Latinamericans generally present themselves as one big happy family where everybody is equal and there is no discrimination. However when you look beyond the veneer a different picture emerges. Blacks and the Amerindians are generally the poorest in these countries, they are generally at the bottom of the social and economic totem pole while the white skinned occupies the top. Why is this? One of the countries in South America where I believe that Blacks fare the best in terms of equality is Cuba. But in many of the other countries the blithe of Black racism and discrimination is very present. It is only in recent years through rap lyrics the issue of racism in Latinamerica is addressed. It is why I am pleased that Dr. Louis Gates is taking a closer look at Blacks in these countries and we know how thorough the man is. Don’t miss this 4-part series on PBS. Let us see what Dr. Gates will uncover.
(excerpt of article from Savoy Magazine)
Latin America is often associated with music, monuments and sun, but each of the six countries featured in Black in Latin America including Brazil, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico and Peru, has a secret history. On his journey, Professor Gates discovers, behind a shared legacy of colonialism and slavery, vivid stories and people marked by African roots.
12.5 million Africans were shipped to the New World during the Middle Passage. While just over 11.0 million survived the arduous journey, only about 450,000 of them arrived in the United States. The rest—over ten and a half million—were taken to the Caribbean and Latin America and kept in bondage far longer than the slaves in the United States. This astonishing fact changes the entire picture of the history of slavery in the Western hemisphere, and of its lasting cultural impact. These millions of Africans created new and vibrant cultures, magnificently compelling syntheses of various African, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish influences.
Despite their great numbers, the cultural and social worlds that they created remain largely unknown to most Americans, except for certain popular, cross-over musical forms. In his new series, Professor Gates sets out on a quest to discover how Latin Americans of African descent live now, and how the countries acknowledge—or deny—their African past; how the fact of race and African ancestry play themselves out in the multicultural worlds of the Caribbean and Latin America. Starting with the slave experience and extending to the present, Professor Gates unveils the history of the African presence in six Latin American countries through art, music, cuisine, dance, politics and religion, but also the very palpable presence of anti-black racism that has sometimes sought to keep the black cultural presence from view…..