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Brockport professor discusses Puerto Rico's standing

by Zach Wagner - Lifestyles Editor
Wed, Feb 12th 2020 05:00 pm
Anne Macpherson, PH.D., stands with books regarding the history of Puerto Rico, a topic she has studied for many years and is deeply passionate about.
Anne Macpherson, PH.D., stands with books regarding the history of Puerto Rico, a topic she has studied for many years and is deeply passionate about.


In the year 1898, Puerto Rico became a United States territory, and since then not much has changed regarding the little island off the southeast coast of the United States mainland.  

When most U.S. citizens think of Puerto Rico, the question of why it has never gained statehood never seems to be brought to the light. It is a small controversy that bypasses many people but still troubles some who have done their research.

Chair of the History Department at The College at Brockport, Anne Macpherson, Ph.D., is one among the slim population that is educated on all the things that has happened with Puerto Rico over the years.

“I had a professor in grad school who is Puerto Rican and I was actually a teaching assistant for his Puerto Rican history class,” Macpherson said. “After finishing up a project on Belize I turned my attention to Puerto Rico, the research I had been doing prompted me to create a course on Puerto Rican history.”  

During the presentation, Macpherson shed light on why the average person may not know all the facts regarding Puerto Rico. The lack of education on Puerto Rico coming up through the ranks of grade school is one of the main contributors to the lack of knowledge on the subject. Macpherson believes that even though it is reality, the U.S. doesn’t want to face the fact it is acting as a ruler over these colonies, denoting the messages preached in this country.

“I think if you want to talk about what I talked about tonight,” Macpherson said. “You have to recognize that Puerto Rico is still a colony. I think most Americans don’t want to face the fact — we like to think of ourselves as a country that fought against empire — how could we then become somewhere that has colonies of our own — it’s not a reality we want to face.”  

A deal that was made in the early 1950s is what has kept stated Puerto Rico would stay as a possession of the United States as long as we took care of the people.

“They created what’s called commonwealth — and since the early 1950s it’s just been hard to break through that,” Macpherson said. “The political party that has the greatest chance of doing that is the pro-statehood party. But still the ultimate decision is congress’ decision, Puerto Ricans do not get to decide if they become a state,” Macpherson said.

Since this deal has been done, the people involved have become comfortable with the situation, including some members of Puerto Rico. But there are definitely some people in the colony that would love to be granted statehood.

“I think there are some people that think Puerto Rico is a liability — but I think that most people are just fine with the status quo and honestly there are some Puerto Ricans who are fine with the status that Puerto Rico has as well,” Macpherson said. “But there’s an increasing number of Puerto Ricans who want statehood.”

 Audited student and longtime member of the community on campus at the college Joan Fenton was in attendance to listen to Macpherson’s talk. With recent interest in history courses, Fenton thought this presentation would be perfect to attend to learn something new.

“I have suddenly gotten interested in the history courses and we have taken several courses, but nothing about Puerto Rico and I know very little about Puerto Rico,” Fenton said. “One of my questions has always been, why hasn’t Puerto Rico became a state yet?”

After hearing what Macpherson had to say, Fenton was able to take something away, creating her own opinions when regarding the future of Puerto Rico.

“[Macpherson’s] presentation helped me to realized what has been going on and why it’s not a state,” Fenton said. “I think personally that it should become a state because first of all these are people we have created an identity with, we have had them serve in our wars — I think that we shouldn’t have a territory without them having the ability to become a state.”

When Macpherson gave her presentation, you could feel her passion as she laid out the facts for everyone to hear. With forgotten issues like the events that have transpired with Puerto Rico, the activism showed by Macpherson is what helps to spread the message on these issues.     

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