- I was appalled to view a video on YouTube by a young African-American man decrying some Dominicans and Puerto Ricans, declaring that they are not black. “Well no, homeboy, they’re not African-American but they are part of you and I.” I shouted at the computer screen. This is the history and education that many need to make sense of our cultural landscape as it stands now.
I was doing the research for this post (and for the group I have begun to do community building with) when I came across this factoid from Dr. Henry Louis Gates’ well documented film series Black in Latin America. “Nobody here is black because that word is reserved for Haitians.” And the corresponding cultural artifact that I personally perceived is that Dominicans have been acculturated to perceive that their first allegiance is to Spain and as the first colony, they disregard past race mixing.
This factoid has not failed to bring about disgruntled feelings and a sense of “belittling” from African-Americans. Race mixing began from the early arrival of Africans in the diaspora. For that reason, African blood is deeply mixed into the Mexican genome and all but forgotten in many places.
“The legacy of the transatlantic slavery, especially racism and colonialism, has meant that those who are part of the African diaspora have suffered similar problems and disadvantages. This fact contributed to the emergence of Pan-Africanism, a movement and body of ideas that sought to unite all people of African descent, link them to Africa and attempt to organise and protest against racism and colonial rule. “ (UnderstandingSlavery.com retrieved 8/20)
Chief among those organizing the so-called “Pan-African” Conferences were Trinidadian Henry Sylvester, W.E.B. DuBois, and Jamaican Marcus Garvey. These were the first gatherings of African-descended people worldwide to improve living conditions and to organize protest against colonial rule.
Estimates range from 12 to 14 million slaves were transported beginning approximately 1580 through 1688 when slavery was abolished in Brazil. Slaves were used for mining and agriculture [particularly sugar].
Obtaining Slaves, Discrimination and Race Mixing was handled similarly in Western Hemisphere countries:
- Africans from Angola populated Mexico from 1580 – 1640.
- Race mixing occurred from the beginning.
- Ruling class tried to eliminate racism by eliminating racial categories.
- Afro-Mexicans still face difficult living conditions and discrimination in health, housing & education.
- Vicente Ramon Guerrero Saldaña – Second President of Mexico was Afro-Mexican
- Columbia has the third largest population of antecedents from Africa.
- Their first arrival occurred in 1520 as they were imported to work in mining, agricultural and domestic work.
- Slavery ended in 1851 with legislated discrimination continuing from 1910 until 1993 when Law 70 was passed. [retrieved from Afropedia.org 8/20]
Significant similarities in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua & Brazil:
- Several countries eliminated all racial categories and determined not to enumerate individual racial cohorts. It is/was illegal to discuss race in Brazil
- As the first colony, the Dominican Republic aligned itself with Spain and claimed according to Dr. Gates: “Nobody here is black because that word is reserved for Haitians.” Yet, darker complected Latinx people still suffer discrimination and fewer benefits.
Resources Used in the preparation of this post:
- Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., (2011) Black in Latin America, New York and London, New York University Press
- MacPherson, James, M., (August 27,1995), Involuntary Immigrants, [book review] New York Times, section 7, page 24