Video | U.S.: PBS Series Explores Black Culture in Latin America

“Here, my color is in the eye of the beholder,” Gates says, narrating over a scene filmed last year for his new series for PBS, Black in Latin America. The series consist of four episodes filmed in six Caribbean and Latin American countries. A book expanding on Gates’ research for the series is set for publication in July.  In the Dominican Republic, Professor Gates explores how race has been socially constructed in a society whose people reflect centuries of inter-marriage, and how the country’s troubled history with Haiti informs notions about racial classification. In Haiti, Professor Gates tells the story of the birth of the first-ever black republic, and finds out how the slaves’s hard fight for liberation over Napoleon Bonaparte’s French Empire became a double-edged sword.


Throughout the series, Gates finds himself in conversations about race that don’t really happen in the U.S., where the slavery-era “one-drop” concept – that anyone with even just one drop of black blood was black – is still widely accepted.  The idea for the series stems from a surprising number: Of the roughly 11 million Africans who survived the trans-Atlantic slave trade, only about 450,000 came to the U.S. By contrast, about 5 million slaves went to Brazil alone, and roughly 700,000 went to Mexico and Peru. And they all brought their music and religion with them.


Black in Latin America is the third of a trilogy that began in 1999 with the broadcast of Professor Gates’s first series for public television, Wonders of the African World, an exploration of the relationship between Africa and the New World, a story he continued in 2004 with America Beyond the Color Line, a report on the lives of modern-day African Americans. Black In Latin America, premiering nationally Tuesdays April 19, 26 and May 3, 10, 2011 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings), examines how Africa and Europe came together to create the rich cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean.  Click here to watch first of four PBS episodes.


1 Comment

    This is fascinating and i am proud to know the wordis out and invisibility is becoming a thing of the pat.

    I have just come back from a four-country mission (Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil and Guyana), employed by the African Union, as Social Economist, to identify and shore up relationships with Afrodescendants in the Diaspora, for the purpose of south-south future cooperation.

    A first-generation Guyanese, born in the USA, who “grew up” in Brazil, with a Jamaican mother and a Guyanese father, I have many ties to the region, especially to Guyana and Brazil.

    I would be delighted to pursue development options and other video options to share “best Practices” and “Lessons Learned” from Brazil and its neighbors. Invisibility and margnalization are not options; they are currently “out”, though the chains are not all broken.

    On Skype I am = soualison.

    Let’s talk soon.
    Alison Moses

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