshua let you all continue your quest of knowing who we as a people really are.

  • Enrique Gonzalez

    Mary Lou

    The course you took at Hampshire College was right, there is no such thing as “race”. We all are members of the human species. Race is a social concept not a biological one. Some people, long time ago, decided that human with different skin color were different. B.S.! The problem is that some people in power uses that ridiculous idea to divide and confront people. That’s why Dr Gates position is terrible bad. He insists that there is such thing as a “Black race” and buys it without questioning the idea that a drop of “black” blood makes you “black”; just as the white masters said. In the XXI century and spreading such fascists ideas! One may have cultural heritage if that was preserved, but unfortunately the slave masters deleted much of such heritage in the slaves (A most terrible crime) and it is frankly ridiculous to claim an “african heritage” if one does not know really anything about its african roots! Are we going to claim Swahili as our heritage? The language imposed by arabs on “black” africans?

  • George Gutz

    This documentary has brought out many interesting points about all these fabulous countries and their culture, nevertheless, it shows clearly that the intention of doing it is subjective and bios from the eye of the making beholder. Mr. Gates obviously seems to be favoring the cultures where less grace has been given and diminishing those where their is more grace, as if his main intention was to redeem the black race in Latin America. To give a clear example of the point that I am making: Mr. Gates makes several mistakes in trying to glorify the situation in Haiti versus trying to diminish and ridicule that of the Dominican Republic, when, in fact, the situation in the Dominican Republic is and has been less stressful, much less racist than any other country where there is a black ancestry and therefore more enjoyable for each of its citizens, just as its history and the obvious reality the Dominican people live.
    The one who wrote this opinion has a background in Sociology, Anthropology and Theology as well as in Law. having expressed those thoughts demonstrate no type of bios or subjective thoughts or intentions, only telling the truth and being objective.
    P.S. By the way another mistake made or expressed by Mr. Gates was when he said at the introduction of the documentary that the Dominican people and the Haitian people has shared the island for 5 century; in reality, when Spain discovered the island 5 centuries ago, in 1492, and named it Hispaniola in honor to the Spanish crown, there were no African slaves, nor french speaking or creole speaking people in the island. the people of what became Haiti only 2 centuries ago, in the first decade of the 1800’s, were brought there by France from Africa, only a little less than a century from its independence; meaning that the people of Haiti have only been there just about 3 centuries, that is 2 centuries short from what Mr. Gates mentioned. Another factor that Mr. Gates intentionally overlooked, is the fact that the Dominican people are a rainbow of colors, as he himself mentioned while filming in the Dominican side, is because the original indigenous people of the island, the Tainos, became part of that mixture, allowing their genes to become part of that marvelous new race that was created when the Europeans mixed with the Tainos first and then added the Africans and last every other race that has immigrated through out those 5 centuries (Arabs, Jewish, Indians, Japanese, Chinese) to name a few, and that is exactly how these beautiful new race came to exist without major prejudiced feelings as in other places, and being the first one of its kind in the world by the grace of God, who makes everything possible. In conclusion, my point is just to make an objective contribution and perhaps, as a result, skin away prejudice feelings, subjective thoughts and bios manipulations.
    Yours Truly;

  • Jess

    Dr. Gates I have struggled with the issue for many years and this series has provided me with a sense of relief. Most of my friends and colleagues were ignorant to the ideal of someone of color being anything but American. However, I would love it if you were to travel to my native country of Honduras (trujillo) and explore the Garifuna tribe. My tribe never lost our culture and in fact we still speak the native language from Africa. Again Thank you so very much.

  • Mayra

    I hope you will document about blacks in Puerto Rico, and their contribution to the Island and it’s rich culture. Puerto Rico has a rich history, and like many other countries, we are a mixed race: the indigenous Tainos, the Spanish Conquistadors, and the African Slaves. Please document about Black Puerto Ricans and their contributions, since it’s not widely known.

  • Mary

    I love all your episodes so far including the ones from Wonders of the African World. For the Wonders of the African World, it truly brought light on some of the African history that we are taught in high school. We also learn about the Middle Passage and about slavery. It surprises me when I hear (I’m not sure) that in the US that they aren’t taught this as a part of the curriculum. You definitely should do a show about Belize. Belize is unique in the sense that we have no white elite on top anymore. All our whites intermixed with Africans (even if a Belizean looks white, chances are she/he aren’t 100%.) These blacks are called Creole. In the 70s, Belize was once a predominantly black country. However at that time, many Creoles started to migrant to the US leaving behind their families. Eventually, the black family structure broke down. The children were left with their grandparents or no real parent figure. We have another type of black people and they are called Garifunas. They were never enslaved. This is the only ethnic group that got an official holiday.The mestizos arrived in the country (mostly from Mexico and Honduras) in the 19th century. The people who are on top now are the ones who have worked to be there whether is be black or mestizo. Our current Prime Minister is black and most of the judicial system is as well.

  • debbie

    First of all thank you Prof. Gates. I will like you to do a piece on the Cape Verde islands. I come across a lot of Cape Verdeans in the Boston area, & I’ve never met a group of people who are very confused about who & where they come from. Second there’s & East Indian population (indentured servants) in the Caribbean, where I am from (Trinidad). Racism between the East Indians & Afro Caribbean in this region is very strong, but often kept under the rug. Now there’s a heavy migration of Chinese to all of the Caribbean. So now it’s the East Indians & Chinese vs the Afro Caribbean.

  • sewamouf

    This is in response to Jan, Dr. Gates did not dwelve inside the history of the native indian population because he’s not native indian!!! He’s black, and he was trying to make knowledge of blacks being in Latin America. The series is called “Blacks in Latin America”! Did you watch the series? There are Blacks in those countries who have been there for centuries and they are embarrassed to identify with their blackness. None of those people are ashamed of their “Indian Ancestry”. In fact, they embrace it and show it! And honestly, those people indigenous to those lands are not “Indian”. The only Indians are people from India. The only reason the indigenous people of those lands are recognized as Indians is because of the first explorers like Columbus and Majellan thought they were in India!!! Dont be so quick to criticize Dr. Gates when he was trying to make light of a situation that wants to remain in the dark. The people in Latin America and South America never deny their Native Indigenous heritage but they never embrace their African heritage. They suppress it and in some ways are ashamed of it and Dr. Gates put this out for the world to see that they dont have to be ashamed of their “TOTAL” ethnicity, culture, or heritage.

  • Jose Fuentes

    I find it both interesting and disappointing that Puerto Rico was left out of your documentary. Is it because as part of the United States it is not considered a Latin American country? Before the U.S. illegally occupied Puerto Rico in 1898, Puerto Rico was considered a Latin American country along with Cuba and the Domincan Republic, it’s sisters under Spanish rule.

    Racism prevailed under Spanish rule, for example, in order for a black person too marry a white during colonial times, the black person would have to obtain a letter from the Pope declaring him an “Honorary white.” Also under Spanish rule, white blood would “advance your race,” making it desirable to whiten by marrying white – thus guaranteeing better jobs and opportunity.

    As a dark-skinned Puerto Rican, I am proud of my “negritude” and African heritage. But I disagree with Luis Diaz-Benitez, above, who says that in Puerto Rico, “… all of us are proud of our African roots.” This is simply not true because I’ve experienced racial discrimination by Puerto Ricans both in Puerto Rico and in NY. It’s just not politically correct to admit racism and/or many people are in denial.

    My experience has been different from the self-described “Puerto Rican mulatta” who calls herself “Bronxarican” – at a very young age I became aware of racial differences because my “white” Puerto Rican mother was ostracized by her family for marrying a black Puerto Rican although her own father was also black as was her maternal grandfather who, although black, hated blacks.

    Even now, when President Obama may become the first President in over 50 years to visit Puerto Rico, there are threats of rioting because many people on the island don’t want “El Presidente negro” going over there. When it comes to race, politics and religion, we Puerto Ricans are a mess.

  • Moor

    Why is Mr. Gates always doing show’s on black slavery and mistreatment. Its as if he trying to convey to Africans and the rest of the world that blacks were weak and infeior doomed to be conquered and exploited by there superior light white brethern. I would like to see him do a seris on the Moors and how they conquered spain and parts of Europe. The Ashnte empire or the Zimbabwee and how it was a beautiful land during its heyday. How about black in indian (native american) culture who actually were dark skinned and not runaway slave like like the Olmecs who lived in mexico. the Olmec africanoid heads can be found to this day in Mexico. In stead, Mr. Gates tell people that black were indeed not indian and those who are indian are former slaves when in fact blacks have a deep history with tribalisim and share many traits with native americans that strecth back to Africa and are still being practice today in Africa. It is my hope that in future episodes Mr. Gates begins to focus on the great things Africans have accomplished and the contributions we given to society and tell the whole truth of blacks in America and that truth is we did not strictly come to this country on a slave boat. We came here on our own merit and were free because we could prove we were free men from our country or by treaty from our native status.

  • Benno Cavatini-O’Neill, San Juan, PR

    When I saw the promos for this “documentary”, I programmed the TV/DVR to record it. I returned from my business trip to Ireland, Corsica and Mallorca, Spain, where I maintain business and family connections of over 100 years of family immigration to Puerto Rico.

    And so, after checking in with the office and unpacking, I turned on the TV to watch this program.

    WOWWWWWW, WHAT a crashing disappointment to see this ill-informed, bigoted, biased and totally naive and childish, but typically (North) American interpretation of the reality of others in OTHER social, cultural and racial contexts.

    Gates only proved what I saw repeatedly during my undergraduate, graduate and professional school years in the American Ivy League, that American Blacks have not only been duped by their white slavers but now have sunk to levels so low in their myopic “interpretation” of the experience of others “BECAUSE WE SAY SO”. How NON-intelligent, NON-aware and NOT-inspired of Gates. What a catastrophe he proved himself to be over and over again. And to think that he was “given” a PhD, which only proves the level of fake “scholarship” a clown like him has produced to get to sit on massah’s lap and now to dance in front of massah’s camera. What a DISGRACE!

    For him to continue to play his patronizing and oh-so-superior absurd American negro race games with others who do NOT embrace American institutionalized hypocrisy, HISTORIC racial delusion of the 1-drop rule (which at best is a very sadly informed perspective on which to base ANY racial identity), ONLY proves Gates’ pathetically provincial, lap-dog of the Ivy League sock-puppet perspective. The viewer could have learned more about Blacks in Latin America by watching old re-runs of “Chico and the Man” or “Miami Vice”.

    The USA and its “expert” (Gates) are in NO position to comment, criticize or even attempt the most superficial “analysis” of the racial reality of ANY culture or society outside of its borders. Really now, race stupidity in the USA has reached zenith levels and is now so entrenched that it is not even questioned. And Gates naivete could only be believed by equally inferior minds. How sad and what a missed opportunity to truly inform the world about something he knew and continues to know so little about. And no amount of Gates’ gratuititous “brotha” comments could make up for his appalling lack of insight and sensitivity to the FACT that Blacks, Whites, Asians and others around the world DO NOT buy-into the naive, ignorant and hypocritical race games that Americans embrace so hysterically without question.

    What a total disappointment to watch this program, as I hoped that the next minute might bring something more informative and inspired than just another self-indulgent snippet of Gates’ fake insight into race dynamics that he has NO possibility of understanding EVER! He was truly a sad figure to watch.

    He needs to go back on the Oprah show to celebrate his fake Whiteness. It is almost as equally offensive as his feeble attempt to embrace the “blackness” of others that he will NEVER comprehend. What a colossal waste of video-tape.

    Gates you should be ashamed of your pompous, posturing self. But then again American whites still love their house negro especially when he dances to their racist tunes and reinforces a race mythology invented by toothless, illiterate, syphilitic slave owners in the American South that are STILL the foundation of American’s racial matrix.

    And what a disgrace so many on this thread applaud this charlatan like trained seals at the zoo balancing balls on their noses. Really sad.

    Que verguenza payaso, pero nada mas se podia esperar de un negro vendido en los estados, y aun mono te quedaste cafre.

  • Medina-Olivetti, San Juan, PR

    ay Mayra,
    y tu esposo blanco ‘onde ’sta?

  • Annika4

    As a (multi-racial) Puerto Rican, I am very disappointed that you neglected Puerto Rico your series, especially since it’s multi-racial populace is still being marginalized by the U.S. This is a great book to get you started on the history of Puerto Rico :( 4th edition/ Jan 2008)

    The Puerto Ricans: A Documentary History by Kal Wagenheim and Olga Jimenez de Wagenheim

    ISBN-10: 1558764763
    ISBN-13: 978-1558764767

  • Lenny Mejia Garizao

    Year 1
    Cartagena, Colombia
    Simon Bolivar
    Entry port to South America

    Need say no more 1517

    After the failed effort to found Antigua del Darién in 1506 by Alonso de Ojeda and the subsequent unsuccessful founding of San Sebastian de Urabá in 1517 by Diego de Nicuesa, the southern Caribbean coast became unattractive to colonizers, who preferred the better known Hispaniola and Cuba.[8]

    Though the Casa de Contratación gave permission to Rodrigo de Bastidas (1460–1527) to again conduct an expedition as adelantado to this area, Bastidas explored the coast and discovered the Magdalena River Delta in his first journey from Guajira to the south in 1527, a trip that ended in the Urabá Gulf, the location of the failed first settlements. De Nicuesa and De Ojeda noted the existence of a big bay on the way from Santo Domingo to Urabá and the Panama isthmus, and that encouraged Bastidas to investigate.

    Cartagena de Indias Port to South America
    Puerto Colombia la puerta de oro

    The people,music and heritage can still be traced and found today no kevin bacon 6 degrees of separation

  • CeCeMartinez

    I have meet Puerto Ricans blue eyed blond hair or people like Rick Marting embrase their Afro Latino culture, but i have yet met a Dominican acknowledge their “blackness” why such a complex.

  • Lnwyt

    For descriptive purposes, I am an African American (but I prefer the term Black) with a dark skin tone. I spent time (2+ years) living in Moca, Dominican Republic. It was the worst time of my life and I never want to set foot on its soil ever again. I wish I would have known of the hatred & discrimination there before my travel. And, I’m bilingual English/Spanish and understood every insult hurled at me.

  • manuel

    I think this documentary is amaizing but im dissapointed Puerto Rico was not include. Im a black puertorican man, born,raise and living in the island. African culture its really a STRONG part of puertorican culture as much as it is in Cuba and Dominican Republic… dont know if the relation we have with the states has something to do with our exclusion of the documentary . Puerto Rican culture its a BIG example of a multicultural country, hope to see something soon about it.

  • Enrique Gonzalez

    I don’t understand the Puerto Ricans that are disappointed because their country was not included in the series. You should be happy! You were not the object of the ignorant disparagement, the misplaced disapproval and prejudice of Dr Gates. Haven’t you see the series?

  • Colin Berlinghetti-O’Reilly

    As a Puerto Rican of Corsican, Basque and Irish background, I am very pleased Gates spared us his colossal stupidity and well-documented American race ignorance. But really now, could we have expected more from a smiling negro strolling through this “mock-u-mentary with an English walking stick? The camera crew must have been rolling on the ground hysterical laughing.

    Americans of any racial background should stay home and indulge their race hypocrisy at the KFC or Taco Bell drive-up windows. I could have learned more about blacks in Latin America from a talking Chihuahua at Disneyland’s Magic Kingdom.

    What a waste of time and PBS money. But then again PBS can point to this tangle of video-tape and brag about how much they are into “diversity” even if their house negro filled it with misinformation, brazen political agenda and Gates’ own special brand of tired and very faux Afro-Am arrogance.

    P’al carajo pendejos. Alla ustedes en sus estupideces de caserio! Que poca cosa son de verdad.

  • Sebastian Zamot-Rivera

    Manuel, you make a good point, HOWEVER, as a White Puerto Rican who has lived for a long time in the States, I have long ago stopped looking for cultural or historical connection with American Blacks.

    Their vision of themselves and their history within the western hemisphere is little more than a cheap, politically-correct version of what the White Americans have allowed them to have. Charlatans like Gates are a product of that cultural subordination of the Sub-Saharan African descendants in the States and he is VERY typically the product of this cultural abortion of American Blacks.

    He has made numerous INCREDIBLY HUGE mistakes in this “documentary” and he does not miss a chance to patronize the very blacks in Latin America that he purports to care so much about. He is the classic uncle Tom negro dancing for his white masters at PBS. And these masters don’t care if his “documentary” is based on historical fact of nonsense advance by Gates’ racist agenda and sadly in this thread there are way too many who are willing to worship at the altar of Gates regardless of what he produces as “history”.

    The result here is a total disaster of racist, afro-centric mythology and hate-Whitey diatribes disguised in $10.00 words that he has to look up in the dictionary. His “scholarship” is very suspect but in the apologist world of the academy, jerks like him go very far in their “career” because very few will question him for fear of being called “racist”.

    So, personally, I am not waiting for him to come to Puerto Rico to further insult us with his arrogance and equally offensive ignorance. And equally sad is the fact that we have our own collection of idiots who will gladly put on their FAKE peacock tail feathers EVEN THOUGH there were NEVER peacocks in Puerto Rico before the European settlers brought them as exotic pets.

  • Labrador-Amador, Javier

    Gates and his “Ph.D” American race stupidity is NOT welcome in Puerto Rico.
    EVER! Take it to Oprah and her insipid audience of constipated housewives with no brains left.

  • Theresa Albert

    Dear Doctor Gates,

    My students and I had followed your ancestry studies in the wonderful series of
    programs ,enjoying them immensely, throughout your PBS series this year.

    The series (and readings and films I pull in additionally) has led my students,
    each of them either a refugee or immigrant, both in many cases,
    learning American English in my classes, to reflect on many important and, as they
    see it “fun and relevant” discussions. Furthermore, we just enjoy the entertainment.

    So it is with enthusiastic personal and professional delight that I have just
    listened to your Fresh Air discussion with Terry Gross this evening. Great!

    The stories about your experiences, including the most infamous and unsettling one
    which, I agree, President Obama(greatly admired in my classes, inspite of the near
    impossibility of his making the kind of progress for all of us, he strives to achieve) handled
    well on behalf of all citizens, residents and visitors, here in the U.S., touched us deeply.

    I believe it touched most people deeply. I believe it was instructive, in the end,
    in a positive and useful way. You helped me believe it more so than I had dared.

    Have you read about the convergence of Native Americans “Canoe Journey”
    leading many native peoples to the Seattle area? It could be great, too.

    It may be another, hopefully positive, “teachable moment” for the students,
    especially, and all of us. Nearly all of my Latino students and families are
    uncomfortable with their native ancestry, in denial of it, and/or discriminatory in their
    own treatment of those they believe to be more native than Spanish. All except the
    proudly Purepecha, Maya and other “indio” families who embrace their ethnicity.

    Many wrestle with this painful conflict of their perception and their reality, as all
    of us do, to greater or lesser degrees. However, I hope this newly arrived youth can do
    better than we have done with the potential great advantages the influx of
    “new” peoples and cultures offers. That their arrival here portends.

    In any case, “hats off” to you, sir! I have long admired your style and your visible
    heartfelt stance with each person. And I applaud the efforts you make to help us
    see our “oneness” or great divergence as sisters and brothers
    here on the planet, here in North America, most especially.

    Thank you very much.

    Theresa Albert

    language teacher
    Glenfair School, English to Speakers of Other Languages
    University of Oregon, French
    Portland Community College, English, French and Spanish

    cultural and linguistic anthropology student

  • Vasco R. A. Pires

    Dear Dr. Gates,
    Have you done any studies of the slave trade before the 1500s? There was one comment in this forum that asked about the Islands of Cape Verde. What have you found in your “research”, about the the connections to the Diaspora of West African peoples in the “New World”, and the Islands of Cape Verde, during the 1400s. Do you not feel there is a connection? Why do you feel Cape Verde is left out of the discussions? I also do not understand why a scholar such as yourself and others still refer to “Race” as a category in describing differences between people of the human race. J. A. Rogers said in 1942: “Finally there is only one race – the human race.”
    Here we are in 2011 and still we have not changed our mindset from colonial social constructs. It is time to think outside the “Colonial Box”. There is still a lot of history to be uncovered. I thank you for your efforts, but please try harder.

    “debbie says:
    May 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm
    First of all thank you Prof. Gates. I will like you to do a piece on the Cape Verde islands. I come across a lot of Cape Verdeans in the Boston area, & I’ve never met a group of people who are very confused about who & where they come from. Second there’s & East Indian population (indentured servants) in the Caribbean, where I am from (Trinidad). Racism between the East Indians & Afro Caribbean in this region is very strong, but often kept under the rug. Now there’s a heavy migration of Chinese to all of the Caribbean. So now it’s the East Indians & Chinese vs the Afro Caribbean.”

  • troubled in paradise

    Dr. Gates:

    All you did with this video was highlight the issue of race in the DR in a negative manner. When you went to Haiti, you spoke very highly of their character, which is fine. However, were you being racist when you made this video as you subtly narrated the side of the DR? Why didn’t you higlight the accomplishments Dominicans have made throughout history even though we have been through so much adversity? Is this another propaganda scheme to put down Dominicans? If you really want to help Haitians, whom I believe deserve to be helped, why not focus on them entirely without the need of putting down the other side of the island? With all due respect,

  • Beckie Cromartie

    Thanks! However, this list is incomplete. As per my knowledge there arealmost 15-20 branches of IOB in Pune.

  • Nyasia

    With all do respect why wasn’t Puerto Rico one of the islands visited? The culture is very similar to Brazil’s in a sense of supposedly accepting our mixture but actually rejecting it. Why didn’t you touch up on why latinos tend to reject their black heritage? For the same reason African’s in America do relaxers – they were taught to hate themselves. It is an issue that is happening not only in Dominican Republic but also here in the states and all over Latin America. Also I feel as though the Dominicans were spoken about in a very negative manner but we need to realize why they think that way and that unfortunately most latinos (even when they clearly have African roots) think just like them. I am speaking from experience, I am a mulata from Puerto Rico.

    One more thing, when you spoke about the blacks in Mexico ( yes I am fully aware that there are blacks in Mexico and around all of Latin America) however when the women spoke of her father being dark he was not black, he was Indian. Too often latinos claim that all our indians are dead – which is not the case – many of them mixed with the blacks and were raped just like the blacks by the europeans.

    Please if you could touch up on these topics. What your doing is important but please don’t forget all the other important things.

  • Nya Idaly

    Thank you Enrique Gonzalez, good point.

  • Nya Idaly

    Another thing that really bothered me is that he seems very bias, especially with Brazil. Does he not realize that Puerto Rico is just as mixed as Brazil? You can have a set of parents that are both somewhat dark and come out with a very light child. Does he not realize that in the United States we are just as mixed as well? I’m sorry but Beyonce didn’t get that skin color and features by being African and only African. She looks like my latin people of Puerto Rico. Why? Because we are mixed! And yes we embrace our African roots. Listen to salsa, “Las caras negra de mi gente” Hector Lavoe or read poetry by Julia de Burgos. Our African heritage is just as rich as that of Brazil.

  • jilbab

    Steve, your very same logic could also be applied to dog fighting. Kinda makes you think.

  • Omar

    A young Caucasian girl that I work with came to me one day and told me how every Hispanic that she had met would complain about the way America treat Latinos.That was before I watched this documentary.I told her not to feel bad and to question them about how they treat the Blacks and Natives in their countries….
    I work with Latinos and every time I would complain about their off-color jokes,they would say que yo soy acomplejado.To have an idea of how blacks are treated in Latin American,just watch Univision,Telemundo and Telefuturo.See who are the newscasters,show hosts,or actors.Outside of a few reporters,you wouldn’t see an Oparah,Tyra,Tavis Smiley,to name only a few in the so called unjust America. Also watch your local news and see the difference.
    America is not perfect and has a history of brutally mistreating people especially people of African decent.However,I don’t see any country in Latin America that treat Black people better than the United States.
    Whenever the so called white Latinos would tell me about how equal their countries,I would usually ask the black ones.They always have a completely different story. I sympathize with people who get mad.It’s normal anytime time someone challenges the so called norm.But even though the truth hurts,it has to be told!!!!
    Kudos Dr Gates. Your documentary is not perfect but it’s very informative.

  • yelena demikovsky

    Hi, I would like to talk ask Mr. Gates questions but it might be too late to get to this conversation.
    Anybody can help me to find him?
    Yelena Demikovsky
    a filmmaker

  • S Robinson

    I think many people have missed the point about this documentary. I am based in the UK and the series is currently being shown now. Maybe it’s too uncomfortable for people to watch and see the truth about African people’s lives in the past and present but I have found it so far very informative and it is not a subject I have seen being given a platform.

    Not sure why Puerto Rico was missed out. Hopefully he will do it next time. Calling Gates an Uncle Tom – what a ridiculous statement.

  • Marlena

    Black in Latin America and DNA ancestry are fascinating. As a Puerto Rican, I wish you had visited Puerto Rico. I think our society is more color blind, but is it really? Maybe not as much as I thought. I would love to hear what you can find out about our unique situation.

  • Edgar

    Very good documentary indeed. Still, I wonder why Puerto Rico was not included in the documentary, since it shares a common heritage with Cuba and Dominican Republic; on top of that Puerto Ricans are the largest Afro-Latino population living in the USA… Well, maybe next time.

  • Emilio Cuesta

    I really like how he compares the six Latin American countries that the interviewer asks him about. You really learn a lot because he seems to talk about each country. I found that every country he talked about experienced a period of “whitening” except Haiti. He seems to mention that the poverty level comes from the African-Americans in the country, and is why Haiti is such a struggling country. Although I do find this a bit racist, he seems to back up his information with factual evidence to which he proves his point. I think he did a good job overall.

  • Lucy

    As a student in high school, this series was eye opening as I have only really learned about blacks in America and the African slavery in America. It is astounding to think that combined, Mexico and Peru experienced more slaves than in America. Reading this interview brings to light several facts that I didn’t know about the documentary. The decision to make the trilogy reflect the countries in the Triangle Trade is very interesting and creative. It was interesting to see how blacks in modern day Latin America view their heritage now. We watched the series in Spanish class and we are all much more informed on the subjects taught in this documentary.

  • Heather

    I found this question and answer as very interesting. I learned a lot about the triangle trade he was explaining and the issue of race. I thought Professor Gates did a great job with the film and this questions and answer documentary. He was very helpful in making me aware of the African decent in many countries. I would love to hear more from professor Gates and the work he has done.

  • J. Christian

    I never knew that Latin America felt so different towards mixed blood than American’s do. As we believed that one drop of black blood made you black, in Latin American one drop of white blood makes you white. It is also interesting that there are 136 different mixes of blood in Brazil, 16 in Mexico, and 98 in Haiti whereas America has 3.

  • chris

    i never really thought or even realized what you had said about haiti during the earthquake. with all the publicity i never once heard any mention of the rich and intersting history of the small nation and im glad i had a chance to learn about it.

  • Emily

    Doctor Gates did an excellent job with these films. He brought enthusiasm to his work and made the content really interesting to watch. It was great that he filmed himself in Latin America doing the research first hand. The various interviews he did were very personal and provided valuable insight and perspectives. This series and Q and A is a perfect blend of factual information and Gates’ entertaining travels in Latin America. I would recommend this series to anyone who is interested in learning something new and informative. The fact that the viewers and readers are learning the information at the same time as a Harvard professor is interesting in itself. This Q and A solidifies the factual content in the film series.

  • Taylor

    I thoroughly enjoyed this documentary. The topic is extremely interesting I can not believe how much I did not know about black culture in Latin America. I especially enjoyed the segment on Susan Baca. Keep up the good work and I hope to be able to watch more of the series.

  • mary torres

    im puerto rican! lol :)

  • D S Dunlap

    Speaking of Cuba, the fact of the matter is that Blacks were in better shape, generally, BEFORE the Castro Revolution (much of which, according to several Cuban dissidents and a well-written book entitled “Exposing the REAL Che Guevara and the Useful Idiots Who Idolize Him (by Cuban exile Humberto Fontova *his family came to the US in the early 60s when he was young*) consisted of actually paying off Cuban military officers to NOT fight the Communists) than they are now. The Communist Castroites actually did MORE fighting AFTER they took control than before. There was a six-year anti-Castro insurgency in the highlands and mountains as smallholding farmers fought to keep from having their lands “nationalized” by the Cuban Communists. As for Che Guevara, he was an Argentine drifter who HATED blacks, and while in Africa leading communist insurgents, complained that the blacks didn’t know how to fight and were useless as soldiers (interesting that the blacks fighting AGAINST the communists and Guevara in Africa fought quite well under “Mad” Mike Hoare. Guevara was not only a racist, but a military idiot. In fact, he was so awful a tactician and strategist that he makes Hitler look like Genghis Khan for military strategic skill).

    Thus, to believe the claim that Castro and the Communists made racism “disappear” is to believe that Nebraska has a seashore.

  • sucre figuereo

    Professor Gates..I have a fascinating idea!!!!Just like African American Lives,you should go to the Dominican Republic and do dna studies on some regions none to have people with Native American(Taino) features.Reason being, is that alot of Dominican folk like African Americans swear that they have Mezo American dna in there genes..The diference is African Americans say it to explain why they are a lighter shade;Dominicans use the Native American excuse to explain their darker skin shade..Even though i beleive that there are parts of D.R. that may have people with Mezo American dna..All this talk about the Tainos were extinct is just nonsense.Dominican spanish still has many Taino words in it plus i have seen these people in the mountains that have to be of Taino descent… In the Dominican Republic a white man in the street can call any black man with out knowing him.. negro(black),with no problem.It doesn’t mean that there’s no racism; there is…I live there..Professor Gates..get with me and i will take you to the mountains where these Indians are..

  • D Gault

    Wonderful series. Panama should have been included for serveral reasons. Most of the South American slave population went trough Portebello Panama. Secondly the canal created a unique migration of West Indians to Panama. 50% of Panamanians have West Indians roots 65% of that number is from Jamaica… I would enjoy the exploration the double link of Panama and Jamaica. The middle passage to Spanish town and Portebello versus the canal building labor needs that brought Jamaica and Panama together again…

  • KVGoodman

    I have enjoyed the series very much and Mr Gates does a wonderful job in his presentations.

    I hope to see “MELUNGEON” (considered, “Mystery” people) descendants on this show in the near future … and finally, their race(s), ancestors, and relatives uncovered. It will be an extremely interesting show.

  • T Paris

    Kudos to Dr. Gates for spotlighting a little known characteristic of our world. Treating the Caribbean and Latin America together breaks some of the false divisions in culture studies. Two other places that I find provide similar treatment of the culture are westindies360 and the caribbean review of books on the web.

  • lola

    The El Sistema program in Venezuela is being fetted as a tool to combat the myth of classism and acceptance of other races in classical music, Dr. Abreu and his former student Gustavo Dudamel are the best known of this movement. This program began because Dr. Abreu experienced the rejection of whites and started the program and in spite of set backs, weather money, equipment, pupils, teachers etc. he persevered for the sake of showing the ( classical music is packed with the lowest form of humanity alive) so called elite who get rich off NFP (bs it is a profession for greedy white folks, with gutter life styles) which is nothing more than a cash cow for the mgmt and conductor, the real talent (the orchestra players get screwed, literally. Having said that, El sistema is now a cash cow, Abreu for decades was humiliated by whites and now he is living through his latin protage Gustavo (this is truly an elusion of inclusion) the whites may be paying them well, especially considering where Dudamel and Abreu come from, but Abreu and Dudamel should realize and be responsible for fostering racism in the orchestras, thedarker skinned players are few and the number of afro venezuelan are lower in number in the Simon Bolivar and Teresa Carreno orchestras, TO RID SELF HATE JOSE IT MUST BEGIN WITH YOU. Also Jose, drugs, prostitution, pedophiles, murder, sex for position etc. does not stop because you are a classical musician, if anything it’s WORSE, but the children (not all)might make a decent salary, some of the most dispicable monsters conduct, compose, sing, act etc. your occupation does not represent your character, integrity or moral compus. White people are really using these Latinas in Venezuela, they did no back breaking work but know Abreu (supposedly a intelligent man) is licking up the faux like Dudamel and not realizing people like Bernsteins daughter (the miserable blood sucker) is coming on the bandwagon to profit, she like her other siblings are living off her fathers legacy, which in terms of humanity (if you have intellect) was a guise to rap young men who wanted a classical career, Bernstein was a closet monster who married and latina female because the powers that be told him to, this way he could continue his sick homosexual lifestyle as his Predecessors did to him, his latina wife knew but died of aids and the Dog Bernstein didn’t even attend her funeral. I say all this to inform the people at El Sistema to beware, you are latin, God created you and man created prejudice, but it can only thrive if weak people let it, you are missing the talented rainbow, don’t let the people who rejected you Dr. Abreu fool you, or more importantly the children and their parents are watching, don’t let your ememies bring your hard work down, corrosion is quiet but deadly.

  • Soa

    I completely agree with what some are saying here. While Mr. Gates provides interesting insight I can’t help but feel as though he was trying to enforce a certain agenda to isolate the African admixture in Latin America and amplify it as much as possible while negating everything else. He approached this with the typical American white slave master’s perspective on race.

  • CJMunguia

    This was a great series and documentary about Black in Latin America. This documentary has further educated me on Latin America with deep culture. I do agree with Jan as well, however, I have studied in Mexico and dealt with the challenges of being “black”. This was in 2008. I did talk to elder natives and we discuss color, race, and discrimination in Mexico. I am ready to go beyond Mexico to continue my studies in Spanish, History, and Culture to understand why and how Latin Americans have some many racial inequalities, why do one say their are Latino/a vs Hispanic etc…one powerful quote was…”being black in Brazil vs im American and black”… I really wish that Professor Gates could have traveled to Guatemala to concentrate on the Mayan and black inhabitants of the is very indigenous and in my opinion, many and all people are descendantsof African.

  • Rick Mc Callister

    You are mistaken in stating that Vicente Guerrero was the first president of Mexico, He was the second. Among other Latin American presidents, Bernardino Rivadavia, the first president of Argentina, was considered to be of mixed African and European ancestry, as was Simón Bolívar, el Liberatador, whose great-great-grandmother was said to have been a slave. Bolívar also had ancestors from the Canary Islands.
    A respondent mentions the lack of Black people in El Salvador. In reality, nearly all Salvadorans have noticeable African ancestry, but dark skin tends to be associated with poverty. My wife is a Black Salvadoran of mixed African, European and Native American ancestry from the middle class and her presence as a professional with a college degree always raised eyebrows there.

  • Amadi P. Ogbonmwan

    Hi Prof, we (my wife & I) are French educated Nigerian Georgians. Every time we see your program on the TV we literarily suspend everything else to watch it. My wife has lately become so equally connected that she even goes to the local library to rent any of your videos she can find, including Ethiopian Christians, Zimbabwean people, & everything in between. We’re now watching BLACKS IN LATIN AMERICA. We also learned as of late, that you have the Yoruba blood in your veins too! What a blessing to know you! Keep up the good works & God bless you. Amadi P & Isoken E Ogbonmwan, Atlanta 091012

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