News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Monday, April 18, 2011

Black in Latin America

Collaborator on my public TV film project, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., introduces a series on Afro-Latinos--a group virtually invisible in the mainstream media and most discussions of Hispanics. This despite the fact more people of African descent in the Americas today speak Spanish or Portuguese rather than English. This must-see series starts tomorrow night on PBS.

Despite an alleged bias toward the left, the U.S. media is firmly entrenched in a racist mentality toward the people of Latin America. In most demographic reporting, people from Spanish-speaking countries are presumed to be a fourth homogeneous "race" called Hispanic along with White, Black and Asian. The reality is that the nations of Latin America are composed of people from Europe, Africa and Asia, just like the United States.

This show by Skip Gates exposes U.S. viewers to the long-ignored diversity of Latin America by focusing on the region's most overlooked ancestral thread in the U.S. media, the rich and powerful legacy of those of African descent.

I applaud Skip Gates for yet another media breakthrough.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez