Oftentimes citizens stateside believe racism and prejudice in the US has no parallels throughout the world. Well, once you take a look around, you’ll realize other countries have more similarities than initially perceived. I came up on PBS’s Black in Latin America series starring Henry Louis Gates and, from what I’ve seen, it’s got me interested in reading up on how people in the region are judged based on appearance. They run at about 50+ minutes each and serve as abridged observations on how the history of the Latin nations in question shape current social, political and economic situations. Each segment brushes very broad strokes so don’t expect to watch them and become well versed in the Afro-Latin American experience. Additionally, the programs won’t reveal anything new if you’re originally from the countries in question and/or researched them in detail. Nonetheless, they’re genuinely interesting and help expand your world view. More importantly, they’ll spark contention points in how they interpret history, race and race relations. The following videos are just clips of the longer episodes you can watch for free via the links provided. They still give you a good idea on what each episode entails.
I started off with Haiti & The Dominican Republic: An Island Divided. I’ve heard and read different parts of Hispaniola’s troubled past and present. However I’ve been on the outside looking in since I’ve sparingly gone by articles, exhibits and second hand accounts over the years. The episode proved doubly interesting since I’m Haitian American and filled in some holes in my understanding of Haiti’s history: particularly concerning how, after gaining its independence, the nation got blackballed by world powers.
Brazil: A Racial Paradise has a more interesting premise in that it couples its peoples’ perception of themselves with the history and reality of the prejudices facing much of its population. There’s much to look into from this episode if you, like me, could stand to learn more about how the media and socioeconomic factors play huge roles in the country’s makeup. The overarching theme of Brazil’s “Racial Democracy,” its breakdown and what it truly equates to, according to the flick, proved especially interesting and I plan on reading up on it.
I’m not usually one for PBS’s programming but they’ve got my attention with this line of documentaries. They’ve got two more on people with African ancestry in Cuba, Mexico and Peru on their site. I’ve yet to watch them all but you best believe they’re on my to do list for the upcoming week.