Texas Rangers are propagated everywhere from film to TV shows as cowboys and heroes; they’re the good guys with the big hats and shiny badges. But how these rangers built their fame by beating, brutalizing, and murdering Mexicans is a conversation left out of the history books. The Texas Rangers were founded in 1835 shortly after the Mexican War of Independence. What started off as a group of men acting as rangers to protect the land of newly settled families in Mexican Texas, turned into an active racist targeting ploy.
A popular image of these Texas Rangers in 1915 says a lot about what their objectives were. It’s a postcard that shows three Texas Rangers standing tall and proud over the dead bodies of four Mexican Tejanos who they killed at random as retaliation for an earlier raid. They titled it, “Dead Mexican Bandits.” Texas Rangers loved to antagonize Mexicans, by illustrating them as “bandits” they were justifying to the public their lawless brutality along with instilling fear in those who tried to stand up to them.
Tons of violences towards Mexican families took place between 1848 and 1928. Mobs lynched atleast 597 mexicans; they lived with the fear of lynching everyday and were actively given reasons to run. They were segregated into crammed shotgun communities, were forced to sell their land, and were constantly refused services because they were “dirty”, and who was there to enforce all of these injustices? Texas Rangers. They ruled with an iron fist, reinforcing their narratives of Mexicans as criminals.
The injustices were not completely erased however, Mexican Tejanos found a way to preserve their truth through corridos. Through these songs, they would recount stories of vigilantes who fought the anti-Mexican sentiments. Academics today have found that many of the corridos held true to their account. One of the most famous corridos of the time period is the “Corrido de Gregorio Cortez” which recalls Cortez’s run from Texas Rangers after he killed two sheriffs as retaliation for his brother. Corridos were a way for many Mexicans to tell their side of the story.
History books in America focus almost exclusively on the white narrative. It’s pretty sad thinking that you can go to Texas right now, enter a Texas Ranger Museum, and get yourself your own custom Texas Ranger badge. Imagine a hispanic name like Maria or Jose on a badge that used to beat and harass Hispanics for sport and monetary gain. Texas Rangers even have their own major league baseball team. They shouldn’t be put on a pedestal or commemorated as heavily as they are, it‘s unfair to the hundreds of Tejano families that were robbed of their homes and loved ones, and who had to endure the Texas Rangers tyranny.