This Is the Only Graphic You Need to Understand How Deep Latin America’s African Roots Are

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In Brazil, a 2014 study found that more Brazilians are identifying themselves as black as compared to ten years ago. In Mexico, a 2015 interim census gave 1.38 million people the opportunity to identify themselves as black for the first time. And in Ecuador, a young girl recently recited Victoria Santa Cruz’s Me Gritaron Negra – a powerful decima cantada where Afro-Peruvian Santa Cruz fully embraces her blackness – at a festival celebrating Afro-Ecuadorian roots. But even though movements like these are slowly giving more visibility to Afro-Latinos and Latin Americans of African descent, anti-black sentiments are just as present as blackness in Latin American/Latino culture.

In 2011, Henry Louis Gates Jr. visited Latin America to learn more about the area’s African history and racial dynamics. In the four-part PBS documentary series, titled Black in Latin America, he found tremendous variety in attitudes toward race – from people who described their blackness in ways that fall outside of the racial binary that exists in the U.S., to those who denied their African roots altogether. In March, a Pew Research Center study found that U.S. Afro-Latinos were more likely to identify as white than black.

But Latin America’s deep African roots are undeniable, and they are brought into stark relief by a graphic recently created by Slate‘s Andrew Kahn. His interactive animated map spans from 1545 to 1860, and helps viewers visualize how many more ships carrying slaves headed to Latin America than to the United States. In fact, while the United States is usually the focus of the American slave trade, less than 4 percent of the 10 million slaves that reached the Western Hemisphere wound up there – Latin America received 25 times the number of slaves that the United States did. The Caribbean and Brazil – which was home to Valongo wharf, where the largest number of slaves disembarked in all of the Americas – easily dwarf the United States in this graphic.

Andrew Kahn/Slate
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The graphic is two-minutes long, but if you pause it, you can get more information about each of the ships and the number of people transported. Check it out here.