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Timeline: Haiti & the Dominican Republic

  • 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.

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