Welcome! Bienvenidos!

Time to Act – Hora de Actuar

Vamos a ayudarnos, protegernos y amarnos los unos a los otros.

Help, protect and love one another!

Blessings! Bendiciones!

Chairman Nestor Montilla, Ph.D., habla sobre empoderamiento a miembros del Concilio Nacional Dominico Americano.

Things That Matter – Asuntos Que Importan

The Reality of Our Legacy in USA

Dr. Silvio Torres-Saillant renders a rare spellbinding MUST HEAR – MUST WATCH keynote speech debunking the narrative of recency used by some characters when talking about the Dominican migratory experience and political empowerment.

Dr. Silvio Torres-Saillant delivers the keynote speech at the Annual Conference of the National Dominican American Council (NDC).
Photo by Eduardo Hoepelman.
  • Dr. Torres-Saillant illustrated the reality and challenges the Dominican Diaspora faces in the United States when attempting to achieve social, economic, and political mobility. Made a salient remark about the case of newly elected U.S. Congressman Adriano Espaillat, who dared to apply to be a member of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus, which is still evaluating Espaillat’s membership application due to his insufficient blackness.
  • Indicated that former Congressman Charles Rangel was a member of such Caucus during his 42-year tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives. If we compare Rangel’s blackness to Espaillat’s as a qualifying requirement to be a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, “Nor is Rangel any blacker than Espaillat, because Rangel’s papá was Puerto Rican.”
  • There is the false notion that the community consists of quintessential newcomers who have not paid enough dues yet. The history of Dominicans in the USA tells otherwise. Suffices to look at the story of Arthur O. Eve, a retired lawmaker who we now regard as pioneering the Dominican presence in the New York State Legislature, having been elected to the Assembly in 1966 and serving for 36 consecutive and productive years.

Newark, NJ. – On Sunday, February 12, 2017, at Rutgers School of Law in Newark, NJ, Silvio Torres-Saillant, Ph.D., delivered the 17th Annual Conference on Dominican Affairs’ keynote address entitled The Reality of the Dominican Legacy in USA.

The speech lasts about 49 minutes, and it is available online via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjtoWcIWXWk&feature=emb_logo

Dr. Torres-Saillant renders a rare spellbinding MUST HEAR – MUST WATCH keynote speech debunking the narrative of recency used by some characters when talking about the Dominican migratory experience and political empowerment.

Thank you! I am very pleased to be here. I am very grateful to have this opportunity to address this impressive gathering of distinguished guests who come from near and far to attend this 17th Annual Conference on Dominican Affairs hosted by the National Dominican American Council and the Institute for Latino Studies, Research, and Development.

Council’s Chairman Nestor Montilla, Sr., and Institute’s President Maria Teresa Montilla have done me a great honor by asking me to share some thoughts with you as the keynote speaker.

I would like to begin by expressing appreciation for Nestor and Maria Teresa’s work over the years for people of Dominican descent in the United States.

Through the Council, the Institute, and the Dominican American National Roundtable, they have contributed enormously to make Dominicans part of a nationwide discourse on the future of this country and our place in it as agents of change.

It seems to be clear that many of the gains we have made on the electoral markets on the rights of many of our co-ethnics to position of prominence in the municipal, state and federal spheres of government have benefited from the measures of devotion they have invested in creating fora of various sort to advance a dialogue that expands our views of what is politically possible for us as an ethnic community.
So I ask for them a warm round of applause.

And among other things, Nestor has established himself as a bona fide historian of Dominicans in public life; unearthing the story of Arthur O. Eve, a retired lawmaker who we now regard as pioneering the Dominican presence in the New York State Legislature having been elected to the Assembly in 1966 and serving for 36 consecutive and productive years.

As a scholar, I deeply appreciate Nestor’s good efforts to help us complete the story of our presence in this country’s political arena.

Indeed, establishing the longevity of a Dominican presence in the various walks of life in U.S. society has long been a key component of our advocacy as a community, giving that in this country, minority groups often find themselves competing for attention to their social plight.

Historical longevity can serve as political credentials. Assuming them to have come to the United States just the other day as birds of passage with no intention to set down roots in this country, which meant they couldn’t possibly have acquired U.S. citizenship.

A legislator, until quite recently, could ignore the needs of the Dominican residents in his or her own district. The thought was that since their numerical presence did not translate into votes that could affect the public officials’ bid for reelection, it just didn’t matter that they were there.

As a result, the Dominican Studies Institute, among other initiatives, has long committed to an agenda of changing the “narrative of our recency” by disseminating information about how long the community has been around and how significant their political participation as citizens has been for a long time.

Despite the Institute’s efforts, until just a while ago, the narrative of our being the new kids on the block could still be heard reverberating from the voices of well-known characters in the media as recently as 2010.

For instance, Democracy Now co-host Juan Gonzalez, as the principal narrator of the 2010 documentary film Nueva York, a film on the history of the city’s relationship to the Hispanic world, emphatically abbreviated the story of Dominicans in this country: “There…he said categorically and I quote…” There was virtually no Dominican migration to the United States until the 1950s. None…none [he said with that emphasis], but once Trujillo was assassinated in 1961 and then, of course, after the U.S. invasion of 1965, suddenly, then, thousands of Dominicans came to the United States.” End of quote.

Ironically, Gonzalez’s self-assured affirmation came in a documentary produced as a companion to an exhibition presented as a collaboration between the New-York Historical Society and the Museo del Barrio., the show was called Nueva York 1613 through 1945, with 1613 referring to the year of the arrival year of the very first non-native American settler of the territory which later became New York, predating the arrival of the Dutch and the English, who would come much later.

The irony lies in the fact that that first settler happened to be a free mulatto from Santo Domingo named Juan Rodriguez. He was born in Hispaniola to a Portuguese sailor and an African woman.

You probably all know by now that as a result of the research conducted and disseminated by the Dominican Institute under the leadership of Dr. Ramona Hernandez with key support from Dominican members of the City Council in New York City, now a stretch of Broadway from 159th Street through 218th Street in Manhattan, bears the name of Juan Rodriguez Way.

The Dominican Studies Institute wisely seeks upon the opportunity to make the story of Juan Rodriguez widely known, precisely because it saw it as a symbolic weapon to use against the narrative of recency that often play conversations about Dominicans in the United States. It actually seems recent that New York City should have become after Juan Rodriguez the primary destination for people coming from the Dominican Republic to the United States.

Juan Rodriguez was important as reinforcement to those fighting the narrative that shortens the length of the Dominican experience on the land, and that incorrectly abbreviates a history that goes back at least to the mid 19th Century.

There is political significance on the kind of history that one can claim in this country. History is not neutral in this country.

The concern over the tale of recency corresponds to the well funded fear that allowing it to persist could have deleterious consequences on the community’s advancements.

There is the notion that the community consists of quintessential newcomers, who have not paid yet enough dues. If that narrative persists, it could follow that we are maybe deemed ineligible for seeking equal empowerment. The idea is ‘you just came the other day; we’ve been here for a long time; get online and wait your turn. What we are saying is that the calculation that has been made to determine who should be on the line…who should be in the back of the line or who should be at front is wrong and has to be corrected…

Dr. Torres-Saillant digs into his keynote speech by citing several instances illustrating the reality and challenges of the Dominican migratory experience in the United States. Stressing that media outlets and some characters have the tendency to use a questionable narrative of recency to illustrate the Dominican migratory experience as a paradigmatic case in the history of migration. He mentions, for instance, entrepreneur Fernando Mateo and how the New York Times depicted his life story and frequent traveling to the Dominican Republic to convey that Dominicans were not interested in building roots in the USA.

He also mentioned the case of newly elected Congressman Adriano Espaillat who dared to apply to be a member of the Black Congressional Caucus. Dr. Torres-Saillant explained that the Caucus is still evaluating Espaillat’s membership application due to his insufficient blackness. The audience burst into laughter, as Dr. Torres-Saillant kept on explaining that another reason why Congressman Espaillat’s membership application hasn’t been approved had to with the fact that the Black Congressional Caucus holds a grudge against Espaillat for attempting to unseat retired Charles Rangel, who served unchallenged as congressman for 42 years.

Dr. Torres-Saillant also made reference to the degree of blackness between Rangel and Espaillat. Regarding Rangel he said: “Nor is he any blacker than Espaillat, because his papá is Puerto Rican.”

Dean’s Professor in the Humanities

Silvio Torres-Saillant, Professor in the English Department, formerly headed the Latino-Latin American Studies Program in the College of Arts and Sciences. He co-founded La Casita Cultural Center, an organization that opened in the Near West Side of the City of Syracuse to create bridges of communication, collaboration, and exchange linking Syracuse University with the Latino population of the city and promoting the Hispanic heritage of Central New York. He has served in the core team of D.K. (Democratizing Knowledge), an initiative supported by the Chancellor’s Leadership Projects that promotes strategies for decolonizing the academy, and in the Syracuse University chapter of The Future of Minority Studies, a nationwide consortium of scholars working on efforts to foreground the ways of knowing and bodies of knowledge subjugated by the colonial transaction. He completed a two-year term as William P. Tolley Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities.

Professor Torres-Saillant came to Syracuse after having founded the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, a prestigious interdisciplinary research unit located in the City College of New York. He had his first full-time faculty position in the English Department of Hostos Community College, CUNY, and has held visiting appointments at Amherst College, Harvard University, the University of Cartagena, and the San Andrés campus of Colombia’s Universidad Nacional.

Torres-Saillant has served in the Delegate Assembly of the MLA, has chaired the MLA Committee on the Literatures of Peoples of Color in the United States and Canada and the selection committee for MLA Prize in Latino and Latina/Chicano and Chicana Literary and Cultural Studies, has served in the selection committee for the Senior Fulbright Scholar Program in Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean, has formed part of the Board of Directors of the New York Council for the Humanities, inter alia. A member of the Editorial Board of the University of Houston’s Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project, he serves as Associate Editor of Latino Studies (Palgrave). He has edited the New World Studies Series for the University of Virginia Press.

Professor Torres-Saillant has recently lectured in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curazao, Dominican Republic, Germany, Italy, Jamaica, and Mexico, apart from cities throughout the United States. His upcoming speaking engagements will take him to Bogota, Havana, Heidelberg, and Santiago (Chile), in addition to Amherst, Kutztown, Nashville, Stanford, and Storrs.

Research and Teaching Interests

Professor Torres-Saillant’s research and teaching interests revolve around some central concerns about the colonial transaction’s enduring legacy spearheaded by the Christian West starting over five centuries ago. They have to do with the relations of power that make bodies of knowledge unequal across regions, languages, and cultures. They involve the disparate value attached in the academy to ideas and ways of knowing depending on their producers’ geopolitical location. They respond to the continuing monopoly that the Christian West holds over the authority to define the human. As such, his research and teaching projects touch on race, ethnicity, intellectual history, imperial violence, the problem of culture and civilization, diaspora, migration, the tension between the ethnic and the human, and the necessity to interrupt the logic of maltreatment that informs the corporate capitalist system spawned by the colonial transaction.

Recent Courses

Professor Torres-Saillant has recently taught “Literature of the New American,” a course that surveys the writings of American authors of Native, African, Asian, Hispanic, Jewish, Irish, and Italian descent; “Transatlantic Letters,” a course that traces the cultural history produced by the colonial encounter of Spanish and British settlers from 1513 to 1940 in the territory now known as the United States; “Literature of the Caribbean Diaspora,” a course that examines interconnections among the literary productions of Caribbean-descended writers from the United States, Canada, England, France, the Netherlands, and Spain; “Latino Fiction, “a course that surveys the literary works of American writers of Hispanic descent from Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton to Justin Torres; “The Latino autobiography,” a course that explores the difficulties involved in the study of life-writing and in placing Latino-ness as a stable social identity; and “Living in a Diverse Society,” a course that deals with diversity as an academic subject, designed for students in the Multicultural Living and Learning Community.

Dominican American Council Members, Supporters & Friends

Swearing in ceremony of members of the Dominican American Council during the annual leadership summit of the Dominican American National Roundtable at Lehman College. Photo by Eduardo Hoepelman.
At the Dominican Republic Embassy in Washington DC during the Dominican American National Roundtable Summit at the US. Capitol. Photo by Eduardo Hoepelman.
Friends of DANR pose with DANR Chairman Nestor Montilla, Ph.D. and DANR former President Francesca Pena.
NY Senator Adriano Espaillat, the late NYS Senator Jose Peralta and DANR Chairman Nestor Montilla, Ph.D.
NYC Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez with DANR member Jose Cruz and friends of the Dominican American National Roundtable at the Harvard Club in New York City.
Dr. Ramona Hernandez, Executive Director of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute and a friend at the Harvard Club.
Dominican American leaders attending DANR reception of the Harvard Club.
DANR Presidents Cid Wilson, Dr. Maria Teresa Montilla and Dr. Nestor Montilla in Washington, DC.
Attorney Thoma Perez, former Chair of the Democratic National Committee, US Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights and Secretary of Labor, converse with Chairman Nestor Montilla, Ph.D., President of the Dominican American National Roundtable in Washington, DC.
DANR Chairman Nestor Montilla, Ph.D. and NYS Senator Adriano Espaillat at the Harvard Club.
Dr. Maria Teresa Montilla, Executive Director of the Institute for Latino Studies, Dr. Nestor Montilla, President of the Dominican American National Roundtable, and Dr. Ramona Hernandez, Executive Director of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute at the Harvard Club in New York City.
DANR Presidents Cid Wilson and Dr. Nestor Montilla pose with DANR Board Member Dennys Herzberg in New York City.
Some members of the Board of Directors of the Dominican American National Roundtable. Front row from right, Claribel Martinez-Marmolejos, Dr. Dilcia Grandville, Dr. Maria Teresa Montilla, America Tavarez-Scroch and Francesca Pena. Second row from right, Kendrys Vasquez, DANR’s Council Vice President representing Lawrence, MA, Mr. Granville, Dr. Nestor Montilla, DANR Chairman, and friends of the DANR.
NYS Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat, Singer Milly Quezada, PA Councilman Julio Guridy, Dr. Nestor Montilla, DANR Chairman, and NYC Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez. Photo by Eduardo Hoepelman.
Dr. Miguel Hernandez, DANR NY Vice President, Jose Martinez, writer Rhina Espaillat, community leader Lucilo Santos, DANR FL Vice President Daisy Baez, and DANR supporter during the annual conference of the Dominican American Council in Queens, NY.
Dr. Nestor Montilla, DANR President, NYS Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat and US Congressman Charles Rangel in New York City at a reception after the Board of the Dominican American National Roundtable met at Hostos Community College to elect its national president. Photo by Eduardo Hoepelman.
Elias Alcantara, Pierina Sanchez, Idelsa Mendez, DANR fellows and friends with Dr. Nestor Montilla, DANR Chairman at a reception in New York City.
Dr. Nestor Montilla, DANR President and Maestro Rafael Solano.
Business leader Arelis Martinez, NYC District leader Maria Luna, PA Councilman Julio Guridy, Dr. Nestor Montilla, DANR Chairman, and Dr. Maria Teresa Montilla, Executive Director of the Institute for Latino Studies.
Participants of the DANR National Conference at Lehman College. Front row from left, Lehman College President Dr. Ricardo Fernandez, Dr. Maria Teresa Montilla, Executive Director of the Institute for Latino Studies, Dr. Guillermo Linares, and NYS Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. Photo by Eduardo Hoepelman.
Panelists of the education forum during the National Conference of the Dominican American National Roundtable at Lehman College. From left, Ms. Rhina Tavarez, NYC school teacher Jose Cruz, El Quijote del GED, Martha de Espaillat, NYC School Superintendent, and Dr. Julia Lara, DANR Vice President representing Washington, DC. Photo by Eduardo Hoepelman.
At Lehman College during the Dominican American National Roundtable Conference. From left, Dr. Dilcia Grandville, PA Councilman Julio Guridy, Dr. Nestor Montilla, DANR Chairman, Dr. Maria Teresa Montilla, Executive Director of the Institute for Latino Studies, Dr. Guillermo Linares, US Ambassador to the Dominican Republic His Excellency Raul Yzaguirre, NYS Senator Gustavo Rivera, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Dr. Alberto Correa, Mr. Pachin, Bronx leader Yudelka Tapia and NYS Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. Photo by Eduardo Hoepelman.
Community leader, Rhadames Perez, Dr. Ramon Antonio Veras (El Negro Veras) Sara and Rosario Espinal, Ph.D. at Lehman College during the Annual Conference of the Dominican American National Roundtable.
Community leader Yudelka Tapia at the podium during the DANR National Conference at Lehman College. From right MA Assemblyman Marcos A. Devers, Maryland Assemblywoman Joseline Pena-Melnyk, Allentown PA Councilman Julio Guridy and Paterson NJ Councilman Julio Tavarez.
Members of the Dominican American National Roundtable pose with board directors at the end of the DANR National Conference at Lehman College of The City University of New York.
His Excellency Roberto Saladin, Dominican Republic Ambassador to the United States and Dr. Nestor Montilla, DANR President, at the National Press Club in Washington DC. (Archival photo by Eduardo Hoepelman).
Dr. Nestor Montilla, DANR Chairman, Dr. Maria Teresa Montilla, Executive Director of the Institute for Latino Studies, His Excellency Luis Abinader, President of the Dominican Republic and former DANR President Rev. Alejandro Benjamin (Photo by Eduardo Hoepelman).
Members of the National Dominican American Council at Rutgers School of Law at the end of the Annual Leadership Summit.
DANR board members pose with conference participants of the Dominican American Council Annual Leadership Summit at the Robeson Campus Center at Rutgers University in Newark, NJ.
Members of the National Dominican American Council during the annual leadership summit at Rutgers University.
Panelists at the Annual Leadership Summit of the Dominican American National Roundtable at Rutgers School of Law.
Members of the National Dominican American Council of Puerto Rico.
DANR Presidents Reverend Alejandro Benjamin, Francesca Pena, Dr. Maria Teresa Montilla and Dr. Nestor Montilla at the Conrad Hotel n San Juan, Puerto Rico during the annual leadership summit of the Dominican American National Roundtable.
Meetings of the National Dominican American Council at various locations including Pennsylvania, Bronx, NY, Paterson, and Perth Amboy, NJ, and Massachusetts.
Members of the Board of Directors pose with US Ambassador to the Dominican Republic Raul Izaguirre. Front row from right, Dr. Guillermo Linares, Dr. Maria Teresa Montilla, US Ambassador Raul Izaguirre, Dr. Dilcia Granville, Claribel Martinez Marmolejos, Dr. Julia Lara. Second row from left, Miguel Santana, Luis Facundo and Dr. Nestor Montilla at Lehman College during the welcoming reception of the National Dominican American Roundtable leadership summit.
Dr. Nestor Montilla, DANR Chairman, Claribel Martinez Marmolejos, former NYS Secretary of State Cesar Perales Dr. Maria Teresa Montilla and Arelis Martinez.
Fellows of the Dominican American National Roundtable pose with Board of Directors at a fundraising event in New York City. From left, Dr. Nestor Montilla, DANR Chairman, Dr. Amaris Guzman, DANR Youth President, DANR MA Vice President Maria Moreno, Dr. Maria Teresa Montilla, Executive Director of the Institute for Latino Studies, and DANR fellows Pierina Sanchez, Paola Martinez Wilson Angeles, and Dahiana Tejada.
U.S. House of Representative Adriano Espaillat, Miladys Baez and Dr. Nestor Montilla, DANR Chairman at the U.S. Capitol.a
Panelists of the forum Dominicans are black too at Howard University. From left, MA Representative Marcos Devers, Medgar Evers College director of public relations Fred Price, Dr. Nestor Montilla, DANR President and Chairman, Rev. Alejandro Benjamin, Dr. Irma Nicasio, professor at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, and the Francophone world.
DANR fellows attending the Dominican American National Roundtable’s annual conference in Washington, DC. Wilson Angeles, Emmanuel Hernandez, Franklin Ventura, Maria Moreno, and other fellows.
DANR fellows attending the annual conference of the National Council of La Rasa (NCLR) in Washington, DC.
DANR Youth President Amaris Guzman, Ph.D. and DANR Chairman Nestor Montilla, Ph.D. at the Harvard Club.
After testifying before a three-judge panel at the US District Court – Eastern District of New York, from right NYC Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, NYS Senator Adriano Espaillat, NYC District Leader Maria Luna, Dr. Nestor Montilla, DANR Chairman, Dr. Maria Teresa Montilla, President and Executive Director of the Latino Studies Institute, Dr. Marilu Galvan and husband.
From left, DANR Chairman Nestor Montilla, Ph.D., US Ambassador Raul Izaguirre, NYS Speaker Carl Heastei, an unidentified leader and Yudelka Tapia during the opening reception of the Annual Leadership Summit of the National Dominican American Roundtable at Lehman College.
DANR at the Mall in Washington, DC.
Members of the Dominican American National Roundtable join Chairman Nestor Montilla, Claribel Martinez Marmolejos and Maria Teresa Montilla in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
DANR Fellows visiting the U.S. Capitol.
DANR Nestor Montilla marching for immigration reform at the Mall in Washington, DC>
Fellows of the Dominican American National Roundtable attending the Student Dominican American Conference at Yale University.
Rally for immigration reform.
Friends and supporters of the Dominican American National Roundtable join DANR Chairman Nestor Montilla, Ph.D., in a discussion about Dominican identity at the Paterson Museum in New Jersey.
Audience of the Dominican American National Roundtable Conference’s forum Dominicans are black too held at Howard University in Washington, DC.
Dr. Nestor Montilla and Dr. Silvio Torres-Saillant at forum discussion about Dominican Identity at Yale University.
DANR Chairman Nestor Montilla, Ph.D., speaks at the U.S. Capitol during the Dominican American National Roundtable’s annual conference reception.
Marching for immigration reform.
Marching for immigration reform in Washington, DC. From left, Silverio Valentin, an unidentified photographer, DANR Chairman Nestor Montilla, a community leader, photographer Eduardo Hoepelman and Dr. Maria Teresa Montilla, Executive Director of the Institute for Latino Studies.
Marching for immigration reform in Washington, DC.
Marching for immigration reform at the U.S. Mall.
DANR National Vice President Julio Guridy and DANR President Nestor Montilla, Ph.D., at the U.S. Capitol.
Dr. Clement Akassi, Spanish and French Professor, Director of Graduate Studies at Howard University’s Department of World Languages and Cultures and researchers on African and African Diaspora Studies in Hispanophone, Lusophone, and the Francophone world, during the welcoming reception of the Dominican American National Roundtable’s annual conference in Washington DC.
Community leaders pose with Dr. Maria Teresa Montilla, DANR President in Boston, MA.
In Providence, RI, from left, DANR President Victor Capellan, RI Representative Grace Diaz, DANR President and Chairman Nestor Montilla, RI State Senator Juan Pichardo, Dr. Maria Teresa Montilla, Executive Director of the Institute for Latino Studies, and Jose Bello, President of Glaction Corporation.
DANR Chairman Nestor Montilla, Dr. Maria Teresa Montilla, NYS Assembylan Felix Ortiz and Claribel Martinez-Marmolejos.
Dr. Nestor Montilla, Chairman of the Dominican American National Roundtable and Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader at the NJ Conference on Dominican Affairs at Rutgers School of Law. Photo by Eduardo Hoepelman.
Dr. Marilu M. D. Galvan, Executive Director of Centro Civico Dominicano; Ana Garcia Reyes, Hostos Community College Dean; Mr. Manuel Acevedo; Dr. Maria Teresa Montilla, Executive Director of the Institute for Latino Studies; Dr. Nestor Montilla, DANR & National Dominican American Council Chairman; Dr. Nurys De Oleo; Zenaida Mendez, Executive Director of El Barrio Firehouse; and Rosita Romero, Executive Director of the Dominican Women’s Development Center.