Editor’s note: This is a revised version of the letter previously published Nov. 11. 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 on October 9th at a pep rally, SAC-PR’s Instagram introduced him as “Antonio, the masked Ranger.” In an interview with the Texas Public Radio (TPR) published on October 31, SAC’s President Dr. 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 also 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, TX in the U.S.-Mexican borderlands and indigenous peoples across the state. The adoption of the mascot by a then-segregated San Antonio College happened little over a decade after the peak of this violence. Indeed, the very adoption of the name Rangers for the state law enforcement agency in 1874 was intended to distance the organization from the actions that the Reconstruction-era Texas State Police took to protect the civil and political rights of African Americans in Texas. In the 21st century, it seems highly problematic to pick a mascot that simultaneously reinforces negative stereotypes and evokes racialized violence from Rangers.
This choice not only ignores the historical trauma associated with the Texas Rangers; it also retraumatizes SAC’s 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, SAC’s 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. (Source)
This paragraph was removed once Antonio – a human image – was introduced as the new “Ranger.”
We are also 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.
We believe that a campus conversation about the mascot and the “Ranger” figure can be a learning moment for our entire community. In the spirit of fostering such a conversation over the next few months, the History program will be holding several events dedicated to exploring the history of the Rangers, incidents of racialized violence, and San Antonio College’s early history.
It is hard to be “SAC proud” about this misguided choice and the lack of transparency in which it was made. We urge SAC 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