The mascot debate should extend to the student publication, The Ranger, student said.
By Sergio Medina
The Ranger mascot is a symbol of white supremacy, said members of Somos la Gente, a student and faculty-led group from this college.
Somos la Gente has been advocating for the removal of the Ranger Gnome, this college’s mascot, since spring 2017.
Spanish for we are the people, the group was created in 2016 under the Mexican-American studies program.
“This was during the election, the 2016 (presidential) election, and there were a lot of anti-Mexican, anti-immigrant sentiments,” Diana Flores, Mexican-American studies sophomore said July 2. “We felt that, I felt that we needed a student group so Mexicans, immigrants (and) Latinos could feel safe.”
With the help of Dr. Lisa Ramos, Mexican-American studies coordinator, the group was founded.
“It quickly evolved into being open to all students, primarily students of color,” Flores said. “We knew that our problems were intersectional with other people’s.”
Flores said that she is surprised that an institution, whose population is made up of about 60% Hispanics, uses a symbol that reflects a racist and discriminatory past at the hands of the Texas Rangers.
The Ranger previously published a piece about the problematic past of the Rangers.
“It just needs to change,” Flores said. “It’s violent; it’s racist.”
The mascot should be something to be proud of, she said.
“I don’t want to move on to a university and say, ‘oh well my mascot was a Ranger.’”
Naty Roman, Mexican-American studies sophomore and member of Somos la Gente, said, “I think what the Ranger represents for me, knowing the history, is white supremacy.
“A Ranger mascot that was chosen, you know, in 1926, in the heat when all this stuff was happening — these atrocities were happening, there’s no other way to interpret it.”
Greg Estrada, history sophomore and member of Somos la Gente, said the mascot is a symbol of oppression in Texas.
“As an indigenous person myself whose family was harassed by Texas Rangers, it reminds me that my family isn’t welcome in their own home.”
Ramos said the students in Somos la Gente did their own research about the Texas Ranger.
“I hadn’t even gone that deep, and they shared it with me, and through the students, I was learning about Starr County, the melon strike of 1966, how the Texas Rangers went and beat up and harassed the labor union organizers. This wasn’t 1923; this was 1966.
“What more do people want?” she said.
Ramos said that as a Mexican-American who grew up in the Rio Grande Valley, she understands the frustration that comes with symbols like the Ranger mascot.
“That is where some of the worst violence by the Texas Rangers was committed,” she said.
“This is not a professional opposition; this is a personal one.
“If you talk to a lot of the older generation, people over 60 years old, they will tell you that we were taught, we were raised, that every Ranger has Mexican blood at the tip of their boots.”
Whether that was true or not, their generation was taught to keep away from the Texas Rangers, Ramos added.
Flores said her mother worked harvesting melons in Starr County.
“My mom worked in the melons, with the watermelons, all of that stuff,” she said. “We were taught to stay away from law enforcement.”
A sense of fear has embedded itself in the Hispanic community throughout the years because of the Rangers’ past, she added.
“This is systemic racism,” Ramos said.” You’ve heard that repeated in the current protests, and that systemic racism is white supremacy to maintain that order.”
Flores said the conversation about the mascot should extend to the journalism program’s newspaper, The Ranger.
“I’ve read the articles that The Ranger has published over the past couple of years that I’ve been there (this college), and there are so many amazing journalists that come by SAC, and they’re always so well-written.
“So for it being a Ranger, it’s a disservice to everyone who’s coming in there because it is, you know, a symbol of white supremacy,” she said.
The name won’t change the fact that the writers and articles are good, she added.
“But the name does need to change.”
Somos la Gente agrees that if a new mascot is selected, the vote should go through the students and faculty.
Flores said an animal native to the area, such as the caracara, or carrion hawk, could be an option.
“It has to come through the students, staff and faculty. That’s who the mascot represents.”
Students, employees and the community can submit feedback about the Ranger mascot here.
Feedback will be accepted until 5 p.m. July 8.
College Council will gather July 14 to vote on the future of the mascot.
Celeste Aguilera, public administration sophomore and member of Somos la Gente, said, “The fact that it’s getting as much attention as it is; the fact that there is progress happening just shows that we’re in the right fight.”
Ramos said that if this college keeps the mascot, then it is a way of maintaining the order white supremacy demands, which is that of people of color are inferior to white people. “That’s not what we’re about.”
Flores said, “SAC is growing, and the Ranger cannot grow with it.”