Editor’s note: Eight history faculty submitted this letter to The Ranger calling for a “campus conversation” on the selection of a college mascot.
|As faculty members in the history program, we are dismayed with the selection of “Antonio the Ranger” as the new SAC mascot. After being unveiled Oct. 9 at a pep rally, SAC-PR’s Instagram introduced him as “Antonio, the masked Ranger.”
In an interview with Texas Public Radio published Oct. 31, the college president, Dr. Robert Vela, stated that the mask will be removed. Taking the mask off, however, does not solve the problem.
The choice of “Antonio the Ranger” as the new SAC mascot is reflective of ethnic stereotypes of Mexican Americans as “bandits.”
This is part of a broader national issue of using indigenous people as mascots. It furthermore conflates historical actors with their victimizers by evoking the name of the Texas Rangers, which at one point was a paramilitary organization that terrorized communities such as Porvenir in the U.S.-Mexican borderlands.
This choice not only ignores the historical trauma associated with the Texas Rangers; it also retraumatizes SAC’s Chicanx students and community members less than three months after the El Paso shooting — an act of terrorism against Mexican American and Mexican communities.
For years, the college leadership recognized the violent past of the “Ranger” mascot. Previous versions of the “About the Mascot” webpage introduced the “Gnome Ranger” mascot by noting:
“Over the years, several different variations of ‘Ranger’ images have been created and used. However, the images grew to look cruel, harsh and mean. Due to the historical controversy surrounding the Texas Rangers, SAC decided to no longer use a human image to depict the Ranger.”
This paragraph was removed once Antonio — a human image — was introduced as the new Ranger.
We also are disappointed that this choice was made without adequate feedback from SAC students, faculty and staff.
According to the TPR interview with our college president, community input was not solicited due to a lack of time and resources.
Vela stated, “We simply needed something to go with this year because we had an unveiling of a new gym.”
While noting that he is open to students making a change to the mascot’s costume in the future, he continued, “I simply did not want to go through another academic year with them not being completely happy with the Gnome Ranger.”
Why weren’t a critical mass of students consulted before the rushed unveiling of this new mascot? Why are they being invited to only revise this mascot now?
There is no alteration to the image of the Ranger that is going to alter the trauma that its very name evokes.
In the spirit of fostering a campus conversation around the “Ranger” mascot in the coming months, the history program at SAC will be holding several events and workshops dedicated to exploring the history of the Rangers, controversies over mascots and incidents of racialized violence.
It is hard to be “SAC proud” about this misguided choice and the lack of transparency in which it was made.
We urge administrators and student leaders to put “Antonio the Ranger” on hold and work more cooperatively to choose a mascot of which SAC can truly be proud.
Dr. Sean Duffy
Dr. Erik Anderson
Dr. Lisa Ramos
Dr. Marianne Bueno
Dr. Amelia Serafine
Dr. Suraya Khan
Dr. Seabrook Jones
Dr. Brooke Linsenbardt