A lot of people are talking about Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s PBS series, “Black in Latin America” and it’s portrayal of Dominicans. I have to agree that the story is pretty one-sided, so I can understand the upset that has come about following the documentary. Throughout the film, Gates makes references to Dominicans as believing they’re not black, trying to “whitify” their history and viewing themselves as superior to Haitians. In a sense, Dominicans are playing the role of white folks in the U.S. (the oppressors) and Haitians are depicted as black folks (the oppressed). Many would argue this as an accurate portrayal and one that can’t be denied anymore than the black/white relationships here in the U.S.
Or perhaps the issue isn’t quite so “black” and “white”, but at the same time, it’s also true that Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr. is out to tell the story of Black oppression in Latin America, and I think he has successfully brought attention to a topic that we skirt around often. These generalizations can cause some to view Dominicans in an overall negative light though, point taken. Perhaps finger pointing doesn’t really further discussions on the topic in a productive way, but at the same time, I can relate to Gates’ anger and resentment toward the mistreatment of people who embrace their African roots, one that I’m sure many Haitians share.
Please, view the documentary for yourself and form your own opinions. There was most definitely some bias, but his being a man who makes it his business to bring our struggle to accept African roots to light, I think this perspective was an important one to both tell and hear.