Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Timeline: Haiti & the Dominican Republic

  • Tammie

    Good information in brief historic summary.

  • Ricardo Romain

    I’m Haitian and i’m really proud of it!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love my Haitian people!!!!!!

  • Gerard Cadet

    Great appreciation for the for the work and the and the history brought to life by Dr Gates jr. Because of Him,,many will be more informed about the evilness of slavery,I hope that every one get something out of it,some to continue to fight for the preservation of liberty; others, to understand the pain caused by slavery. I hope this new understanding will pave the way for a better and just world.

  • Ololofi

    Thanks to Dr. Gates. PBS, and all connected to this long overdue project. I hope that this opens up the gates of history. There’s plenty still to be researched and reveal as Africans of the Diaspora tell OurStory.

  • Joel

    The editors of this report forgot to include a very important date in this time line of the Island… and its December 1st ,1821, when the Dominicans gain peaceful Independence from Spain… we were already an independent Nation ,when the Haitians decided to invade a weaker country with about 70,000 citizen and no army.. while they were over 500,000 with an Army of over 20,000 Haitians.

  • JUan

    Interesting documentary but as with most PBS productions revolves around the concept of Black Good White bad. USA bad Haiti good. Dominicans can’t/shouldn’t be proud of their European heritage ( yes, Language, Religion, architechture 11 % White 70% Mulato [white and balck mix ]19% pure black population) yet Haiti should be 100% proud of their “blackness”: Dominicans bad , ignorants who negate their “true heritage ” HAitians are brave and courageous. Wow…. I got to say I am offended… I was going to recommend thsi documentary since I do understand the “Indio” mentality and always found it flawed. However to claim all Dominicans are black or have black anscestry is as ignorant as saying all Gringos are white and rich ( a beliefe stil held by many people in poor nations ).

    I have to say I expected more . You totally went the left way as usual. :-\ Shame. BTW.. Just so you know, whites unmixed are a plenty in DR. Want pictures>????

  • Dry

    I am highly dissapointed on this documentary. I was looking forward to it to be fair and actually recommended it to people. As a Dominican American I undertand first hand the whole “I’m not black” mentality of many Dominicans. First of all 11% of all Dominicans are of white/non mixed European descent. You could even see some in yoru documentary although you chose to stay away from the rest of the “white” areas . The great mayority is MULATO ( mixed white and black ) about 75%. The rest is pure black and many are Haitian immigrants. Our attitudes towards race are not what you think. Unless the person is pure black meaning not mixed why should they identify as such? To satisfy Americans sense of political correctness? The host of the show said at one point ” All these people ( in DR ) would be considered black inh the USA.” I ask you .. Why? Because many Americans have preconceived notions about race? Because if you are not white and your skin has a bit of brown or beige you are labeled black? Is Hallie Berry black? In the USA maybe for the reasons I just explained. In reality she is of WHITE and BLACK descent. Mariah Carey? Irish and Venezuelan Lenny Kravitz, Black and Jewish.. But you want us to clasify them as black? Do not label me. I am what I am. My mother can trace hger lineage straight to spain while my fathers is a mix of West Indies African American and mulatos and yes “Indios “. So again I ask.. Why do you put the “black ” label on me? Why should I accept it? If I traced my ancestry to Nigeria or Congo and if my ancestor’s race was black I would proudly call myself black. In the meanwhile let me be.I am spanish because that is my language. I am mulato because my mom is white and my dad is dark. I am catholic and lived in spanish designed homes form the 16th century. Therefore I am proud of my Spanish heritage. I ask you again, why am I black? Do I have black in me? Proudly yes. But I am not black. nor white. I just am.

  • Kritik

    Short shrift given to the history and culture of the Dominican Republic. Also, the music in the Dominican Republic section was salsa, not merengue.

  • kritik

    Short shrift given to Dominican history and culture–Gates even slighting and mocking at moments. Also, music in the plaza was salsa, not merengue.

    Still a good first attempt at addressing this highly complex history. It is very difficult to look beyond the American way of framing the issue of race and culture. Gates is no exception in this regard.

  • Béatrice Lauture

    Thank you for this documentary. I have seen the part about Haiti & the Dominican Republic.
    I am from Haiti my parents came to Quebec about 35 years ago. I am always searching and learning about my mother land but I feel that I still don’t know much about Haitian history.
    I know that Haitian had some prejudice against Dominican and vice versa, I thought it was about the braceros. Thank you for this history lesson. For French Blacks who live Quebec/Canada we often have to rely on American publication about black history. I enjoy listening to the professor very instructive while.accessible.
    I will buy the documentary to share with my children. Thank you Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and PBS for your quality program. I am looking forward to receiving my DVD.
    Béatrice L.

  • Frances

    Great special!

    I am NuYoRican and I really enjoyed the informative info.

  • Guilene

    I watched the episode on Haiti and Dominican Republic last night and thought it was very informative.
    As a young Haitian who moved from Haiti 20 years ago, I was able to understand the reasons for the disconnection and feeling of hostily toward Haiti. It was amazing to see how historical events affected each country.

    I am thankful to Dr. Gates, and PBS for providing this information.
    I plan to continue watching and learn about the other latin American countries.

  • Sachiel

    I noticed some errors with the Haitian timeline. From my research, Toussaint L’Ouverture abolished slavery in Saint Domingue in 1801 (before Haiti was independent, that was his main goal, the abolition of slavery and instituting equal rights), Haiti’s first official constitution was written in 1805 which included the abolition of slavery as one of its first articles. Also in 1807, Henri Christophe wasn’t the only president in Haiti. The new country was divided between north and south. The north ruled by blacks led by Henri Christophe, and the south ruled by Mulattos led by Alexandre Petion (who by the way was a key leader in the fight for Haitian independence). The country was reunited (sometime between 1820 and 1821) under Jean-Pierre Boyer, a mulatto and Alexandre Petion’s successor in the south.

  • TEE

    This is an excellent history lesson. Thank you Dr. Gates. Your are correct in your research all Dominicans are Black, in fact Whites, Asians, Hispanics, French, British, Indians etc. came from the Black Race which began in Africa, as they were the first on this earth not the Indians.

    African Owners of EuropeThe so called Grimaldi, a nation of Black Africans were the first modern human nation to arrive in Europe. Their significance has always been clouded by the funny nomenclatures used to designate them i.e. Grimaldi, Neolithic men, etc. The reason for this being that many modern European historians steeped in the pervasive racism of their culture, would earnestly wish away the significance of the Grimaldi, and the founding role of Africans in the making of Europe and its present day inhabitants. The founding of Europe by Africans is one of those inconvenient historical facts that completely make a mess of the Eurocentric matrix of world history as developed by the western culture.

    Black Africans had first settled Spain, which was once physically attached to North Africa. Black Africans were the aborigines of Spain. Those same Africans migrated over and again in recurring tides of human movement. It is thus not surprising that Africans have lived in Spain for hundreds and thousand of years as Spaniards until the 1492 conquest of Granada by the piratical armies of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabelle of Castille.

    We all need to research our heritage to learn the truth of our roots.

  • Finny

    Great show and long over due. I would love more about the history of Hispaniola and the creation of Haiti. Another documentary regarding that topic would be awesome. Only thing i had an issue with is that some things are not that cut and dry. For instance, Voodo (Santeria) is practiced in Dominican Republic too and many Haitians are Roman Catholic. The reasons why Haiti had to occupy Dominican Republic for 22 years should have also been stated. Haiti actually freed the entire island and the Haitians knew that only they could protect it from foreign invasion. The last thing Haiti wanted was to get re-enslaved.

  • Miguel

    Professor Gates,

    unfortunately I agree with many of the comments above that point out that being black in Latin America is defined differently than in the States. It may sometimes not be a good thing, but in others it is.

    Professor Gates, you profess to be black but less than forty percent of your genes are black, a fact that you learnt while producing another of your shows. Are you being objective with your identity, or is this a label that historically the white majority has imposed on you, or is it an identity that you have embraced? I suspect it is a combination of the latter two, and that happens with many who are identified as black in the US.

    By no means are the different prejudices on color in Latin America justfiable, but imposing the US view of who is black and who is not is just another set of prejudices you are trying to project on them.

    From a Latinamerican point of view, Obama and you are mulatos; and those with one grandparent that is black and the rest European is “cafe con leche” and are accepted into the whiter society. (And that must have been how Trujillo would rightfully claim his whiteness.) This is of course discriminatory and I do not defend it. Just have in mind that this is how it was during all of the last century, while in most of that century virtually anybody that inherited some African genes was discriminated upon in the US.

    Ultimately, there is a great deal of discrimination in Latinamerica because of color and poverty. What you have not appreciated is the elasticity of the spectrum of color that exists there, and how that allows people to live together. Perhaps this concept has been superceded in our presently diverse US, but I will be much happier when you are able to celebrate your other origins equal pride as your blackness.



  • JohAnn

    In my opinion, this was well done! And in reading the previous comments that seemed a bit upset in tone, I ask, what, if anything, is wrong with being “black”? I am Dominican and at an early age was told better the race and not mix with blacks (americans). Is it that bad? I mean African is actually a part of us, or is that deniable? Truthfully, can anyone say it is? Born and raised on the East Coast, I do not know history from Dominican Republics eyes … but I have taken the time to educate myself outside of the classroom, and, as a result, cannot deny the facts. I also believe that D.R. is the Tribe of Simeon and Haiti is the Tribe of Levi … both of the 12 tribes of Israel. I, along with some of my peer relatives, sure hope that this would be available in the spanish language so that we could share it with our living elders.

  • John-England

    Spiniards, europeans look down on Dominicans and Latin America as a whole. Why do they want to be us.

  • Karla Perez

    THANK YOU!!! The dialogue has begun.

    I think that Dominicans here in the US and back on the island are deconstructing the history of oppression towards our brothers and sisters from Haiti. For almost 4 decades the Trujillo regime made it a priority to preach hatred, and that hatred and ignorance leaked….I see that things are changing ALTHOUGH not fast enough.

    I have always admired Haitians for their stoicism.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Juan Jose Patequi

    I am an Afro-Cuban living in the US since I was a teenager in 1963,The opening music was a Cuban son montuno and not merengue which itself is of Haitian origin known as meringue-a Franco-phone word. In Spanish merengue is a dessert. After the close of the Haitian sugar cane industry the biggest sugar producer was Cuba-not Brazil as mentioned, also Haiti is not called the “Pearl of the Antilles”, that’s Cuba nickname. Haita contributed a lot of culture to Cuba through it’s eastern province so close to Haiti after the Hatian Revolution because many French left with their slaves to Oriente-Cuba and New Orleans LA. I hope that is mentioned in the Cuba epsiode

  • Philehyp

    This was a decent document. I know everyone has their own opinions (not necessarily facts) about whatever the case may be. I have met many Haitians and Dominicans and some of the comments posted here I will say is pure ignorance or lack of knowledge from both sides. The document is entitled “BLACKS in Latin America” therefore it will focus more on the darker skin side of the spectrum. 1st of all, those race percentage numbers are completely wrong. And if one take in consideration mulattoes, there are a lot of those in Haiti as well. Most Dominicans claim Spanish ancestry, where are I have met German, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Dutch and Arab Haitians amongst the widely expected French ancestry Haitians. But I have also noticed that MOST of their descendants claim BLACK whether they stay within their own of mix with the black population. and just like one of the previous post above, shouldn’t they claim, “I AM WHAT I AM, I’M NEITHER BLACK NOR WHITE”. And even further from the LATIN AMERICA context, OBAMA had a WHITE mother and AFRICAN father, is a MULATTO or is he BLACK, where do we make the difference???

  • Shaka

    This was a very good documentary, showing the true facts about ourstory, you cannot question the facts, they are what they are. It was an eye opnener to many people who I talked to.

  • Gisselle

    THE BIG QUESTION HERE IS: What is Race? What is Religion? What is culture? I think that Dr. Gates is mixing one thing with the other….I am dominican, and when you look at me you can not really tell if I am black or white by just looking at the color of my skin. Another thing I can say is that his narrow way to look at history is both simplistic and biased, as so is to say that people in my country are either white or black, and that the color of our skin should give us an identity of who we are. That is incorrect. We are culturally hispanics like everybodyelse in Latin America because the greatest cultural influence comes from Spain. The fact that the range of mixing goes from Dark blue to Off White is NOT what makes us closer to one culture or to the other…
    As dominicans our race is so diluted that at times the term MULATO is an understatement, but at least is the the one that can identify us better because we are mixed and we all feel comfortable with that, and our view has to be respected. We are who we are. History is more complex than he depicts in this documentary. The mixing between europeans and blacks was so profund in the Dominican Republic that whichever category you are to use is either not existant or invalid… What really surprises me more is that he could explore a little more the other side the story, for example, the impact of Spanish culture and its predominance in the development of the Dominican Republic.

  • QueVivaLaMusica

    Thank you for addressing this Interesting and complex subject matter. I also appreciate the comments on this board. Seems there could be a whole series just on Hispaniola. I look forward to watching the remaining episodes.

    By the way, the music played in the plaza scene was not Merengue it was Son Cubano.

  • Jennifer Estrella

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

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

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

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

  • Jersey Sam

    Why wasn’t the indiginous race on the island, (Taino Indians) a part of the equation? It’s true most of them were killed or died to foreign diseases brought by the colonizers but, how can you over look the truimph of Enriquillo?

  • MJ

    I agree with JUan. The program was about 5% about the Dominican Republic and 95% about Haiti. Haiti caused the majority of their problems, not the French or the U.S. Haiti has received billions of dollars over the years from the U.S., and internationally also, yet they still have no infrastructure. They continue steal and persecute each other. I feel Dr. Gates is totally biased against any person who’s not Black. I commend the Dominican Republic on how it continues to improve and move forward. The Dominicans are caring and intelligent people. God bless!!!

  • Karla

    I have to say that I agree with others Dr Gates. Your documentary, although titled “Black in Latin America”, talks about how Dominicans are in denial of who they are! I am Dominican but never have I denied my black ancestry! So sad that you decided to bring down the Dominican culture and glorify Haitians. You never discussed the horrible corruption that goes on in Haiti, you never talked about what Dominicans have done for Haitians during their terrible earthquake, nor did you discuss when Haitians invaded Santo Domingo. Instead you went on to generalize all dominicans which is exactly what you don’t want others to do with Haitians… I hope that someone decides to do a real documentary on Black in Latin America- someone impartial in their views that are willing to discuss the good, the black and the beautiful because we ALL have a little bit of each.

  • Kim

    I Enjoyed the Special it Was informative..I Do not think Professor Gates meant Any Harm In Saying That Dominican People Would Be Perceived As Black In America..I’m From NY And When I See people From DR They Do Look like they can be my Relatives.(i’m Black) Our Hair Textures Are The Same. I Go To A Dominican Hairdresser.

  • Kay

    In response to the overall documentary, I thought it was a valid one. The name of this special segment was Black in Latin America. Most Americans are of the belief that if you have color to your skin and physical traits that identify you as being linked with Africa, you are considered “Black” in this country. I dont think many of us can trace a straight lineage back to Africa presently due to the number of mixtures that most people have in this country. To Dry’s point, being Black isnt considered by most people of color that have mixed ancestries as negative, so what is the problem being identified as such? A person such as Halle Berry does not look white, it does not mean that she has to deny her ancestry but she does look like a person of color and most people of color identify themselves as black. Its only a problem because Black has never been associated with anything positive. In this country, many black/african women were impregnated by white men and those children were not considered white, they were raised and birthed by black/african women. I guess I ask, why not a black label when in reality thats what most brown skin people can identify most with?

    Excellent documentary, I look forward to the other segments.

  • Garrett

    Great program……could somebody tell me who scored this episode? I really would like to hear some more of this music. Thanks

  • Confused

    Dear Dry. I am confuesd. Are you lecturing Dr. Gates or US Americans? I thought Dr. Gate presentationon about race in the DR , although not perfect, was pretty stright forward. It helped me reach a better understaning of my Dominican immigrant relatives. I do not feel iGates was judgemental in its observations. As Gates said, all these people would be considered “Black’ in the States, this was a statement of how it is in the States lookas a color, no more no less. The fact that most dark skin Domincans or Americans of Domican heritage do not consder themselves black is also a statement of the way it is. In the past the official US American lines for identity purposed for which Hispanic heritage would not have been considered an option was, anyone with 25% Black African heritage was to call themselves Negro or Black. The fact that you refuse to refer to yourself as Black or are insulted if someone else considers you to be Black couriousity. I am somone who is of hispanc heritage with a darker skin completion. You and I know full well how some people in the States would categorize us. I ma sure this has been something, which you have found to be pretty ignorant and frustrating. And now , thanks to Gates, I understand a little better the Domican cultural self identity, I plan on being much more sensitive to those feelings. If they feel they are bettert than me or just recent being clasified as being Blac, that’s there problem (may yours) , not mine. Maybe you could be much more sensitive to the feelings of your other American and not be so upset with there screwy was of thinking. .

  • Confused

    Dear Dry. I am confuesd. Are you lecturing Dr. Gates or US Americans? I thought Dr. Gate presentation about race in the DR , although not perfect, was pretty straight forward. It helped me reach a better understaning of my Dominican immigrant relatives. I do not feel Gates was judgemental in its observations. As Gates said, all these people would be considered “Black’ in the States, this was a statement of how it is in the States. It was a statement of how most people in the Statest look at color, no more, no less. The fact that most dark skin Domincans or Americans of Domican heritage do not consider themselves black is also a statement of the way it is. In the past, not too many years ago, the official States discription lines for identity purposes, for which Hispanic heritage would not have been considered an option, was anyone with certain percentage of Black ansestry was to call themselves Negro or Black on official documents. A lot of Americans and the White European world still go by these old rules. The fact that people of Domincan heritage refuse to refer to themselves as Black or are insulted if someone else considers them to be Black was always a couriousity to me that I had summed up as an a racial prejudice or some form of self denial (inferiority complex) . I am sure this discription of you being Black has been something, which you have found to be pretty ignorant and frustrating. And now , thanks to Gates, I understand a little better the Dominican cultural self identity; I plan on being much more sensitive to those feelings. Maybe you can try tyo be a little less sensitive about what US Americans think of your darker complextion. Not that I have always felt this way, but I have found it is a waste of energy for me to be thinking about what other people are thiking about my skin tone. Like you, I am proud of my heritage . But, it doesn’t make as much of a difference as it use to and we have more important things ( I hope) to think about. I think Dr Gates has done us a great service in explaining a kuttke but about Domincan history and the cultural attitude about race. I am looking forward to learning more of my heritage with his continuing the series with other Latin American countries.

  • Antonio Gonzalez

    Professor Gates,
    Please spend more time in the Dominican Republic and realize how she is more connected with Africa than any “African American” before you make any attempts at describing our music.

  • DRC

    Fascinating show Dr. Gates. As a African American of Afro-Caribbean descent, your portrayal of the racial divisions that linger on Hispaniola was eye-opening. I greatly look forward to the future episodes of this series.

  • Sly

    The only people who can classify themselves as spanish are those who are from Spain. Just because you speak spanish does not make you spanish. It is an ignorant concvept. When you describe yourself as mulatto, that makes you latino, and afro latino at best. Maybe you would not get so offended by the documentary if you had real knowledge of self. I have many white dominican friends but they will tell you that they have mulattos and morenos in their family. Why? Because people are people and they mix. The fact of the matter is the issue of race is the most ignorant concept that man has created because there is only one race, and that is the human race. Be what you want to be but don’t be ignorant of facts. BTW I have dominican heritage also and I am proud of it.

  • LVA

    Juan and Dry are totally missing the point. NO DOUBT are they Dominican and mixed. Self hatred is amazing. THANKS PBS!!! LOVIN IT!

  • Mike

    No mention Of Tossaint L overature

  • Antonia

    Very interesting! Can’t wait to watch the upcoming episodes. I agree with the comments of folks who have posted some disappointment but also feel that you see some of the struggle in Dr. Gates face and questions – trying so hard to understand a perspective that is not predominant in the United States’ understanding of race relations. One thing that just irritated me was Dr. Gates’ pronunciation of Trujillo – it is True-hi-yo NOT True-hi-ho.

  • Salvador

    This documentary pays a lip service to the peaceful relations relations that Haiti and the DR enjoy today.It could be interpreted by the Dominicans as a propaganda tool by those who considered that the division of the island is an absurdity.We are all well aware of it and the majority of Dominicans,no matter what the color of their skin might be or what the North Americans think about race,do not think this is absurd and that is very important . Quite frankly the North American society, that you sarcastically and proudly mentioned in your documentary about how the Dominican society would be measured racially by them, does not epitomize what would be considered in most part of the world a good example of racial harmony.
    Ther are some historical facts that I would like to clarify:Trujillo the bloody dictator that killed not only Haitians but also a lot of Dominicans, was the last to honor the name of the river Massacre.The first ones, in colonial times, gave the name to the river.Guest who?The “civilized”French their snipers or “franc-tireurs”were ready to massacre any runaway slave trying to reach the Spanish side of the island.Then before Trujillo, Mr Dessalines and Mr Christophe who massacre hundreds of inhabitants of the Spanish colony just because of their fair skin.

    One important factor not metioned as partly responsible of the Haitian misfortune is the interesting behavior of their elite social class. The notorious rapaciousness of the Haitian elite vis-a-vis their most unfortunate and darker brothers and the color code they have abided by since the French left the colony detrimental to the latter.
    Dr Gates you know that in order to solve a big problem and bring racial harmony,something that the North Americans are not very good at,one should be very cautious and be impartial and respect a culture that has been evolving for more than 500 years as you mentioned at the beginning and be known that we will not surrender it no matter what the North Americans or the Haitians think about race.

  • mikko

    Africa Unite! I for one enjoyed gaining knowledge on this series. I see a lot of the Dominicans are upset but the truth is the DR is black like Haiti is black. Haiti was the first to be a free republic of African people and the DR wanted to be Spaniards. I agree we can all trace our roots to find we are a combinations of may races of people. However one must know your “identity”. The haitians knew that and they embraced it. Being black and American I say “black” first its my identity but my roots have native american, white, and african in my background. I have pride in being what I am. Spain is Europe it will never be African like the DR will never be Europeans. You have dark skin wide noses full lips but you claim to be “indo” just another word to confuse the mind. You are an african scattered aboard like All of us brown people. Stop being full of shame and embrace who you are. You speak different tongues .. because of your oppressors. You are not part spanish or french or english by ancestry choice but by rape. A rape of a nation and of its black African people. Know who you are you sound foolish for Spain and France will never claim you. Mother Africa has always embraced you. Hotep blessings

  • T. Castillo

    One thing that was not mentioned, is that Hatians claim the island is there’s and undivided. That causes resentment among Dominicans. I am Dominican American not black not white. I was born in a border town in Texas, most people assume I am of Mexican descent. Mr. Gates, am I black or white? Which color should I choose? I think ill go with green

  • 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.

  • Ookii Desu

    Fist off I’m “Ayisyen natif natal” !!
    I’m totally amazed!!! I don’t understand the negative tone in some of these comments (actually I do but I’ll not judge) :) . I agree with “LVA” though, some missed the Pointe. I watched the “Cuban” episode and it dawned on me that each time the folks from up north interjected themselves into the Caribbean, they infected the population with their disease (WS); Blacks took a couple steps backwards.
    Great Job! PBS and Dr. Gates

  • Rico

    This documentary didn’t teach me anything about Dominicans that I didn’t already know. Even though the documentary has many flaws, but overall, it depicts a good reflection of most (not all) Dominicans when it comes to prejudice towards people with darker skin (Sammy Sosa bleached his skin white to feel more acceptable among his fellow countrymen.) Dominicans are no different from the rest of Latin American countries. They all live in denial and refuse to accept the fact that they have roots in Africa. Most Bolivians won’t even admit that Haiti helped them during their fight for independence. The same goes for Venezuela and Colombia.

  • Kwaku Kojo

    As a West African, born and raised in Ghana, I find your documentary to be enlightening. I wonder if we would still have these types of discussions had European colonialism and/or African slavery never occurred. All one has to do is look at the various comments in this forum (including mine) to see the beautiful end product of colonialism.

    For all “Africans in the diaspora” who are descendants of slaves and proudly claim Africa as part of their ancestry, we welcome you back home if you ever choose to make such a journey. Plese bear in mind that if you view the black skin color as something negative then your stay here will be short-lived and miserable as there are many of us “Africans with black skins here”, darker than you can imagine.

  • joao

    Gates made a very interesting documentary, he did leave somethings out from Haitian history and that is the fact that mulattoes in Haiti like alexandre petion worked with his black partners to make Haiti independent. Haiti is not only a nation where blacks exist, many Haitians are lighter and mulatto. Gates also left out the fact that mulattoes always were the ruling elite of Haiti that always tried to hide Haiti’s African heritage and promote Haiti’s French connections. And when Haiti invaded the Dominican Republic, it was Haiti’s mulatto leaders that sanctioned it for instance jean pierre boyer was a mulatto, so this Dominican hate of Haiti is also ignorance because many Haitians are mulatto also and many people who don’t know Haitian history well just assume Haitians are just only black.

  • RSR

    This documentary is great and it has made all of us think and start a great conversation.

    I am dominican: my skin is dark ( morena in DR or a light skin black in the US), curly hair, full lips and a wide nose. When I lived in DR, i would have never described myself as black or white, in fact, there would have been no need for me to describe my race at all because i was just dominican. I looked like the majority of people in the island.

    Dominicans ( in the 80’s and probably still done today) are taught that our racial make up is a mix of white, black and taino. I personally think the Taino part of our genetic make up is a romantic illusion dominicans have of our racial history. I think the Taino genetic heritage was relevant 500 years ago, not anymore…. Sorry folks!

    If you look at the description of complexion on your dominican passport, you will find the following description: Indio Claro ( if you are light skin but not pale), Indio ( if your tone is medium), Indio Oscuro ( if you are a darker brown). I don’t think there are too many Dominicans whose passports read “black” as description of their complexion. This documentary highlights this very valid point!

    It wasn’t until i arrived in the US that i was forced to choose a racial category…and i chose black.
    Why? Because although my parents are a mix of dark and light (and so are my grand-parents), when i look at myself in the mirror, i see more black traits than white traits. I still consider myself mixed but my complexion is dark and in the eyes of many (white americans and europeans), I would be considered black, maybe not african american, but i would still be considered black.

    My husband on the other hand (white and British) does not consider me to be black and we argue this point the whole time. When i asked my husband if he considers my mom to be white (who is of very light skin and in DR , would be considered to be white)? He said no, he does not think of her as a white person. she sees her as a light skin Latin but not white.

    I can see why some Dominicans and other ethnic groups around the world struggle to accept and embrace their black heritage. Historically, there was very little positive associated with being black.

    Some of the comments posted here by some Dominicans only highlight the fact or the point this documentary is trying to highlight: Most Dominicans are very defensive about being labeled “Black” while Haitians are not defensive. That’s all. Dominicans need to accept that truth, we are defensive about it!

    At the end of the day, Dominicans are people of color and regardless of where we are in the world, we will be seen and judged as that. We are not Whites, we are not Indios…please get over it.

  • sam

    This is an American program about being Black in Latin America. People in the islands seem to hold on to this mulatto, mixed race stuff, but in America if you are any type of brown, high yellow, what ever, you are Black. When the police racial profile, when people’s property was taken away, when people were beaten by racists, saying you’re mulatto would not get you out of it. You can travel around the world and tell people you are mulatto, but the reality is that you will be seen as black and if you talk down on black people you are talking down on yourself. You can cling to whatever culture you choose, that is not the issue. The point is in reality there are very few places on the earth where you will not be considered black if you are brown and/or have African features. Go to China and tell people you are mulatto. People there will come up and try to take a picture with you so they can have a picture of themselves with a Black person, they don’t know what a mulatto is. You can call yourself whatever you like, but to most of the world, realistically, you are Black.

  • Rossy

    The documentary was informative and it helped me learned things I didn’t know about my culture. I have to say that I’m Dominican and even though I’m already mixed with all kinds of cultures I am so proud of my African ancestors and everything they brought to the culture (food, music and so on). I also have to say that I agree with Karla about the negative tone towards the Dominicans… :-(

  • braca

    Completly ignores what happened to most of the real indio’s.

    He should refer the audience to Bartolo Casas log, Columbus ships log, the asiento and then the rest of the horrors.

    Gates should try to use fewer shots of himself obling round…

  • Daphne


    “…Oprah being declared 1/2 Native American…”

    This is false! The results of Oprah Winfrey’s admixture indicated that she is %89 Sub-Saharan (Black), 8% Native American, and 3% East Asian.

    Source: Finding Oprah’s Roots: Finding Your Own By: Henry Louis Gates

  • Douglas

    I have enjoyed the documentary series thus far. The people of DR must understand why we in the U.S see the race question so profoundly. The slave system was sustained based on control whether mental or physical. They used force for physical control and they split up family & like tribal men for mental control. In the U.S. if a slave holder indulged in sexual behavior with his slave, the resulting child was still slave because of the economic benefit. As time went on those of African ancestry mixed with European ancestry so no benefit of being slightly different from those with full African ancestry so there was no need to try separate based on some marginal color line. This distinction helped the U.S population of African decent to strengthen their resolve down through the centuries.

    In Central, South America, and the Caribbean Islands there were more slaves than slave owners and European so they had to devise a system of control (physical & mental) to keep the slaves in line. They created a racial cast system to help control the slave population. Basically if a person had African and European ancestry he or she would be considered of higher social standard than a person of African ancestry. They mixed population bought into this concept and perpetrated European racial views even though the Europeans didn’t consider them as equals as well.

    No one is a 100% of anything but if your dominate features are Afroid then you probably have more significant African ancestry than anything else.

    What I’m noticing about the comments coming from Dominicans is a large percentage of them look like us (African Americans) but they have a problem facing the fact. For many of them even the mixed ones they still have dominate African features more so than anything else and denying it doesn’t make much sense.

    If a nation put forth a concerted effort whiten their population then that should tell you that they are not at peace with their roots. The nations that practice this type of policy had large numbers of African slaves and didn’t wont to recognized as a black nation.

    We must understand that being black is not a particular shade of color just as being white is not. The white label is applied to anyone form Northern Scandinavia to Southern Italy and from Ireland to Russia. There are several different phenotypes in the white construct and they are widely different. Just as is there are several different phenotypes in the black construct. So being black doesn’t mean you can’t be mixed with something else it just mean the dominate trait is the African one.

    It’s 2011 the truth must reign now. For the Dominicans that are not white, you are our brothers and sisters and we are all of African ancestry and should be proud of it. Welcome to blackness trust me it’s a good thing.

  • miguel

    after seeing the show about brazil and cuba as a dominican now I see that in the dominican republic the so call blacks have it great . one thing dominican do not thing that they are either black or white we are dominican. We do have black hero general luperon one of the great man that restore the dominican independence in 1864. In santiago there is a monument for him. I love my mix race. One more thing I live in new york and in this great city the black community does not accept me as black. and when you ask they would say you are latino not black.

  • Jim Friend

    Douglas is right. What Black Americans mean when we say “Black” is that we have African Ancestry and we are proud of it. We are NOT referring to Skin Color. I think is opposite for many of our brothers and sisters in Latin America: when they say “black” they only mean it for people who have very dark skin and totally exclude the fact that you could be brown-skin or very light-skin and still have a majority African Ancestry. White Europeans from Sweden do not look like Europeans from Greece or Italy, yet they all say they are “White”. This idea of “Whiteness” has resulted global power for them. Much of the power that Black Americans enjoy despite only being 14% of the population comes from the fact that we HAVE NOT allowed ourselves to be divided on our various shades of skin-color (yes we too are mixed with Native Americans and Whites from Europe). We have instead embraced our African Ancestry to unify us whether we are as fair-skin as Alicia Keys or as dark as Little Wayne. I hope our brothers and sisters throughout Latin American embrace their Africaness and Blackness. In doing so they will also find the Power that has eluded them for so long.

  • Chantal

    For good or for bad, Hispaniola unites Haitians and Dominicans as brothers, something that Mr Gates had nothing to do with. I didn’t see the whole documentary, but as the first part (the part I saw), was filmed in the DR, I did not find it to be particularly more biased against the Dominicans. In fact, I thought that everything said was backed by the opinions of natives. As Haitian, I believe that a lot of ills can be healed between us. This documentary can be used as an ice breaker, an opportunity for dialogue. People have a right to claim what culture or race they belong to based on their reality, which is what Mr Gates may have meant when he mentioned that some dominicans, based on their skin color, would be considered black in the US. That’s the reality from which he comes. One doens’t get the impression that he wanted to impose that on any one group. Let’s not use this documentary to create an even begger division between us. I command the Dominican people for having been able to advance their country in par with the 21st century, something that the Haitian people, for a lot of reasons, have not been able to do. There is enough blame to go around, but we have to admit that most of it, if not all, is rooted in slavery. Color is not the only battleground we have inherited; our hair, our name, our education level, where we live, etc, are only but a few of our divides. I wish that Dominicans as well as Haitinans could take the high road and use these historic lessons as foundations to start to unite us and not to further divide us.



  • FromArlingtonUSA

    I have to say this is the most bias, racist “documentary” I have seen in a long time. To go to a country and intentionally (some may even say maliciously) expose only part of the population is just wrong. I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, and Dr. Gates offends me with his ignorance. To label a whole country in a way HE was forced while growing up in the USA, Dr. Gates applies the same bigotry he experienced while growing up. There is NO racism in the Dominican Republic, we embraced our blackness and it is impossible to escape, it is present in the way we speak, in the way we look, in our music and everything else, but just because we don’t conform with your predisposed concept of a black country doesn’t mean we are less “black” than Haiti or any other country. Yes, there is discrimination against Haitians in the D.R., but not because they are black, but because they come in a disorganized and abusive manner to our cities, over burden our public services, and do not respect our laws; don’t think is true? Take a walk through the street of Santo Domingo and Santiago and you’ll see for yourself… oh wait, that’s not what you are here to see, you are here to criticize us, label us, and spread your ignorant racist system of “black and white”. You should embarrassed of yourself.

  • Antonio

    My mother is Spaniard, my grandfather black , we have certain amount of native DNA in our blood, why do you want me to perceived myself just as black, because your Americanize perception of skin color?, I’m Dominican, and I have to acknowledge all those cultures in me!., dark, mulatto, mixto, black, called as you like it!. I’m proud of being mix and diverse, im not what you want me to be under your Afro-American perception, i don’t like hip hop, i don’t like 50c, or puff daddy, I even cook my food in a different way, that’s culture!. at the same time the point of reference of being black is la Hispaniola or hay-ti is not Afro-american in usa.

  • tanoo

    i am so sorry that some of you guys don’t like or appreciate the facts, but they are what they are. black people were made to hate themselves for the progression of slavery. as a black and proud man, i thank haiti for being the only group of black people to not put their heads down towards the white man and actually conquering him and taking his freedom. there is an identity problem among the dominicans, history has shown it so you cant deny what facts are. the DR wanted to be known as a white nation, but the problem is they are not. they wanted to bring all the jews there to whiten up their nation, these are established facts wether you like em or not. the population of whites in the dominican republic happens to be about 8% according to the world census, wait for it……….. 90% black yes 90%, you dont get any blacker than that. look at what michael jackson did to himself, and the baseball player from the dominican republic sammy sosa. its been known that they associate black with haitian and since they hate the haitians, they dont want to share the same race i guess. they came up with this whole indian theory which amazes me cause all the indians were killed, hence the reason for going to africa to get blacks to make slaves. look you can desire to be what you want, but i tell you one thing, when white people see black, they know what it is. while you going around calling yourselves indian and all other races but what you are, the rest of the world know what you are because they can see.

  • Johnny

    First let me say ,that I am from Chile and have traveled to the DR many times, I don’t see whats the big deal, the DR is a mixed country, there are whites, mulattos and blacks, and they rather be called Mixed, the documentary was one sided, Dr gates only showed blacks Dominicans or maybe Haitians born and raiced there, and trust me there are millions of Haitians in the DR now , He didn’t go to La Vega , Jarabacoa , Sosua, and other places there there are a lot of whites, He only showed the side he wanted to show. I know Dominicans well , since I have been going there since 1989, and trust me they are very proud of who they are , and not in any denial as Dr Gate wants to show he, they feel like a mixed country with people from Africa, Europe, Asia, and middle east and feel 100% Latinos. Now in the Documentary , Dr Gate show an American point of view of races and Can’t understand why Mullatos don’t feel “Africans” like he and the Haitians feels, Its simple really, because Dominicans are Latinos,that’s why Mr Gates, It doesn’t get it.
    If Dr Gate and the Haitians want to feel African ,that is fine, But I think this Documentary just make the DR look bad because it is one sided. Dr Gates you are living on planet earth, Not planet United States, ..The US point of view on races is not the only one on this planet.

  • Jose manuel Rodriguez

    Even in the TIMELINE, this article or documentary leave out some very important facts about Dominican history, Like the date of our real original INDEPENDENCE which was in DECEMBER 1ST , 1821 from SPAIN by Jose Nunez de Caceres, and 3 months later , the newly independent Dominican state was invaded by the Haitians, just because they had an Army with over 20,000 troops and the Dominicans did not, since the independence was peaceful from Spain, The population of Dominicans at that time was about 80,000 compare to more than 600,000 Haitians with an Army and the desire to control the whole island by themselves and also to control the resources they needed to pay off the billion in debt to France. This Documentary is one side , showing the Dominicans and Haitians as the same , but the Dominicans are ignorant and stupid and Haitians proud of being Black, Which is so far from reality, Dr Gate just got the opinion of a few Dominicans that agreed with him, not the Majority and only went to black towns and areas and ignore the Mulatto Majority and white minority and ignore the Dominican mixed culture or people of , Asian, European and Arab heritage, everything was pointed to being Black and how ignorant and racist Dominicans are and how Good is to be a proud Haitians,
    We don’t feel Black , because we are mixed, we don’t feel white either,We don’t want to be from Spain, We gained our Independence from Spain in 1821 and Yes we are proud of our Colonial history and Spanish culture and language and also proud of our African culture rich in Music, food, and history but WE ARE DOMINICANS, not a color, but a mixed nation and Dr Gates don’t want to accept that, we are a mixed Latin American country , that had the horrible experience of having its independence taken by force by Haitians which brought horrors, abuse,exile, rape, killings and anger, and that is the root of the Haitian-Dominican problems, not Trujillo like this Documentary want to show.

  • Victoria

    The only time in Dominican-Haitians relationships in 200 years that the word ” BROTHERS” have been use by Haitians is now, since 2010 because of the horror of their devastating earthquake , now that the country is destroyed, they are looking for Dominican help, Now they are calling us ” Brother” before that it was pure hate, racism and distrust. This documentary is painting the Dominicans as the blacks that refuse to accept that they are blacks, The DR is a mixed country, We are Mulattos which mean of white and black heritage, and that’s what this Propaganda of Dr Gates ignore, if the Haitians are proud of being so black, well that;s great, In the meantime we will be proud of being mixed and Latin Americans, Just because we share the same island with Haitians does not make us the same, both Countries are proud of their heritage and cultures, and I think that is the best way to leave things , instead of shoving the American point of view of race on everybody else.
    And by the way Dr Gates , the Dominicans became an independent country in December 1st
    ,1821 before the Haitians invaded our country in 1822, Although the date celebrated as independence day is Feb 27th 1844, we were an independent state in 1821 from Spain . Spain formed our culture and nation, Not Haiti, The Haitians tried to kill us, and that is the reason for all the troubles,

  • Joel

    The comments on this forum show the division between Dominicans and Haitians, One proud of being Black and the other proud to be mixed. I just don’t understand what is the big deal??? Both Countries are different with different cultures,histories and languages, Why not leave it like it is , instead of bringing up all this hate.
    This documentary is just the point of view of an African American and does not take into consideration the point of view of other countries that have different ideas about colors and races mixing .For Dr Gate and the USA if you have 10% black blood ,then you are BLACK and that is all, and when he go to the DR and the people are 50/50 , well guess what??? he only see BLACKS in denial. But Dominican see themselves as MULATOS, proud of being mixed Latinos.

  • Diana

    For DR Gate and all the Haitians hating on Dominicans: Is the word Mulatto so hard to understand????.. That is what the majority of Dominicans are, 70% to be correct, and we are proud of that, we are happy to have African and Spanish culture, of our language , food, music, history everything Dominican, We are not in denial like some Haitians here are saying, We just feel like a mixed country, its what we are!! If the Haitians want to celebrate being black, well good for them, and remember that Haitians are 95% black and 5% Mulattos because Blacks killed all Haitians of French heritage, we never did anything like that to Dominicans of European heritage, we are not so racist like the Haitians are, we welcome people from all over the world ,including millions of ilegal Haitians that now leaving in the DR, the country that help them the most but the country that they love to hate the most.

  • Flavio

    Just watched it online. I agree with some of the detracting statements above but on balance appreciate Dr. Gates’ highlighting the history of Hispaniola and the other Latin countries. Curious why he didn’t touch on the British Colonies – perhaps because that Black experience is better known? Then again, the subject is ‘Latin America’. And broadly speaking, realizing how culturally/historically ignorant Americans are of such issues, he did a great service. To this day, some African Americans think they were the only slaves.

    I’m a Mulatto from the British W. Indies. Dr. Gates has approached this ‘Blackness’ from more of an American construct. The one-drop rule that I never realized until I moved here. My features are more ‘Latin’ looking so I’m not identified as Black visually by others. Back in college I was somewhat surprised that the P. Ricans & Dominicans I met (ones were obviously of mixed African heritage) seemed to think of ‘Hispanic’ as a race unto itself. The issues are more complex than Dr. Gates could put into a 1 hour made for TV documentary (Though as a Princeton Prof., you’d expect bit more rigid academic standards). I don’t want to deny either side of my heritage. But when it comes to acceptance, pretty sure Blacks/Africans would be more accepting of me than Whites even though I’m actually a bit more White.

    BTW … include Bob Marley in the list of all these famous Mulattoes.

  • Jon Anderson

    Seems that the film got a lot of things wrong about the Dominican Republic. This timeline for example reproduces what is a common misconception, that slavery in the DR was less burdensome, less “antagonistic” which simply is not true. The Spaniards killed off most of the Tainos and then proceeded to import slaves who also died off in great numbers. Their servitude was so harsh that they were compelled to rebel in 1522 — the first Slave Rebellion in the New World (another crucial date the timeline conveniently leaves out), and the slave wars continued for the rest of the century with extreme violence on both sides. Ask Enriquillo or any of the other numerous rebel leaders if they thought that slavery there was less antagonistic! Due to internal strife (the “devastaciones”) and external circumstances such as Piracy, the DR declined economically and slaves were no longer imported in significant numbers. But their place in society was never anything more than chattel. Really, this is such poor scholarship. Why is it North Americans so often fail to understand Latin American history? As for the issue of Dominicans accepting their African heritage, it is true, though it will be denied by many, that there is even today some resistance to the idea that Dominicans have an African root. Many prefer to think of themselves as white European (Spanish) or Taino –and these racial characteristics have certainly survived in much of the population. Though the 70s was a turbulent period of new ideas and progressive thinking about race and class, the island never had quite the same degree of black consciousness raising as was experienced in the States. No one went through the streets proclaiming, “Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m proud.” Nonetheless things began to change then, and they are changing even more today. Young Dominicans are not so hung up on their black heritage and many of them are proud of it. What looks like hesitation or self delusion (North Americans incessantly comment on the Dominican distinction between “pelo bueno” and “pelo malo”, for example), is often rather more complex. It may involve a repudiation of one’s African heritage or then again it may not. My wife wore an afro for a while and then she reverted to straightening her hair because that is the dominant mode. But she has no anxiety about her roots. She accepts them happily. On the other hand, blackness is still handled euphemistically in some instances — one never refers to a dark skinned person as “negro”; one uses the polite term, “moreno.” My point is that race relations and race definition are rather more complicated in Latin America and North Americans often fail to grasp the subtleties and the cultural dynamics. Gates spent too little time in DR to achieve adequate understanding, and since he doesnt speak the language and doesnt know Latin American history very well, he is at a disadvantage that can only cripple his analysis.

  • charles

    i’m a little amazed that so many latinos don’t seem to understand how race is defined in the states. if you have african ancestry, and you look like you have at least some (or might have some), that means ‘black’ in america. and that’s been the case for hundreds of years. i know people from latin american who migrate here, hate it, but it is what it is.
    when a typical american sees a dominican he’s gonna say that person is black, even if dominicans don’t call themselves that. about 25% or 13 million latinos in america are afro-latinos but only about 1 million self-identify as black. so you can see the resistance here on this racial identity issue.
    african americans who are mostly white identify as black because that’s how america determines race, and african americans accept that with a great amount of ‘black’ pride. but the conceprt of black pride really doesn’t exist in latin america. what you really want is to be honorary europeans.

  • READ


  • Max A.

    After reading some of the comments made by Dominicans, I have concluded that self-hatred runs deep in that country. Help is on the way. The island will one day be whole again and these aspiring Caucasians will finally get to see the light.

  • Maryeg

    Toress-Salliant: El Retorno de la Yolas

    “La meta por lograr en los años venideros ha de ser ayudar al pueblo dominicano a reconocerse en la genuina complejidad de su ser. Los cuidadanos futuros deberán ser capaces de verse y amarse en su herencia africana …”

  • cimar ron


  • Cristo

    This is really such a small thing when you consider the bigger problems that we as humanity and a planet face or are oblivious to.

  • Shana

    Many of the individuals upset I notice are of Dominican heritage. I find it sad and disheartening that the self-hatred has taken over their country. It is understandable that people don’t want to say they are just black when they are mixed or they are White but say if that is the case say I am mulatto, I am black,I am mestizo, or I am white. But, many of the people in the documentary and even those that I have met totally deny their African ancestry. I don’t think Mr. Gates is preaching “I’m Black and I’m Proud”, but to be truthful to yourself. Dominican is a nationality, not a race. Be proud of who you are and the skin you are in.

  • ffellini

    The timeline presented is even more biased than Dr. Gates’ documentary. The numerous Haitian invasions to the Eastern side of Hispaniola during the 19th Century are not mentioned at all. Even though all of them resulted in more deaths than Trujillo’s inexcusable massacre. Even though on at least 5 occasions the Eastern side was invaded militarily after declaring its independence from Haiti, becoming the Dominican Republic in 1844.

    We may not be as “purely black” as the Haitians became after killing or expelling all the whites and mulattoes.

    But hey, look at us now: one country has managed to prosper. While the other is the most miserably failed state this side of the Atlantic.

    What a waste…

  • PJ Jimenez

    Being born in the Dom. Rep. and having a light skinned father and a dark skinned mother, I’m still amazed at the Dominicans nit picking your work because they still don’t believe they are black. There are no true caucasian Dominicans on the island of Hispañola. I traveled four times to DR in 2011 and I had many conversations with different countrymen and I came to the conclusion that the country is still stuck in a third world mentality that abuses their women and the poor. There are some in DR that still want to celebrate the life of Trujillo while still languishing in poverty. Dominicans need a history lesson. Your documentary was a good as Junot Diaz’s The Brief And Wonderous Life Of Oscar Wao. Sometimes the truth hurts!

  • Marquesa

    “Being black and American I say “black” first its my identity but my roots have native american, white, and african in my background. I have pride in being what I am. Spain is Europe it will never be African like the DR will never be Europeans.”

    “You have dark skin wide noses full lips but you claim to be “indo” just another word to confuse the mind. You are an african scattered aboard like All of us brown people. Stop being full of shame and embrace who you are. ”

    Mekko. Why is it ok for YOU to claim “black” if you are mixed, but a Dominican claiming to be “indio” is “just another word to confuse the mind”? That sounds so one-sided of you. Like You can, but no one else is allowed. Por Dios. As time goes on I develop this hatred towards all things from the US. They are self-centered and arrogant. They can ALWAYS do something, but when someone else is doing it………. no. Listening to some of those people does nothing for me. If you TRULY want to “Stop being full of shame and embrace who you are”, then be “native american, white, and african” which is what you just said you are.

    Dominicans probably are not reading what you are saying as most still speak Spanish. Those that speak English are not all picking apart your hypocrisy. And most African Americans want to coerce Latinos to go beyond just accepting their African-ness (which most do) and JUST be “black” so they can claim higher numbers as they dwindle down to nothing. The largest group of African-descended people outside of Africa is the LATINO CROWD. Not only WEST African, but East and North as well……. more than the US. What’s happening is that the US wants to be the only ones who dictate history and culture to the rest of us. We’re more than you. Remember that. Eventually Mexicans will become so dominant that ignoring Latinos will be difficult. This whole Zimmerman thing, while it has several dynamics going on, is proof that many are just UNCOMFORTABLE with us around. We don’t mind you, but many of you seem to mind us. Whenever something goes on with us, we opt to not say anything against US African American. The other way around? Forget it. They will sit there and demand, demand, demand. Latinos need to start “demanding” stuff also. It’s getting ridiculous to be painted with YOUR racist brush. The one that the U.S. painted you with. Our nations all got rid of slavery with independence. Mind you, Latino INCLUDES Haiti & Brazil. The U.S. kept the whole thing moving along.

    Getting your information from a bunch of “yes” people who will say whatever you want them to say is not helping you understand us. This is what Dr. Gates has done. He’s sought out those who will tell him what he needs to hear. If you have watched African-American Lives, you will notice that he is NOT SATISFIED WITH BEING OF EUROPEAN ORIGIN (He’s half and half). He HAD to go and GET a number that felt COMFORTABLE for him. He HAD to be more “BLACK” than anything else. Is that NOT ACCEPTING WHO YOU REALLY ARE? I think so. He’s part European. Deal with it. NOT “Black”. He’s MIXED.

    Leave us the heck alone already with your uninformed thoughts and backwards ideas. Just wait until WE start reconstructing who we are. We won’t allow you to destroy our Latino-ness because you want to be racist and forever live by some SLAVERY-endorsed “one-drop” rule.

    Latinos, levantensen ya. Los eeuu son unos loco pariguayos.

  • hasan asmar ali

    remenber without Africa none of this would be? our blood runs deep accept who you are you will always be my people god is good we all are mixed

Support for provided by:



Produced by WNET    ©2014 WNET. All Rights Reserved.