Calif. high school asked to abandon Arab mascot

1:33 PM, Nov 7, 2013   |    comments
The Coachella Valley High School mascot gives the thumbs up sign at a 2010 football game (Jay Calderon/the Desert Sun)
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +

THERMAL, Calif. (MYDESERT.COM) - A national anti-discrimination group is pressuring Coachella Valley High School to abandon its longstanding mascot - a sneering, hook-nosed "Arab," sometimes with a single tooth.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee sent a letter on Friday chastising the Coachella Valley Unified School District for "orientalist stereotyping" in school murals, football halftime shows and the mascot in general.

Superintendent Darryl Adams said the mascot controversy will be discussed at the next school board meeting on Nov. 21. Adams would not say whether he planned to recommend a change of mascot, but admitted "the Arab" has given him pause in the past.

"When I first came here, I raised an eyebrow (at the mascot)," Adams said. "Being an African-American from the Deep South, I'm sensitive to stereotyping. But in this context, when this was created it was not meant in that way. It was totally an admiration of the connection with the Middle East."

According to the Coachella Valley High School Alumni Association, the Arab mascot was chosen in the 1920s to acknowledge the east valley's reliance on date farming, a traditionally Middle Eastern crop. Another link between the Middle East and the east valley can be seen in the name of the nearby community of Mecca, the association states.

Since it was created in the 1920s, the school's mascot has evolved from a turban-wearing horseman carrying a lance to a standing figure, wielding a scimitar and wearing a fez, to an older snarling face with a gold tooth and a headscarf.


Most Watched Videos