Whether you think that Haiti is portrayed more favorably again falls into the "we agree to respectfully disagree".
From my understanding of Moya Pons and Saillant Torres, the Dominican experts on the Dominican identity (on which subject Gates is NOT an authority), the mixed identity of the DR was based on favoring one aspect of it (Spain), hyping another aspect of it (the Tainos), and trivializing the third aspect of it (the African).
Yes, it seems that way.
And while I applaud Dominicans for (rightfully, if you ask me) embracing their mixed identity, I'm with the critics in that they should be just as proud of their African roots as their European and indigenous roots.
This because of the need to draw a CONTRAST with Haiti, a former invader and a contemporary disgrace, which was seen (as it also projects itself) as a Black nation whose heritage focuses on how it won its independence.
I think that whether this is the reason Dominicans favor their European roots over their African roots or not is debatable. Similar trends can be found throughout other locations in Latin America, as the European heritage tends to be priveleged as well.
These points were made by these Dominicans. Are you saying that they are wrong?
Not at all. If anything, I think Gates is "wrong" (and I don't think he's "wrong" so much as obviously biased, and I definitely disagree with his biases).
In fact Ginetta Candelario, another Dominican expert on the Dominican identity went even further in her book "Black Behind the Ears" by asserting that in the 19th century Dominicans invented an Indo-Iberian identity to separate themselves in the eyes of the world from their problematic neighbor. An ideology further promoted by Trujillo and Balaguer, she asserts.
I can neither agree nor disagree with this, but I don't think this relates directly to Gates's documentary.
Now the fact that Dominicans can admit to the fact that, in times past, they had (compliments of Trujillo and Balaguer) an identity which trivialized its African aspects suggests that in todays DR this is no longer the case.
If Gates wanted to portray Dominicans as self haters he would have done what he did in Zanzibar (in his African series) where he got a dark skinned local who called himself a Persian (as if he could pass for one in Iran) and then mocked him. Did he get a Dominican, have them call themselves some thing other than black, and then mock them? Maybe he did but I dont remember that. I do not recall at any time him questioning or smirking about opinions offered by Dominicans. Help me out please.
This is your own inference and assertion as to what Gates "would have done." Perhaps he was more caustic with the man from Zanzibar, but praising a severly impoverished, but "proudly black" nation such as Haiti and contrasting it with a critical view of a relatively prosperous, but "mixed-race identified" nation such as the Dominican Republic shows, at least to me, what he thinks of the country and their personal identity. It also can be seen as a relativel subtle way of "mocking" a country whose personal and "racial" identity he disagrees with.
There is another film (which name I forgot) lambasting the DR about how Haitians are treated in the bateyes. Dominican soldiers were shown smirking at Haitians using racial...not national..epithets. The film maker made sure to quote Dominicans who were no different phenotypically from the Haitians...clearly the intent was to show self hatred on the part of the Dominican. At no point was there any concession of the fact that the DR cannot absorb the impoverished Haitian, given its own problems of poverty and unemployment.
Yes, I know there are other filmmakers out there with stronger, or at least mor blatant, agendas.
But this does not necessarily negate the possibility that Gates did attempt to undermine Dominican self-identity because he does not agree with it.
I actually expected Gates to try something like that, based on what he did in Zanzibar. He didnt. Or if he did please let me know when. In fact the Haitian situation was treated...not as these "awful Dominicans who are self haters because they dont embrace their fellow black Hispaniolan brothers" ...just because the DR doesnt allow in every Haitian who wishes to come over. But as the normal immigrant issue when a very poor nation borders one which is less poor. Could be Mexico vs the USA, or Morocco vs Spain.
Like I said, I think Gates's criticisms of the Dominican Republic were somewhat subtle, but still present if you know what to look for. Its obvious from some of his past writing that he seems to be an advocate for hypodescent (look at what he writes about Jean Toomer), and either does not understand or disagrees with multiracial identity.
Its possible that he's finally gaining some acceptance and understanding for mixed identity, but that's not really what I'm seeing from his most recent documentaries.
I agree with many of the criticisms raised by Gates and the historians interviewed in the documentaries so far, but I also manage to come to very different conclusions, and I also think bias is present so far.