“I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.” – Mark Twain quoted in A Pen Warmed Up in Hell
When i was thinking about creating new designs for RICANSTRUCTED i thought about the saying “sick of the same old record”. That saying struck a chord in me in terms of US imperialism and how the colonization of Puerto Rico over 100 years ago is not so different from the US imperialism of today. So i came up with a design of a record label that would encompass early American imperialism abroad. Outside of the battles with with indigenous nations and the war with Mexico, the Spanish – American War was the first imperial adventure for the US outside of North America . It was a war that proved to be very successful for American imperialism and put the US on the road to becoming a world power.
i designed this record label to tell the story of the colonization of Puerto Rico in keeping with RICANSTRUCTED’s mission as a design company to support the Puerto Rican independence movement. i created a fictitious record company called the MANIFEST DESTINY RECORD COMPANY. Manifest Destiny was an ideology that came about in the 1840’s and shaped and guided US imperialism westward across North America. The thinking behind it was that the US was destined to expand across the continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific. (Check out a previous post in which i speak in greater detail on Manifest Destiny in the post – A Rejection Of American Mythology) Manifest Destiny was the guiding principle responsible for bringing the US to war with Mexico in 1846 and also drew the US into war with Spain in 1898.
i set out to use a variety of design elements to tell the story of Puerto Rico’s colonization by the US in 1898. The illustration of the eagle was taken from a political newspaper cartoon, with a caption underneath that read, “Ten thousand miles from tip to tip -“. Nothing could illustrate US imperialism better so i decided to use it as a kind of logo for the Manifest Destiny Record Company. The title of the song on the record ‘PORTO RICO YOU BELONG TO ME’ was something that i used to showcase the shamelessness of US imperialism and the level of comfort a former colony had in it’s desire to build an empire. ‘UNCLE SAM & THE IMPERIALISTS’ are the fictitious group that i created for the record as a short hand way of charging the guilty with their crimes. The song is composed by the four commanding generals of the Spanish – American War Miles, Dewey, Shafter and Sampson.
‘Side A’ was something that i used to connote that there are always two sides to any story just like their are two sides to a record. ‘Side A’ is considered the first side so it only makes sense that it’s the side of US imperialism since this where the problem begins. The pistol is a gun that was used during the Spanish – American War and is symbolic of the violence that’s used in building the US empire. The term ‘LONG PLAYING’ alludes to the fact that Puerto Rico is still a colony of and that US imperialism is still an ongoing problem in the world.
The numbers underneath ‘LONG PLAYING’ separated by the bullet point are ‘725’ – July 25th the beginning of the invasion of Puerto Rico in 1898 by US forces and ‘1210’ – December 10th which was the day that the Treaty of Paris was signed with Spain affectively ending the war and transferring the nation of Puerto Rico from Spanish colonial rule (under which Puerto Rico had been negotiating and gaining it’s autonomy for over a year) to US colonial rule. The bottom of the label has a MADE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA title with the address of US House of Representatives beneath it placing the responsibility for this imperial adventure where it should be, squarely on the shoulders of the US government.
Check out some of the other RICANSTRUCTED designs. And for those of you who aren’t Puerto Rican, realize that you don’t have to be Puerto Rican, to support Puerto Rican independence…