Journalist and budding documentarian Dash Harris explores the shades of identity and racism in her documentary series Negro, currently in production. The New York-based Panamanian, raised partially in the States and in Panama, studied broadcast journalism and business at Temple University in Philadelphia before heading to the Big Apple and a job in TV news. She left that all behind this summer for a three-week trip to Colombia and the Dominican Republic, where she filmed the first part of her self-financed documentary. Eat your heart out, Henry Louis Gates.
I asked Dash about her motivation behind the series:
I am a very proud Latina. I am proud of the different roots that comprise us all. Growing up my parents instilled that pride and that was because we embraced all facets of who we are. I remember my mother saying to me you have big eyes, big nose, big lips and I think you are so beautiful. Sadly, sometimes, those same things are looked on as ugly. Negro: A Docu-Series about Latino Identity tackles a lot of where these ideas stem from. European colonization, oppression and supremacy can be found the world over and why a lot of these issues are global. The Latino ethnicity is comprised of African, European and Indigenous influences. Unfortunately, many times the African aspect is denied, stifled or falsely made as if it is not part when it is in fact an integral part of our very music, food, religion, traditions and customs.
Sounds like something you may have read on this blog before.
Part of what drew me to Dash’s documentary – aside from the very subject of the film – is my own personal experience as a black American who has lived in both the Dominican Republic and Colombia, and who has had to deal with foolishness from various points on the color spectrum. I’ve been to a batey (a community of marginalized Haitians living in the DR, usually operated by a sugar company) and spoken with brothers and sisters who were terrorized during Trujillo’s American-backed regime. I’ve danced the mapalé as a school Carnival king in Colombia. What’s always drawn me to Latin America is the pervasiveness of black culture in the overall cultural matrix of the region, unlike in the United States, where we’ve been more thoroughly relegated to our own space. Dash plugs into the shared culture that enthralls me and the ingrained self-hatred that infuriates me.
And the story’s not done. You can help send Dash to Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Cuba to complete Negro by making a donation through her GoFundMe page. Let’s uplift this sister, folk.