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The Root Presents “Black in Latin America: The Other African Americans”

Henry Louis Gates Jr’s upcoming PBS series, Black in Latin America, in which wiewers will learn about the lives and culture of blacks in Haiti, Cuba, Brazil, Peru and Mexico, airs tomorrow night, the 19th of April, at 8PM EST.

In anticipation of the program, the editorial team at The Root has put together an extensive series of articles and multi-media exploring the black experience in Latin America.

From The Root: “Less than 5 percent of the 11.5 million Africans wrenched into slavery ended up in the United States. That’s one reason Editor-in-Chief Henry Louis Gates Jr. decided to explore the lives and cultures of blacks from Brazil to Haiti, from Peru to Mexico…

There’s a lot of content there, so you’re encouraged to check out The Root’s special coverage, Black in Latin America: The Other African Americans, which you will find HERE .

11 comments to The Root Presents “Black in Latin America: The Other African Americans”

  • Daliso

    Faulty link. Please fix.

  • Lynn

    I am looking forward to this documentary but the thing i noticed that i found kinda of annoying is African-Americans trying to force Blacks/mixed race Blacks in the Caribbean & South America to consider themselves as “Blacks” only.

    My background is Jamaican. I come from a mixed race heritage Black and East Indian. Jamaica’s population of Blacks is a littler bit over 75% the rest is East Indian, Chinese, White and Amerindian. The same thing w/ Guyana, Trinidad, Brazil, except they have more East Indians, Amerindians, Caribs, Arawaks etc.

    The main thing “outsiders” don’t get is that the Caribbean & South America is not just “Black” it was originally an Indigenous land w/ Caribs, Iroquois, Arawaks etc.

    • Lynn

      I forgot to mention that Blacks/mixed race Blacks in Caribbean & South America don’t identify themselves as “Black” only because they don’t identify w/ the African-American culture.

      In America Hip-Hop, Cook outs, grits, soul food, MLK, Malcolm X, civil rights movement etc. Is the African-American culture it is not the same for everyone a broad.

      My background is West Indian culturally i identify w/ roti, curry goat, rice and peas, reggae, calypso, Bob Marley, carnival etc. And i don’t consider myself African-American that term never really made sense to me i am from Canada and Blacks don’t have a name in Canada like Blacks in U.S who call themselves “African-Americans”. We are just Canadians and nothing else.

  • BluTopaz

    I get that there is not the one drop rule in the Caribbean and Latin America. But your comment that “Blacks/mixed race Blacks in Caribbean & South America don’t identify themselves as “Black” only because they don’t identify w/ the African-American culture” is overgeneralized, and it sounds as if you are saying all of these people seperate race from nationality.

    I’m in Brooklyn where there is a large West Indian population; I highly doubt that any of the Bajans/Rastas/family next door from Grendadine on my block alone “do not consider themselves Black” just because they are not Black American. The few times I ventured out to the West Indian parade here, the West Indians and Black Americans in the thousands strong crowd are indistinguishable from each other. My father’s family was from St. Thomas with German ancestry, my mother’s from Bombingham, AL. Does that mean I’m only half Black, or simply that my two Black parents had ancestors in seperate places in the world where the slave ships stopped? Sure I have met the very dark/kinky haired West Indian or Hispanic (from both South America or the Islands) who will cut you if you call them Black, so maybe that’s who you are referring to.

    And as for “The main thing “outsiders” don’t get is that the Caribbean & South America is not just “Black” it was originally an Indigenous land w/ Caribs, Iroquois, Arawaks etc”; perhaps you are not aware that North America was “an indigenous land” with Native American people hundreds of years ago as well, with many of the same tribes you have noted. There is nothing unique in that distinction, for both continents make up the New World.

    But you do have somewhat of a point. I have heard uneducated Black Americans say to my very dark skinned Honduran co-worker ‘I didn’t know you were Spanish, i thought you were Black’. Flipside, this same co-worker meets light skinned Hispanics who refuse to believe she is also one of them, until she speaks fluent Spanish. I’m sure Prof Gates’ doc will attempt to educate people on these issues as they tend to cause a lot of confusion.

    • Lynn

      “If someone goes around listing every race that’s ever entered their bloodline, it gives the impression they’re trying to dilute the “blackness,” particularly if odds are those different races weren’t put in that person involuntarily.”

      The thing is Blacks who consider themselves a slew of different races who say they are “mixed race” have a recent mixed race blood line.

      I think it depends on the person. Everybody is different. A lot of Blacks expect someone who is part black black to idenify themselves as “Black’ only.

      • BluTopaz

        Thing is, if you initially have to reach back a few centuries about ‘the iroquois, arawaks, native american history’ that you think seperates you from all of Black America it makes your point suspect. And i guess it depends on what you mean by recent blood lines, etc. As an example I don’t know if Pam Grier considers herself “recent mixed race”, but imo she clearly has recent Native American ancestry. Here in the States she is recognized as primarily a Black woman; she doesn’t appear to have a problem with that. I’ve known East Indian looking Trinis who acknowledge their African lineage (and i know not all Trinis have Black bloodlines) as well as Indian and I cannot imagine anyone telling them they are Black only.

        btw other races of people often have no problem identifying a “mixed race” person as all Black (and other choice words) but somehow that’s never discussed in these types of convos. You may be aware of the racism experienced by Blacks from indigenous people within their own tribes, even in current times. Prof Gates will surely talk about this, too.

        • Lynn

          I don’t think you understand my point. Are you Caribbean or South American? You said, more than once that you knew various Caribbean people but are you Caribbean?

          “Thing is, if you initially have to reach back a few centuries about ‘the iroquois, arawaks, native american history’ that you think seperates you from all of Black America it makes your point suspect.”

          I went back to prove a point about the Caribbean & South America originally being a Indigenous colony before Blacks were brought there as slaves.

          The Caribbean & South American culture is totally different from Blacks in America it is not the same the history is totally different. Practically every person in the Caribbean & South America has Indigenous or East Indian in their ancestry.

          Blacks in the Caribbean & South America don’t identify themselves as just “Black” because they are a mixture of multiple races. And when i say recent i mean parents or grandparents belonging to multiple race groups in society.

          I don’t know why African-American people think they know so much about the Caribbean & South America culture they have not experienced anything.

          • BluTopaz

            If you want to know my lineage go back and read what i already told you, I don’t do Cliffnotes.

            “I went back to prove a point about the Caribbean & South America originally being a Indigenous colony before Blacks were brought there as slaves.”

            The only thing you proved is that you did not learn in kindergarten that there were (and still are!) native people on THIS land mass before the pilgrims showed up. Seriously- wtf do you think that annual holiday is about where we celebrate the country being stolen from “the red man”?

            “Blacks in the Caribbean & South America don’t identify themselves as just “Black” because they are a mixture of multiple races. ”

            Tell yourself that three more times, click your heels and maybe it will become true for you. As much as you would like to believe, there is nothing special about all South American or West Indian cultures that make them much different than Black America in terms of who is mixed with whom. Yes there are certain cultures that are very mixed-Brazil probably has the most diverse gene pool on the planet. And there are many Chinese and Africans who had families in Jamaica, just as there are many Jamaicans who call themselves BLACK or African even–do you even know about Marcus Garvey? hell Bob Marley was biracial, I’m guessing he and all of his tribe would not have a problem calling themselves only Black. You are making an overgeneralization about millions of people from various cultures that are often vastly different from each other, simply because you want to believe it. My maternal grandmother’s family in the South are all fairskinned with hazel or green eyes, I would look like a damn fool walking around with my brown skin and kinky hair calling myself mixed. But I’m not ashamed to call myself all Black which is what we are really talking about here. Keep on thinking you’re special, and I suggest you watch every installment of Gates’ film- he’s Black American with Irish ancestry, btw.

            • Lynn

              Did i say i was ashamed to call myself Black? And why are you asking me if i know who Marcvus Garvey is? I am Jamaican background every single Jamaican knows about Marcus Garvey, Manley, Bob Marley etc.

              It is clear that you don’t get my point all i am saying is we have something in the Caribbean where people call themselves Indo-Caribbean, Afro-Caribbean or just Caribbean. What i am saying is the Caribbean history is totally different form AA’s as far as racial groups, history and the culture.

              I watched the program last night and there was a guy who considered himself Indio although he was Black because Dominicans are not just “Black” but they are mixed as well.

              I don’t think you understand have you been to the Caribbean? You are just talking about the Caribbeans you come across in your Brooklyn area but do you visit the Caribbean?

  • JMac

    Got my tv set and can’t wait!

    “The main thing “outsiders” don’t get is that the Caribbean & South America is not just “Black” it was originally an Indigenous land w/ Caribs, Iroquois, Arawaks etc.”

    And that’s unique how? Every place blacks landed has the same background and AAs know that just as well as anybody else. Don’t confuse American racial classifications (past and present) with the overall sentiment of the black population. And I don’t know where this “black only” argument comes from either – maybe you’re hearing us say one thing and think it means something else. With any Black American person I’ve known, “Black” is not so much a race as it is a description that a person has a certain significant amount of black African ancestry… significant enough to have been considered undesirable to certain other groups. We know damn well it doesn’t negate other races/ethnicities being in the bloodline. For the most part, unless we get the Skip Gate’s DNA testing, AAs don’t have a clue what else is in us due to history being destroyed, erased, or conveniently/intentionally forgotten. Common problem among the offspring of the transatlantic slave trade but we’ll see if it’s as insidious in countries outside the US as it is here.

    I do get the confusion in AAs minds when someone says I’m part this and part that and they are just as dark as they wanna be whereas that AA who is barely black looking identifies themselves as just black. It’s understood “black” equals black plus perhaps some of this and that– if you know it. If someone goes around listing every race that’s ever entered their bloodline, it gives the impression they’re trying to dilute the “blackness,” particularly if odds are those different races weren’t put in that person involuntarily. Also, “black” doesn’t necessarily reflect American-only culture – “African American” and “Black American” do. It depends on whose talking and in what context. So “Black in Latin America” means just that – a person of African [most likely slave trade] descent in Latin America. Nobody expects that to mean Black American culture in Latin America. If the reason you don’t want to call yourself “black” is based on any of those misconceptions then obviously we need more shows like this to inform our people what really means what.