First Blacks in The Americas

The African Presence in The Dominican Republic

A silenced history

Despite the fact that La Española (also called Santo Domingo by extension of its colonial capital’s name) was what scholar Silvio Torres-Saillant has called “the cradle of Blackness in the Americas,”[1] the Western academy until very recently has almost completely overlooked this early history of the Black experience in the New World Black at the dawn of modernity. The prevailing scholarship has often neglected the fact that both the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and the New World Black slavery in general, as conventionally understood, began in this first European settlement of the Americas, expanding from there as a fundamental feature of the society based on domination and colonization that was subsequently imposed on most of the continent.

Fittingly, one of the main goals of First Blacks in the Americas is to contribute to filling the void that exists in Atlantic and New World Black studies by uncovering the recorded history of the first generations of Blacks that lived in the continent in modern times, especially, though not exclusively, as it related to the first development of an early plantation economy on its territories. As the project’s construction unfolds and more historical data is collected on these beginnings of the recorded presence of Black peoples in the continent, an attempt will be made to shed additional light in this educational platform on understanding the ways that constructions of social class, gender, ethnicity and others intersected with race and created particular dynamics for the sixteenth-century Afro-descendants of La Española.

[1]  Torres-Saillant, Silvio. Introduction to Dominican Blackness. 2nd ed. New York: CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Monographs, 2010.