Picric Acid & colonialism
March 21st can be a sensitive day in Puerto Rican social media. A day — like September 23rd — in which la mancha de plátano has a particular itch. Puerto Ricans will argue about what happened that dark day in 1937. Regardless of the discourses exchanged, the Puerto Rico Insular Police — ordered by Governor Blanton Winship — killed 21 and wounded hundreds in the city of Ponce, Puerto Rico.
It is very easy to come across the usual procession of half-truths & colonized discourse in PR social media, especially when it comes this massacre of Nationalists — forever vilified by large sectors of Puerto Rican society.
Almost a decade ago — 2012, to be exact —
I was consuming social media on that day of an early, hot, and humid Puerto Rican Spring. One comment to this picture caught my attention: someone — a white American male — posted the following link:
Sculptor Shep Miers likes riding his Vespa around Little Rock. He easily zips from his home, to the Arkansas Arts…
Marker dedicated to Puerto Rican immigrants sparks a historical rediscovery
(via Elvin Demirel):
“Miers entered Calvary Cemetery to inspect the marker. On the tombstone, he read, “In Memoriam of the Porto Ricans who died at Picron, Ark. 1917–18.” A mass grave.”
Almost 180 Puerto Ricans died in a picric acid plant in Arkansas, and no one — teachers, professors, historians, media, etc. — told me or anyone I know about this tragedy.
This highly explosive organic compound — used for brewing, dye preparation, and as an antiseptic , among many other uses— had an important role to play in early XXth century warfare:
When picric acid is melted, it assumes the appearance of honey,
which property suggested recently to an ingenious Frenchman,
anxious to pose as one who…