We, as Latinxs, are trying to piece together our history, learning what was left unlearned in classrooms, and understanding where we are going based on where we have been. We do this through oral histories, books, films, and more. Latinx documentaries and histories are an important part of that mix, shining a much-needed light on our cultures and history.
These films and shows can teach you not only about your culture(s), but that of other Latinxs and Indigenous peoples as well. Because the more we learn, the more power we have. To get you started, here are five Latinx true stories you can stream online right now.
Tango Negro: The African Roots of Tango
When you think about tango, who do you see dancing? It’s probably white people of Italian descent. Did you know that part of its origins is African? The 2013 documentary Tango Negro reveals this overlooked fact, delving into the roots of the tango. It’s an important movie, helping to properly credit and shine a light on our Afro-Latinx communities, their accomplishments, and their achievements.
The Graduates/Los Graduados
Knowledge is power. But not everyone has an easy path towards attaining it. PBS’ 2013 two-part documentary, The Graduates/Los Graduados follows six Latinx male and female students in America. These teens fight for their education, running up against obstacles like homelessness, urban violence, pregnancy, and lack of documentation to succeed. We also hear from the student’s parents and Latinx celebs who share their own experience with U.S. education.
Latin History for Morons
If you haven’t already seen John Leguizamo’s one-man Broadway show Latin History for Morons, you can still catch it on Netflix. Combining historic facts and humor, he teaches us the 500 years of Latinx history in the U.S. that teachers have omitted for just as long. We learn about what Latinxs have given America, how we have shaped this nation, what Latin America was robbed of, recommended reading, and more.
Latino Americans: The 500 Year Legacy That Shaped a Nation
When you learn something about your history, you naturally want to learn more. After watching Latin History for Morons, immerse yourself in more Latinx history with PBS’ Latino Americans: The 500 Year Legacy That Shaped a Nation. Episodes include “Foreigners in their Own Land,” “The New Latinos,” and “Prejudice and Pride.”
El Tigre y El Venado
Documentaries allow you into the lives of people from various countries, cultures, and stages of life. El Tigre y El Venado takes us to El Salvador, where we meet Don Chelino, “the last surviving elder of the Nahuat-Pipil, one of the only Indigenous peoples native to El Salvador,” according to the International Documentary Association. Before he died, Don Chelino shared with a young man the Indigenous tradition of playing the reed whistle, along with his story of surviving the 1932 ethnocide against his people by the Salvadorian military.