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Timeline: Mexico & Peru

  • Peruanista

    This is great, thank you for including the history of Afro Peruvians, historically hidden in the educational programs in Peru.

    Today, racism against Blacks in Peru is present in our society, where most Peruvians think they are white European descendants, even if most of us are either of Indigenous (Native American) and African heritage, and the mix with other immigrants from all over the world, including Asians.

    Blacks in Peru have contributed greatly to our culture, our religions, food, music, dance and education. Peru would not be the culturally rich nation is today, without the contributions of Afro descendants, who according to local NGOs represent about 8-10% of the national population.

    One only complain: the Hispanic invaders that arrived in the XVI century were not conquistadores (a term that glorifies their actions). The first Spaniards and Portuguese that arrived to this continent, were true criminals in majority, and they committed the biggest genocide in human history. They were invaders, not conquistadores.

    But we survived, we are here, the so called Latinos are mostly Native Americans and African descendants. We need to learn our history, so humanity can work for a better world of peace and equality for all. Thanks PBS and Professor Gates for this extraordinary work.

  • Doc

    I have always felt when the powers that be tried to teach latins in America to hate blacks many capitulated basically they were being taught to hate themselves….get educated

  • V.Lake

    Thank you for this documentary Dr. Gates, but I have a concern.
    I’m not seeing any coverage of blacks in Colombia, which has a significant black population especially along the coast. If I’m not mistaken, there were communities of free slaves along the coast as early as the 18th century, and the national dance, the Cumbia, is derived from an African/slave courtship ritual. Colombia has a rich, African history, which is not addressed in this documentary as far as I can see. What happened???

  • Leo Mendez

    Why are Colombia, Argentina, Belize(West Indies) however, Central America, Puerto-Rico, Ecuador, Panama not mentioned?????

  • del

    Louis gates forgot to mention estavanico another black conquistador from Mexico and that at least 1/3 of the conquistador were African or black ancestry. because the Spanish and Portuguese did not practice racism as we know it, back in those days all they cared about was if you were a good soldier or if you had talent no matter where they found it. but another reason is because the moors ruled Spain for 800 years and at least more then half of them were black ancestry, all the the Spanish did was baptize the moors into Christianity so it left a lot of blacks in Spain. but i like the rest of the time line it is good knowledge Americans don’t know about.

  • Alycia Janifer

    Other South American countries may not be mentioned because originally they were all apart of the Viceroyalty of Peru during the colonial era.

  • Mexicano Nolatino

    I am a litlle baffled by the whole idea..ok bring awareness that there is African blood in SouthAmerica yes, Relevant to the Author? sure. An issue in Mexico? hardly I must confess that I learned about all these “differences” in USA. Blacks and Whites alike…before that we are all just a different shade of brown in my country. We Identify with our Country, not our mixed blood(we all are mixed) We get so into Cutural Identity, we forget there is ONE race: HE HUMAN RACE. Culture is about the habits, language, geographic location, etc of some ethnic group not about what color my skin is. This type of shows reinforce segregation and I cannot agrred to that.

  • AL

    Peru is only 2% afro Peruvian not 8%, only a small minority.

  • Dr. Marco Polo Hernandez Cuevas
  • Tia Night Eagle

    Well it’s good to see your great work’s acknowledged here.. I met you on the street in Oaxaca, Feb.-Mar 2003 when we were doing our field study from Evergreen State College,, would have loved to sit in on your music class,, but my Prof had said ‘no’… don’t know when I startedd listening to authority figure’s,,, lol..
    Tia Night Eagle
    currently in Lahaina Maui

  • Peruanista

    AL, there have been studies where the estimates go from 8% to even 15% of the population. Because of racism, many Afro Peruvians may deny their blackness, or even society would not consider someone who is of mixed heritage as a Afro descendant.

  • Malu

    Trying to rewrite history again! Read the book 1491– Indians are decented from Asian who travel all of the Western Hemispher and left their RICH culture — asthe Spanish, of the White Caucasian Race who settle the New Land, too.
    Blacks did not achieve much in the New World as in Africa where the blacks were sold by their leaders to the Europeans and imported to the Western World. Blacks ended up in Panama when President Roosevelt demanded the Black Panama Canal laborers from the USA be LEFT there !

    If there is any contribution by the Black in Latin America- not for a documentary – and no — Latin Americans are not part Black.
    A proud Latin,

  • Anthony Chatman

    Its about time someone started to wake the New World up!

  • manuel galas

    The timeline needs to be corrected. The interest in Afro_Peruvian music in the 60s was thanks to Santa Cruz family (specially the late Nicomedes, and his sister Victoria – still singing and dancing or Black Peruvian music, as the Peruvians called).

  • latinaq

    Read the interview with Dr.Gates, he addresses the issues that faced him as he had to decide how to represent his work — he acknowledges that he would have liked to address all of the south american countries as well as the carribean. But he had only 4 hours and limited funding. Please take the time and read his interview and why he put this documentary together — and his plans for a follow up to this series.

  • morris jackson

    I am so happy that this information has been revealed. I have researched this information for some time. My mother side is creole from Louisiana and after the civil war some creole were thrown out and the migrated to Mexico and place like alcapoco, Monterey, oaxca, michucan and many African were involved in Mexico freedom. There president was was part African , Spanish and native American. You can see the African in the people of Libya,Egypt, Tunisia, Spain, southern Italy, Armenia, Israel,Yemen, Saudi Arabia, India, Philippines, vietnam, Thailand, southern China, pacific islands……etc. now, not all were slaves.

  • janette smith

    Thank you PBS and Dr. Gates,

    the mention and attributions you have given to the topic on BLACK IN LATIN AMERICA. The resources were just a perfect dose of information about the America’s Afro-Hispanic history. Yes, African’s were brought thoughout the America’s continent and there is no equality within our own latin communities. This subject is not un-known, you would be living under a rock not to see the inequality in every community. It is sad but true. So, if viewers do not see that their own county was not mentioned, they just did by openening up this forum.

    Thank you again,

  • AL

    I highly doubt it’s 8% to 15%, Most sources put the afro Peruvian population around 2% which I believe is correct. there were never many slaves in Peru.

    Peru is a mostly Amerindian and Mestizo (Indian and white mix) like most hispanic countries.

  • AL

    Peruanista, Peru like most other hispanic countries is mostly Amerindian and/or Mestizo(indian and white mix) over 80%, only 2% afro, which is what most sources and studies come up with.

  • al

    I still just believe the sources, Peru is only around 3% afro, Peru is mostly Amerindian and Mestizo(Indian and white) like most other hispanic countries.

  • Peruvian

    Love love your work!!!! and totaly agree with (Peruanista)

  • Peruseed

    Al, in Lima alone during colonial times there were 6 blacks per 1 white person according to Historian Fernando Romero. Peru received more slaves than any caribbean country with the exception of Cuba, Haiti and DR.

  • Peruvian

    Thank you PBS and Dr. Gates,

    Love love your work and totally agree with (Peruanista).

  • Don’t Forget Acapulco

    Thank you for doing this series on Blacks in Latin America but especially for this one regarding Mexico. My whole life I grew up with Mexican people denying that there are even black people in the region. Just the other day my daughter (12 years old) had a friend of hers whose family is from Northern Mexico say to her “There are no black people in Mexico” my daughter felt awwed that in 2011 people are still so ignorant. She asked her Grandmother, who is Afro Mexicana from Guerrero, to come to class, the girl apologized to my daughter and has started to read more about the history of Mexico. This is an entertaining way to educate people on the contributions of black people in latin america. It’s a blessing. Thanks again for the series Dr. Gates and PBS. And for educating and creating understanding. Your awesome!

  • Isabel

    Thank you PBS for showing documentaries such as this! This has been an enjoyable series and it is wonderful to learn more about our history as Latin Americans…even if some of that history is quite painful it is important to be aware of and Dr. Gates does an excellent job of making us curious to learn more. Very much looking forward to seeing the rest!

  • Luis

    Mexico was the first to abolish slavery.

  • Mimis5kids

    For those that don’t accept their African ancestory and you don’t like/agree with Dr. Gates’ study wait until you see this (scientific) study that was done using DNA.

  • oscar nikolov

    Ay Dios mio.

  • Yvonne

    I would think there are hundreds of black communities up and down the east coast of Central America and South America. My husband is from Peten, Guatemala and he tells me of communities on the east coast of Guatemala that have blacks and speak a dialect of spanish and an African language?

  • al

    Peruseed, That was Lima at one time, Lima now like the rest of the country is mostly either Mestizo(amerindian-white) or pure Amerindian, My point is Peru has a very small black population percentage wise around 3%.

  • Rios

    To Manu, you got to read more than one book. Das vergüenza. Are you blind? Latinos are black, white, brown, and other colors and flavors. Celia Cruz? Pele? Sammy Sosa? Gilbert arenas? Zoe saldaña?
    Al, are u denying ur blackness? Te decian negrito?

  • Alfredo

    Malu, you read the wrong book about Panama. Both set of my grandparents arrived in Panama from Jamaica (not the U.S.). Others came from Barbados, Trinidad and other West Indian islands. There were also Greeks, Italians, East European Jews, etc. If there were any, black Americans, they were few, as the overwhelming majority of Americans were white.

    It would be nice of Prof. Gates to visit Panama. It is not perfect, but among Latin American countries blacks have had more participation in politics, government and the judicial system. In addition to those of us of West Indian descent, therecare descendants of original slaves brought to Panama by the Spaniards in the 16th century. Bayano and Felipillo led rebellions against the Spaniards, established communities of “cimarrones” who lived free of Spanish rule in some areas.

    Before you speak of other countries you may be well served to visit them and learn their history. Panama also has a large segment of population of Chinese descent, dating back to the 1850’s who helped build the Panama Railroad, which predates the Panama Canal.

  • Ivan Martinez

    Hello all,

    I have been following the series on PBS and love it. I love to hear and get new information about our culture and our people… the latino culture that is… I come from a Mexican background being that my Mother is from Michoacan and my Father from Mexico City. Through out the years and stories from my abuelita I have heard of information regarding African slaves in Mexico and would like to know if someone would elaborate on it. It is to my understanding that a huge reason for the revolt in Texas with the Mexican government when Texas was still a part of Mexico was because Mexico made slavery illegal and the slave holders were not to happy with the idea… Also came to find out that the underground railroad did not only go north but it also went south to Mexico where slavery had been abolished.

  • David

    What might work in America will not work in Latin America. You forgot to mention that many African Slaves took part in the genocide of many Indigenous of people in The Americas, and Mexico. While I do recognize, and point out that Mexico does have an Afro-Mexican past; in today’s society-People know what Blacks did to The Aztecs, and every other indigenous in Mexico. I don’t know what your obsession is with race, but before you try to tell the story of the glorious past of Africans in Mexico, tell the whole story of the murders in Veracruz, and the rape of many Indigenous women, and how they took part with Spanish Conquistadors to hunt, and kill any Indian that revolted against The Spanish and African Invaders.

  • Diego Mamani

    I think that Peruanista is spewing hate towards our Spanish heritage. In countries like Peru, we have Andean (or “Indian”), Spanish, and African heritage, not to mention Chinese, Japanese, and Italian influences. We can’t disparage what is Spanish or Andean or African, without being ridiculous. It would be like hating a parent and denying the biological and cultural package they passed on to you.

  • Andy

    Malu there is a book that you should read , “They came before Columbus”, by Dr. Ivan Van Sertima Of Rutgers University. There is so much history that is twisted or not known we all must open our minds. This is good stuff and as with all history bears more thought and personal research.

  • al

    Diego, Peru has very little african ancestry and/or admixture, Peru like most other hispanic countries is of mainly Native american ancestry and Mixed native american and white(Mestizo). And no I’m not denying that there are no black hispanics, but Most hispanics (Mexicans, Colombians,Hondurans,Ecuadorians etc.) are Either Mestizo or Amerindian.

  • Quita Que Te Tumbo

    Timeline: Peru

    I don’t see the name of “Luis Miguel Sanchez Cerro”, president of Peru from 1931 to 1933. He was the first Peruvian president to have native Peruvian as well as African blood. (

  • Alex Guzman

    I have to be honest and say that I am from the State of Veracruz and that the first time I saw a black person in my life (in person) was at the LA Airport when we were taken by our parents to visit Disneyland. For us (brother, sister and myself)) it was a real shock, been 12 or 13 y.o. and had seen black people only in the ‘american’ Tarzan movies it was a real discovery. Even today is rare to see african people walking the streets fo Mexico without the locals turning their heads after them. I’m quite sure there were some peope of african descent in the past, but by now, they are pretty well mixed with the indian population that it’s hard to make a difference. Probably Mexico is the land of the real so called ‘melting pot’.

  • Tupac Peru

    Though there is racism in many countries in Peru and south America it is more institutinal than social. Hate crimes are extremely rare, racial hatre in minimal as compared to the USA. I have lived in Peru for 10 years and own a home in northern Peru in a beach town named Pimentel.

    Many mistake classism for racism. Peru has been the most pleasant place to live in my 57 years on this planet.
    Yes their are issues with race in Peru, but there is not the racial stigma to deal with on a daily basis. There are rarely stories in the press of racial violence or hatre. The issue in Peru are economics and classism, about money.
    Blacks fall at the bottom of the list along with the indigenous.
    But in many of the customs and cultures being black is celebrate, the dance the Saya and the scissors dance.
    The is the black saint san martin deporres, who performed miracles and is celebrate in October of every year. There are black enclaves through out Peru, north and south, Chincha a town near the Ica desert locate near the famous lines of Nazca, cooton plantation were abundant here. Ther is Zana in norther Peru, where the where many sugar plantations, near the port of the beach town Pimentel , my second home. Peru is fascinating and there is a rich black culture. The food, the people, the culture.

  • Yemmie

    I am an African-American descendant of mixed race Afro-Mexicans who came to the southern U.S. during the U.S Civil War to fight in the USCTs. I’m hoping that this documentary will give me some insight on the history of the African people who may have lived in what is today known as Mexico and the African descended people who came to live in Mexico and Spanish territory from American slave states and Indian slaveholding nations, ie the Five Civilized Tribes via the Underground Railroad.

  • Yemmie

    I’m curious as why there is such a strong denounciation of African influence on culture, religion and genetic makeup by people who self identify as Latin Americans on every comment section that I have seen regarding this series? Please remember that just because Dr. Gates is disucussing a specific aspect of Latin American/World culture doesn’t mean he’s disregarding any other parts of that culture. He’s choosing to focus on a specific aspect. I think that its ironic that some of the same people who would be decrying the removal of Latin American and ethnic studies in American states such as Arizona and Texas are the same people who are doing the same thing to African history in Central and South America. How does that make the opponents of this documentary appear to act like? Just something to think about.

  • Asha

    David. you might also want do some research on the genocide of Slaves by Caribs anad Arawaks in the Orinoco Delta of South America. Not that the genocide of the Aztecs was acceptable, but why not lay blame where it is due? It’s as if you have failed to realize that it was maipulation by whites that led to the destruction and devastation of our people.

  • Lalito

    I agree with Diego, the portray of Spaniards as evil, is wrong. If that was true, so everybody else would be evil, Germans, Japanese, Americans and even Mayans and Incas. We, humans, tend to conquer other people, and that is our nature. We all do it, every single nation and I am sure even african kindomgs did it too. It is a horrible reality but is part of our human nature not a spaniard nature and being black in Peru is very different that being black in the US. In the US even to have the smallest trait of african descendence makes you black in Peru not, many people that have large african physical traits do not considere themselves as blacks…..

  • al

    Diego, Peru has very little african heritage and population, Peru is mostly a Amerindian and Mestizo(Indian-white mix) Nation.

  • Cubanaso

    In reply to Malu.
    I don’t understand what you mean by your comment: “Blacks did not acheive much in the New World”. Clearly, Blacks have achieved very much in the New World and provided much to Latin American as well as North American culture.
    Your comment about Blacks being left in Panama strikes me as racist.

  • oscaroliverjr

    Great comment alfredo, I’m a proud west indian panamanian, grand parents from jamaica and barbados, I love that in panama we have been able to keep our culture so much so that jamaicans alway say to me you’re from panama oh you come from yaad :-) thanx to prof gates I love that he started great convo…. black culture is often ignored and racism sweaped under the rug in the name of country and fake laws that prohibit segregation but are not resolving issues of prejudice. In america people believe that in latin america people don’t see color or ethnicity, but this is a lie because racism is everywhere. Panama has influed the region in many ways reggeton is comes from panama spanglish reggae seen a testament to our west indian roots…. big up Rio Abajo & Concepsion Juan Diaz Panama City 507

  • oscaroliverjr

    In USA many native americans had black slaves, and felt superior to folk of african descent. An example of this is the seminole and the seminole negro. Read “our land before we die” the story of the seminole negro, by jeff guinn. Many cultures portray the african and the descendants of africans as savages and workers of witch craft which is not so david and diego mamani. We all know that the europeans which ever type they were mixed whit native and africans in fact we know native indians were slaves before africans but they died from diseases introduced by europeans. The point here is educating people of the beauty of african culture that is found all over latin america and that we are a proud people and we can live equally side by side because our culture was key in making latin america what it is today. No africas there would be no panama canal, coffee, sugar cane, banana, rail roads in costa rica nicaragua and honduras. African people are responsible considerable amounts of the latin american economy we built latin america no other culture was strong enough to carry out this labor from wich we never benefited from.

  • oscaroliverjr

    Kalimba and his sis from OV7 are black mexicans….

  • Byo

    you seem to want to expose your ignorance repeatedly on this blog-you need to read the history as documented by scholars. Or maybe you are just in denial about the African influence on central and south america.
    Prof Gates has done a seminal work on the history of the region, and all you seem hung on is to deny the contribution of African people on the continent.

  • lara

    I happen to be one of the 10% white raised in Lima, Peru BUT I never thought of myself as white-german/spaniard or caucasian, only Peruvian or Latina now that I live abroad. I never understood why older citizens would think less of afro-peruvians or native peruvians, and these were the same individuals who would go to church all the time and preech the Bible (the country is mostly catholic). Growing up we learnt that God love us all no matter color or skin of size or gender, and that we are all brothers, so what a contradiction to see these people insulting and avoiding blancs and indians!!! Thankfully younger generations don’t share these ideas: we are less religious and more open minded and nobody would like a white skin, we all want a nice dark sun-kissed skin!!. Besies that, there is this traditional phrase “el que no tiene de inga tiene de mandinga” which translates into “if you don’t have Indian in you, then you have Black in you”, i.e. we are all a blend of varius races, therefore we have no right to discriminate or claim being white only.

  • Gloria Huerta

    Thank you Dr. Gates for this wonderful program. A few years ago, in philadelphia, I came across an exibition called the African presence in Mexico. Altought I grew up in Mexico I had never heard about the african american, I was surprised but i knew it was true when i recognize the mexican faces in the exhibition. I loved what I saw and wanted to share it with others, specially my latin american history professor who always mention cuba and brazil in relation to slavery but never Mexico! I was shocked to find out in that exhibition that Miguel Hidalgo, the leader of the mexican independence movement, was a mulato! In history classes in Mexico we always got the impresion that he was a white spaniard. I tried to look at the sources from that exhibition and the book that came with it and I found that there was little out there discussing Mexico’s third root. This is the first time since then I come across this information. I can’t wait to share it with my mother!

  • Fuva18

    Very interesting, illuminating series. Even if some of Dr. Gates’ comments and reactions are…interesting…as usual. Guess even the analysts have issues. Nevertheless, thanks.

  • dulce tapia

    well im from mexico city i just want to ,thank you for make this programs is very educational, its good to know about our roots,, and embrace the wonderfull gift we sharewith black ancestry ,i have to said is really sad, after all eforts from our funders fathers to gave freedom ,equality, education, progress, no just indigenous people, black people as well,there is a deny from ourselfs to feel proud of whom we are, we are a mix race, and we have to honour our anscestries, I have the hope all the stereotypes finished, and instead to worry about colors or diferences of race, sex ; we must be worry about our future as one, as human being. and focus in achieve great things in the future for all us and the next generation.

  • J.Glasgow

    Once again Mr Gates a fabulous job done on an important series! I am a Black, Canadian of West Indian descent living in Canada. An idea for your next series….”Black in Canada”.
    As I watched Father Glyn Jemmott Nelson speak on his experience in Costa Chica, Mexico I wondered if he realized the great impact his work will have on raising the consciousness and self esteem of the Afro- Mexican people.
    You are now the “Grandmaster of Genealogy”, so why didn’t NBC have you create an original series on the subject rather than the recycled “Who Do You Think You Are?” Anyway, a top for discussion another time.
    Continue to do exceptional, important work.

    A long-time fan in Canada.

  • Mestiza

    I really was intrigued by this show, Mexico & Peru: The Black Grandma in the Closet, and I did feel like I learned so much. I knew that this existed.
    However, I feel that the main premise of this show/series is a simple yet well thought out attempt to get the voting numbers of the Hispanic population in the United States. It appeared to me that the main issue of the show was to gain sympathetic feelings, or to foster the feelings of a relationship between Blacks (who are mainly/often Democratic) and the Hispanics.
    Slavery in the U.S. was often mentioned, so was the mixture of races, and they even went so far as to mention Obama. Also, there were some commercials played and immediately following the show was the clip showing the “heroic” looking Obama revealing that Bin Laden had been killed…
    I just felt that the producers and all involved with this production had political motivation.
    It is a shame that they had to put that touch of a political slant on an absolutely wonderful and insightful program. Although I do feel that this was the main goal of the show, I cannot help but to be drawn in to watch the other shows, to see the people of our own side of the world, who they are, what they do, all they have to offer, etc.
    Our own western hemisphere has so much to offer.

  • Lisette Lopez

    I am proud to be Mexican. It’s sad to see that through our educational system in Mexico a lot of important information is simply ommited. I am grateful to Dr. Gates and PBS for bringing this up to the table.

  • william

    Susana Baca? really??? that is so late in the timeline… what about Lucha Reyes???

    Someone forgot to mention Victoria Santa Cruz and Nicomedes Santa Cruz in this timeline. Nicomedes contributions to the development of Peruvian poetry and music along with Victoria’s intellectual and philosophical contributions should be noted. These Peruvian giants were making giant steps way back in the 1940s and 50s but your timeline mentions none of this. Micaela Bastidas was of Afro-Andean origin and the wife of Tupac Amaru II. Both fought against Spanish rule in 1780 along with Afro and Andean revolutionaries. None of this in the timeline.

    No mention of Francisco Chichima, one of the first African slaves to lead a slave uprising in Peru 1600s.
    No mention of Maria Elena Moyano, Afroperuvian socialist leader executed by Shinning Path in 1992.

    Wake up people!

  • CSeguinBarnes

    OMG…Al, you sound like a broken record on how most of Peru is Amerindian or Mestizo. Have you ever been to Peruvian cities like Cañete? I recommend your read “The African Slave in Colonial Peru, 1524-1650″ by Frederick P Bowser, so you can learn about the Slave trade in the America’s and how it all began in Peru. I am so grateful for this documentary series. It explained so much of what I had already observed from being around different Latin cultures of all races and seeing how they perceived themselves. It offends me that in the United States everyone with roots from below the border are automatically lumped in to the category “latino” regardless of the race. It confuses Americans to think that we are all the same race and we are not, we are either a combination of many or specifically White, Asian, Black or Native (Amerindian). I’m so sorry that I missed the Peruvian Black in Latin America. This was the most important documentary I wanted to see because my father is from Peru of French, Spanish, Portuguese and Amerindian descent and I was lucky to have lived there during my adolescence to know what the culture was like. I was married to a blonde, blue eyed Peruvian that was completely multi-racial with obvious Afro-Peruvian and Chinese features besides the blond blue eyed European traits, but they would never admit the Afro part of their ancestry. The mother who had the Afro genes was the most racist of all. I’m trying to find the video online and stumbled upon this discussion blog. Thank you Professor Gates.

  • Lanceindc

    I’m surprise that Dr. Gates did not mention Ivan Van Sertima’ s book ” They Came Before Columbus”, which talks about the African presence in the New World long before slavery. If you have not read this book please do so; it should be required reading in school. In addition there was no mention of the Pyramids in Mexico and thier relationship to the Pyramids in Egypt-Africa.

  • E-REX

    I am very much impressed with these documentaries but I feel that the series is incomplete; the rest of latin america needs to be included. I would very much like to see Puerto Rico added to this series because if there’s one latin american country that has been greatly affected by the issue of race, it is Puerto Rico.

  • Khadijah

    I enjoyed this series, as usual a great job by Dr. Gates.
    Being a resident of Texas, I can attest to the fact that most Mexicanos, have a problem with color. As with most colonized people, there is the issue that lighter skin provides a means to be more accepted, etc. Just look at Mexican television, most of the newscasters look White! Also I have seen terrible stereotypes of Blacks on Mexican TV and in Mexican comic books. I live in a mixed neighborhood in Houston. It is in transition and I find my new Hispanic neighbors to be standoffish, aloof and just not friendly to the long time Black homeowners. What’s up with that?!

  • Daniela

    Thank you, Dr. Gates, for this series. I think you well achieved your purpose in making us more aware of how African culture has affected life in all of the Americas. I’ve spent a lot of time in Mexico and from my observation, race and class discrimination is quite prevalent. (Indians are looked down upon also.)

    It’s important to have programming like this. One thing that must be remembered: Black history has been kept from white folks as much as it has been kept from black folks through the years.

  • Matt

    Mexicano Nolatino is completely right. We really are just humans. The problem is that educators are currently teaching afro-centric beliefs. Afro-centric teachings are not right nor are they wrong, it is just another theory about who we may be. It is no more right or wrong than any other theory of who we are, it is just a theory.
    Educators forget that although the human race may have started in an area we now call Africa, there were other humans that lived side by side with Homo sapiens, such as Homo neanderthalensis (neanderthals), Homo erectus and possibly Homo heidelbergensis and Homo ergaster. I say “possibly” because conclusions have not yet been reached. My point is that regardless of “where” we come from or what we are accustomed to we are all still HUMANS.

  • James Garcia

    WOW eye openning for sure Mr Gates thank you very much and also the folks at PBS for bringing this to masses.
    A great piece of work for sure. Well I can say this made lots of sense to me as I to have learned, that the only spanish thing about me is the name of former slave masters. I’m from Trinidad myself and by doing a little reseach found out I’m Black-/East Indian-/Native Islander and just a small part spanish but not enough to wave the flag of Spanish pribe as many of my brothers and sisters throughout the Carribbean and south America will proudly do just to fit in with society and distance themselves from anything BLACK and or Native. As those types of people are viewed as Ugly, Lazy, and Crimminals. All you have to do is look at what they find funny or comedy on their TV’s and it’s very clear that they don’t like black. But most of them are socked when the get here and find out they are not considered WHITE at all and they themselves face many new stereotypes. You’d think they would learn but NOOOOOO Men are evil simply as that. Love the skin you are in but don’t hate another because he looks different from you how simple it that to understand??? Come on People when will this stop? Get to know others before you hand out judgement. Once again THANKS PBS and MR Gate. I will support by buying the DVDes hope to see more of this. Gob Bless.
    True history can never been hidden for to long.

  • James Garcia

    WOW eye openning for sure Mr Gates thank you very much and also the folks at PBS for bringing this to masses.
    A great piece of work for sure. Well I can say this made lots of sense to me as I to have learned, that the only spanish thing about me is the name of former slave masters. I’m from Trinidad myself and by doing a little reseach found out I’m Black-/East Indian-/Native Islander and just a small part spanish but not enough to wave the flag of Spanish pribe as many of my brothers and sisters throughout the Carribbean and south America will proudly do just to fit in with society and distance themselves from anything BLACK and or Native. As those types of people are viewed as Ugly, Lazy, and Crimminals. All you have to do is look at what they find funny or comedy on their TV’s and it’s very clear that they don’t like black. But most of them are shocked when the get here and find out they are not considered WHITE at all and they themselves face many new stereotypes. You’d think they would learn but NOOOOOO Men are evil simply as that. Love the skin you are in but don’t hate another because he looks different from you how simple it that to understand??? Come on People when will this stop? Get to know others before you hand out judgement. Once again THANKS PBS and MR Gate. I will support by buying the DVDes hope to see more of this. Gob Bless.
    True history can never been hidden for to long.

  • afromexicano is my name

    Thanks for such a wonderful documentary , im a afromexicano, i was born in las costa chica, one the most populated regions with African descents in Mexico, yes there is alot ignorance going along being a afromexican, i have relatives who look more black than anything and they still denying their african roots , i find it funny and sad, i tried to educate em but it s long battle, im so proud of my roots, and i m looking forward for the day we are recognize as afromexican, yes im black and yes im mexican, they said is not possible, i said is a living reality, thank for an outstanding work

  • itzel

    This one is for Malu. Malu, grab a book and read. Your history is extremely screwed up. I am hoping (for your sake) that your comments are intended to provoke, and that in reality you don’t believe what you posted.

  • vladimirhammerstein

    The laws of nature makes us all equal. This documentary is not about racism or so, it just teach us about the negro influence in all America, not just USA. It is fabulous the multicultural breed in Latin America, we all latinos know, now they are realizing in the USA that they are not alone.

  • Yolanda Hayes


    Thank you for your series on Blacks in Latin America I really enjoyed it I feel sorry for those people who deny the fact that because of african slaves being taken all over the world @ the time there is black blood in alot of people Why people of Latino decent or any other race want to deny part of their heritage is crazyit is important in this day and age to expose the continual racisim against those who are either African american or Afro mixed in any other part of the world people need to realize that just because your skin is light or white does not and I repeat does not make you superior against any other race that may be darker than you it is a shame that anybody has a hang up about their skin color because if other races no matter which one it was did not go meddling in the country of AFRICA then we wouldn’t have the mix of people oh yea I’m part african,part french white and part indian on both sides of my family.

  • Jim Friend

    Bravo again Professor Gates for exposing racism wherever you find it ! This show “La Mama Negro” in Peru is the most Racist thing I have ever seen on TV and the treatment of the local Afro-Peruvians who are protesting it is horrific ! This show must be taken down immediately and I pray that all of our fair-minded Latino brothers and sisters join the fight eradicate this hateful show that spreads a 500 year-old LIE that Blacks are dumb, ugly, and dangerous when the opposite–smart, beautiful, and peaceful has been demonstarted over and over again.

  • Africano

    My parents are African and eventhough I was born in America I always considered myself to be an African. This is because the African culture is rich, beautiful and is so different. In America when we learn about Black history we are not taught about Black Latinos and their struggles. As I watched this video I thought that Blacks in America historically have had it bad, but the Afro-Latinos have it worse. At least us blacks in America have a better chance at success and we are able to shine a light on racism and people listen. After watching this documentary I am very happy that a new world has been opened to me, though I did know that their were black people on Latin America but I didn’t know of their contribuitons to the culture and history of some of these countries. It makes me angry as someone of direct African descent that some of these countries think its ok to say that Africans did not contribute to the history and culture, when esspecially in the music it is so evident. The rhythms of some of the musical styles such as salsa, merengue and even tejano are also very evident in African music. Another thing that makes me angry is the discrimination against Afro-Latinos, these people have contributed greatly to the culture, history and the economy of these countries and they should be seen as equal and not as second class citizens. After watching this documentary I can say that I am feel even more pride in my African ancestery knowing what it gave to other parts of the world.

  • teresa d

    I have always known of blacks were and are a part of latin culture. I was born and raised in L. A. when we blacks were not so hated by the latino communities. My children are part of these cultures. Some resemble me some their father. I moved away from L.A. in 1981, never thinking how ugly things had gotten because of the hatred that is so very visible toward blacks. i did find out. Not knowing me, my character, or where I came from most Hispanics would not even speak. That pained me. It still pains me. I never knew it grownig up and going to Catholic school. Thank you so very much for your show. Most if not all of the Latin countries have African/Black blood running through their veins. They hate and fear themselsves. We are part of them and they are part of us. No skin color, eye color, hair texture, hair color, can change who we, or you are.
    Thanks You.
    BUT just like Obama”s birth certificate no one wants the truth.

  • Sameerah M El-Amin

    I see from some of the posts that there are many of you who want to keep your black grandmother in the closet. Don’t worry, no one is going to drag you out to the slave quarters or kick you out of their club when they find out there is African blood in you. It’s just good to know the truth about yourself and your country. I mean, come on, the African is obvious in most South Americans. I just always thought I was mistaken but now I know I was right.
    But let me say here that the program was EXCELLENT. Excellently done and very informative. I especially liked the information about the man Yanga, the freedom fighters in Mexico and the effect Africans left on the music and culture in South America. It’s just sad that there are still people who seem like it hurts them to admit these truths.

  • Alicia

    I have to agree with Yemmie and I myself find it weird and a bit scary. Why watch the show or come to this site if you don’t feel black or relate to being black? If you are dominican and not black why come here to denounce the show and blackness. Dr. Gates is not presenting this as if all Latin Americans are Black! He is exploring black peoples role in several “latin” nations!

  • KeeKee

    Thank U Mr. Gates. It was a little shocking to see blacks in Peru and Mexico. I have been educated and I thank U very much. Now how about doing a documenary of BLACK IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC????? Samoan, Polyanesian(sp?), Indian, etc.

  • LatinType

    I was born in Acapulco, I worked for the Mexican federal government in the region when Dr. Gates visit, Cuajinicuilapa, Guerrero. I grew up seeing ALL Mexicans as Mexicans, not brown, black, white, cocoa, beige, or any other made up color that Dr. Gate wants to see; however, at the age of 27 I arrived to the USA and it took me by surprise that people in this country “saw” the color of people’s skin as a definite point of judging one’s intellect… I must admit, it was hysterically funny to me! It was like differentiating people’s intellect by the color of their eyes or hair… amazingly stupid! Mexican describe someone as “la muchacha negrita (the black girl)” with same intention as “la muchacha chaparrita (the shorty girl)” Here in the USA is uneasy to discribe a person of African ethnicity because you don’t know how it will be taken. Dr. Gate, keep your poison seeds in the USA, do not take them to Mexico where we are GENERALLY COLOR BLIND.

  • traveller922

    Mexicano Nolatino : You wonder why this series is focused on Blacks not the human race/ Because in the history of the human race the white race in the western hemisphere has forced everyone else to assimilate. That is not sayin that white people are bad but that other cultures/races have the right to embrace their way of feeling and living. To have positive self esteem about themselves instead of being made to feel inferior.

    Al you seem to point out that Peru has hardly any blacks. It is not about the numbers. Look at the show in Peru. It is about contributions being honored instead of swept under the rug. It is about people being given a chance. Many in Peru.Mexico and even the US have ancestry that has been mixed in and denied by individuals. Because people (maybe like you) deem it necessary to make them feel inferior. So the numbers will always lie.

  • ChubbyDubRock

    Structured Crticism
    Some points
    1. Lack of a balanced view of Mexico.
    H.L. Gates explores views of racism based on experiences in only Veracruz
    and Mexico City.
    Problem: The capital city (D.F.) is a poor representation of all
    of Mexico. Unlike the USA, Mexican high schools often have friendship patterns
    not based on skin color. In fact, people of the same families can have vastly
    different skin colors.
    2. Imposition of American views
    Gates continues to ask random people what color they are; i.e.
    self identify “how are you not like your neighbor”, something that is not a
    cultural norm.
    Problem: Gates seems fixated on comparison. This tends to reinforce
    a vision that someone or their plan is superior or inferior.
    Focusing on how Mexico’s view on race works is ignored, he instead
    criticizes Mexico based on his personal biases.
    3. African influence
    Gates did mention some non-critical cultural notes including, fufu-like
    dishes in Mexico as well as dances which were both informative.

    Overall: From my perspective, I would say visiting Mexico is the best educational tool.
    The film does NOT do justice to Mexico social relations, where in the USA you find
    sterotyping and fear, in Mexico it is common to find only deep interest and curiosity.
    Background: black American (in Mexico simply”American”), 3 months in Mexico

  • Celeste

    Reading the comments on here it seems that some people who are Hispanic or Latino do NOT want to accept the fact that YES you do have at least a drop of African or black blood running through your veins.
    Why is it that society as a whole does not want to embrace the contributions that blacks or Africans have made to the WORLD?

  • G Man

    Thank God for DNA my dear Malu does not know that even Christo Colon had blacks on his ships. They are African decendants in every country of the western hemisphere. Dont define race by hair texture. if you do then lots of animals have straight hair eg dogs, cats. Then again with your logic they are human.

    95%of Brazil population is similar to western Africa in terms of DNA. dont confuse imposed language with race.

    Malu what is your native language?

  • Teresa

    What a wonderful documentary. I tried researching Blacks in Mexico a few years back and was so disappointed with our Mexican government and the racism that still exists. So I was so glad to see this film. There are just 2 things that the documentary failed to make clear. #1. The US calls it Latin America. WRONG! It was Napoleon that named Mexico, Central and South America, LATIN AMERICA. He decided he was going to conquer it all when he invaded Mexico. And French being Latin is the reason he named it Latin America. So All OF NORTH AMERICA SHOULD ALSO BE LATIN & many parts of the world as well. THOSE CONQUERED BY SPANIERDS ARE HISPANICS! We are also Latin because we speak a Latin/Romance Language. As do the French, Italian, Romanian and Portugal. I wish the world would get it right. #2, I Despise the word MULTTO! When the African slaves and indigenous people had children the Spanish conquistadors named them MULATTOS- (SMALL MULE). Shame on us for continuing to use that word. JUST AN FYI. I was disappointed that neither of these two very important fats were revealed in the program.

  • Teresita

    Ok This is so Awesome! I did a Mitochondrial 4 years ago and was bummed that I had no African blood in me on my moms side. But what can I say I’m so white, just like her…A white Mexican thats just wrong…ha ha ha…I so wana be brown. But looking at my Dad he is brown and when he is in the sun he gets nice and toasty. And his 1/2 siblings have african features and afro hair. So I knew there was black blood in our family. This is so COOL! It was because of “African American Lives” that Idid the test. Thank You Mr. Gates. Know I know that I do have Black blood in me. There just has to be! Cuz Black people ROCK! I may look White but I be a mix. ha ha ha I can’t wait to educate my People. Then hopefully knowing the truth will help the racism dissipate in our Mexican Culture. It was those darn Spaniards that taught us Racism among other bad things. But know that we know the true history of our people. It’s time to change things. MIL GRACIAS!

  • Cervantes

    After reading some of the comments I came away dispirited by the ignorance and self-hatred demonstrated by some of the Afro-American commentators. Indeed, the charlatan, Lanceindc, has the temerity to reference Van Sertima-whose work has been discredited the world over as pseudo-science in the fields of history, anthropology, and archeology-in order to argue that the brilliance of the native people (Mayas, Aztecs, Olmecs, etc.,) is owed to Africans who came to the western hemisphere before Columbus. One need not be an epidemiologist to know that it is impossible for the native people of this hemisphere to have interacted with any group of people from the old world in any significant way upon understanding that the natives of this continent were unable to sustain the diseases of Europe and Africa. Indeed, it bespeaks to the isolation of these peoples.

    Other commentators appear to be elated by the desire to falsely convince themselves that Hispanic people- at least 93% of whom are either indian, white, or metizo-have black admixture or are in some mysterious way Afro-descendant. So, they dream that this will lead to their ability to claim Latino heritage (or a non-black identity) and to intermarry with hispanics. The former expresses the eternal longing of African Americans of being able to obscure their blackness. They think this is possible because of the erroneous belief that Afro-Latinos (e.g., Sammy Sosa, Saldana) are not perceived as blacks and that they do not self-identify as such. Of course, this is only sensible if one assumes that the vast majority of Hispanics are not black and so Afro-latinos can be made invisible as a result. However, therein lies the paradox and ultimate failure of this thought process. Hispanics are overwhelmingly non-black but it is virtually impossible for a black person in this continent to not be reminded that he/she is black and “other”. The latter provides the only opportunity whereby one can affirm blackness while seeking to destroy it. For while It is shocking for the viewer to see Prof. Gates tell a native american girl that she is a “beautiful Negra” (black), or even ask Professor Cruz, who has not one ostensible african feature, about her feelings on finding out that she was “black”-when we are well aware that “black” in this continent has only to do with physical appearance-it makes perfect sense from the vantage point that it may allow for the destruction of “black” as a concept and concomitantly to the physical obliteration of “black” in reality. In short, the ultimate desire is to be like Prof. Cruz, to have light skin, straight hair, non-african features, but be able to say: “I am black and I am proud”.

  • Gina Colon

    All I know is that wherever you go in the world, the darker a person is the poorer they tend to be. Many places say we are mixed and don’t have a racial identity, but a national identity. Why then are the darkest the poorest. People are saying don’t bring that American poison to our country. Sorry, but to late it is already there, but fine tuned so well you aren’t even aware of what makes all that countries poor and oppressed come here. Nobody likes Black Americans, but if it wasn’t for them you could not be all that you can be here. In places where they say things like Ay Dios no te ha quitado el apeste de indo ( OMG yo still haven’t got the stink of Indian off of you) don’t tell me there is no racism. Racism South of the border is about the oppression of the Indigenous people let alone black people.

  • get real

    Wow! “Peru becomes the only Latin American country to apologize to blacks for present day descrimination”. Just take a look at the Peruvian national soccer team since forever. It doesn’t look like blacks have been descriminated against.

  • iz

    Hmmm…. wonder if pbs has an “Brown in Latin America” or “Yellow in Latin America”? Only seems fair.

  • iz

    Yo Teresita, you’re a retard. How can Mexicans even be racist to blacks when there are barely even any blacks in Mexico to be racist against? I myself am a mestizo-Mexican and have never been racist against black-Mexicans. One big reason why I wouldn’t be racist against them is because they are so rare I wouldn’t even have a chance to be racist against one! That, and racisism is just plain wrong.

  • smart

    I’m from Peru and it does not matter what percentage of blacks are in Peru. The importance is that they are there and have contributed MORe than many in our culture. Today we eat many delicious dishes from them and dance to their wonderful music. They need to be treated with respect and equality. For that to happen in Peru it would take another century to instruct new generations. Racism still happening in Peru among all and its sad.

    I thank PBS and Dr. Gates and all the Afro-Peruvians who have made our country much better like Cavero, Dna. Teresa, The Angola slave who painted the Sr. de los Milagros and many more.




  • Jim Miller

    This should have been a story about what goes around comes around because humans got their start from Africa. All humans evolved from Africans. In todays way of thinking, many people have been led to deny their racial composition. I think because when peoples minds have been conquered, they are subjected to go along with lies of convenience. In many societies being a mixture of African is a cause of redicule and denial. The Europeans did a masterful job when they went around the world with a bible in one hand and a gun in the other which was a greater way to conquer minds. The notion that lighter skin colors is better than dark skin lingers in the mind of many because of ignorance. There have been several PBS documentaries such as INCREDIBLE HUMAN JOURNEY and JOURNEY OF MAN which dispells the idea of races. Biologically speaking, there’s only one race–the human race. If only people could read new materials and look beyond cartoons which stereotype Africans, maybe better days ahead. Went to El Salvador and its neighbors and did notice the African heritage.

  • Rodney

    Dr. Gates has done an excellent job, continuing what the late Dr. Ivan Van Sertima did in “They Came Before Columbus.” Even though the evidence is overwhelming that the African has made and continues to make major contributions in world history, there are still many people that will not acknowledge those contributions. But no one can deny that a black man (from 12% of the American population) is at the head and in “charge” of the most powerful nation in the history of humankind. And this was done over the course of when the first African landed in North America in 1619, until November 4, 2008 when Barack Obama became President. This occurred without a single act of violence over the course of that time (389 years)…..

  • Cherry

    Very enlighting. So important and I wish this would be showed in schools and primetime TV. I’ve enjoyed each installment and I thank you Dr Gates for sharing and educating us all (who are willing to watch/learn).

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