Black in Latin America
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: NYU Press
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This project would not have been possible without the support of a very large group of dedicated people who advised me and supported me at every stage—from the development and production of the four-hour PBS documentary series Black in Latin America through the researching, writing...
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I first learned that there were black people living someplace in the Western Hemisphere other than the United States when my father told me the first thing that he had wanted to be when he grew up. When he was a boy about my age, he said, he had wanted to be an Episcopal priest, because he so...
1. Brazil: “May Exú Give Me the Power of Speech”
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For a very long time, whenever I heard the word race, only images of black people in the United States came to mind. As silly as it might sound now, to me, then, race was a code word for black people, and for their relations with white people in this country. I think that this is probably some sort...
2. Mexico: “The Black Grandma in the Closet”
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On the wall in my dining room hangs a work of art entitled “Lucky,” one of the collages or works of found art created by the African American artist Suesan Stovall. “Lucky” is a dapper black man. He is standing, supported by a cane, one ankle crossing the other, wearing a bow tie, an elegant Panama hat...
3. Peru: “The Blood of the Incas, the Blood of the Mandingas”
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I have to confess that I was probably more excited to visit Peru than I was to visit any other country in the series. I felt as if I were investigating a great mystery. Peru’s population includes somewhere between six hundred thousand and three million Afro-Peruvians, depending on who’s doing the...
4. The Dominican Republic: “Black behind the Ears”
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How do race and racism play themselves out in the Caribbean? To see for myself, I boarded a flight to the Dominican Republic, on the island of Hispaniola—which it shares, somewhat uneasily, with Haiti. The people here, on opposite sides of this island, have faced each other across this body...
5. Haiti: “From My Ashes I Rise; God Is My Cause and My Sword”
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Even before I landed at Port-au-Prince, my mind and my heart were engulfed by Haiti—by the country’s incredibly complex, still unfolding saga of glory and shame, honor and suffering. From the air, all I could see were checkered fields of blue and white. I discovered, as all visitors to Haiti do since...
6. Cuba: The Next Cuban Revolution
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As an American, it’s difficult to think of Cuba beyond Fidel Castro’s revolution of 1959, Castro’s embrace of Communism two years later, the Bay of Pigs, the row over Elian González, and a fifty-year-old dictatorship just ninety miles from Miami. But these recent events obscure the shared history between...
Appendix: Color Categories in Latin America
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About the Author
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Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is the director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research and holder of the distinguished title of Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University. He is the author of several award-winning works of literary criticism as well as...
Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2011