Reading Response Essay

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Reading Response Essay Assignment

Question One

Over less than two centuries ago, U.S. residents of Mexican descent in the Texas counties and Mexico-U.S. border were subject to a surge of extrajudicial killings carried out by the Texas Rangers. James Stillwell, the Governor, had instructed the special arm of law enforcement to employ dubious means to wade-off undesirables with the hidden intent to acquire full ownership of their land. One of the key methods applied was trickery. The Texas Rangers would approach Mexican Tejanas with instructions from Stillwell to offer them protection from cattle bandits. The strategy enabled law enforcement to gain the trust of the Mexican residents, as seen in Daniel Ruiz de Plata’s simple acceptance of the protection. According to the narrative, “Daniel Ruiz de Plata was a law-abiding citizen…the Texas Rangers had never done him wrong. So, when they asked for his help in capturing Bandidos stealing his cattle, he said yes” (Carmona 27). People thought the Rangers were the good guys, but in a real sense, they were carrying out the Governor’s dirty work.

Another instance of trickery is seen when Macario, Chonnie and Daniel realize they have been dragged into a clearing to be killed if they do not accept the Governor’s price offer of $50 per acre for their ranch. Consider Chonnie’s abrupt surprise when he states, what in tarnation is going on? I thought we were chasing Bandidos for rustling cattle, but here we are. Ain’t this a pickle” (Carmona 55). The three Mexican Tejanas had been trapped like mice in a trap by the Governor and the Texas Rangers.

Question Two

The book talks about ‘El-Rinche’ a Mexican named Chonnie who takes the identity of a ghost ranger to avenge the abuse his family and community suffered. Chonnie comes across a diverse range of historical figures in his pretentious role. The interactions result in the character adopting a traditional Japanese weapon and a ‘warrior-rebel’ demeanor. El-Rinche was now a character that had survived a massacre, recovered and learned ninjutsu. His newfound power and confidence inspire Mexican Tejanas to rise against their oppressors. Such confidence oozes when Chonnie captures Ernesto and Gloria. Chonnie confidently instructs, “I want you to tell your boss that there’s a new player in town. And I aim to stop all of you. Whatever it takes.” (Carmona 119).

            The inspiration that El-Rinche gave to Mexican Tejanas was the reason behind the creation of the legend and ballad. The character gave them a reason to be proud of their racial heritage, hence the song. Cultural songs tend to share messages across generations, shaping Mexican attitudes to resist White oppression. Throughout human history, people have made songs and stories of people who did extraordinary things to commemorate them as legends.

Question Three

It was essential that minority racial communities work together against the Texas Rangers because they mainly comprised the majority White. The governor and law enforcement represented a common enemy for African Americans, Native Americans, Japanese Americans and Mexican Americans. Racial hatred was so virulent that the author quotes, “the hatred for Japanese was too dangerous” (Carmona 59). If minorities did not work together, they faced further oppression and potential extinction at the hands of the Texas Rangers. Moreover, failure to address the oppression also meant the erosion of American ethos. Many immigrants moved to the country to dream and settle, but the Texas Rangers were negating the viability of such a life and national identity.

African Americans had always been subject to racial oppression from the Whites since the onset of slavery. The minority race was seen only as sources of labour and social security. On the other hand, Caucasians always perceived Native Americans as barbarians and savages. The group was not respected due to their preference for nature over industrial and technical developments. The Japanese did not face much discrimination upon their arrival because the Mexicans received them. The author quotes that Hiro Akiyama was able to move much around states, and at Port Isabel, he and other Japanese migrants were well welcomed by Mexicans (Carmona 59). Most of the discrimination occurred when the Japanese moved inlands and interacted more with the Whites.

Question Four

While many instances in the book stand out due to courageous and extraordinary human actions, it is difficult not to consider when Shadow Wolf is shot as the best moment. Otherwise known as Sheryl, Wolf loses the foot that she needs to be an effective fighter. In addition, she has already been caught twice by Bass Reeves because of her false identity. Bass leverages a deal for Sheryl for her to sell out Pablo Honey. However, Sheryl cleverly retorts, “You can’t be that stupid Bass. I sure ain’t. You let me go. I finish you, or you finish me. That’s the only way this ends” (Carmona 173). The statement was illuminating because it made Bass Reeves realize that she, Sheryl and other minority characters were fighting for the same thing, the security of their children and grandchildren’s futures. The scene marked the start of a healthy and fruitful relationship between the two characters. For instance, Sheryl warns Reeves about Slim. She states, “Do not trust Slim. He is not a good friend.” In the end, Sheryl saves Reeves from Slim as he pulls out a gun to kill her. There is both a feministic and survival appeal in the scene that made it so interesting to me.

Question Five

Every man or woman has the moral right to defend their property from unauthorized or illegal access. If I was a Mexican Tejana, standing up against the Texas Rangers would have the same value as engaging in a just war. Law enforcement was exceeding its authority by being corrupt and working for the Governor. Despite having no legal right to the Native’s land, racial privilege allowed the Whites to get their way. Rebelling is also a way to inspire others to action. According to the book, El-Rinche became so famous and mysterious that people made him a legend. It is quoted, “The locals call it El Rinche Fantasma…but he had a mask, two katanas and shuriken” (Carmona 1619). It seems necessary to rally minority communities in the face of racial discrimination. In the context of El-Rinche, I would still fight against the oppressors to avenge the loss of my loved ones. The innocents had committed no crime and did not deserve the suffering or fate they met. The Jus Ad Bellum considers war or violence as the last resort when there is a just cause. I would have not resisted the Texas Rangers in a way El-Rinche did if other alternatives, such as diplomacy, were available. Nevertheless, there is a just cause for violence in the book.

Work Cited

Carmona, Christopher. El-Rinche: The Ghost of the Rio Grande. Jade Publishing, 2018.

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