by Jennifer Wynns
In the first installment of the PBS documentary series, Blacks in Latin America, the focus was on Haiti and the Dominican Republic. I found the piece to be very accurate in exploring the history of both sides.
It is absolutely true that, due to slavery, colonialism, and the racial caste system employed by the Spaniards at the time, there is a lot of self-hatred, self-ignorance, and bigotry in the Dominican Republic, like in every other Latin American nation. Also true and noted in the documentary is the fact that 90 percent of Dominicans have some African ancestry, which many do not acknowledge.
I do not understand, however, the sentiment of many who watched the documentary and took to Twitter and Facebook to state that Dominicans should denounce our mixed heritage and just label ourselves as only black because that’s what we look like; and that if all Dominicans lived in the United States, for example, we would all be considered black, anyway.
Dominicans are mostly mulattoes and we should celebrate and embrace all sides of our ancestry, regardless of our skin color or what we look like. The Dominican Embassy states that, “the ethnic composition of the Dominican population is 73 percent multiracial, 16 percent white, and 11 percent black. The multiracial population is primarily a mixture of European and African.”
If you took a look at my family, you would be confused or would automatically think that my grandmother had about three different baby daddies. She had 10 children with my grandfather, and they are all different shades of the rainbow. My dad, for instance, is black, and one of his sisters is white with green eyes. If they were to classify themselves solely on their skin complexions, my aunt would have to consider herself white, while my dad black. Yet, they share the same exact ancestry.
The aim of the documentary is to educate and shed light on racial identity and relations across Latin America. It should be the aim of the viewer to learn and objectively share the knowledge, instead of instigating ignorant discussions. The Dominicans who denounce their African ancestry should educate themselves, learn to love themselves, and celebrate their ancestry. After all, it’s imprinted everywhere in our culture from our typical music–Merengue–to our typical dish–Sancocho.
Hopefully one day in the near future, we can all learn from one another and stop judging, stop giving uninformed opinions, leave our insecurities and our pride behind, and stop classifying people based on their skin complexion or what they look like. This is what has led to all the confusion, ignorance, and self-hate that are so prevalent in today’s society.
To learn more about Jennifer, visit From the bottom of my conscious brain.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those
of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.