A California high school has decided to drop its Arab mascot after 83 years.
The Coachella Valley High School mascot was a hooked-nose Arab with a thick beard and a large grin. The school district in Riverside County has agreed to compromise with the school’s Arab community by dropping its mascot (and a belly dancer), which many found offensive. The district and members of the Arab community are still in negotiations about what the new logo will look like; and at least for now, the school will hold on to its nickname, Arabs.
According to the LA Times, a civil rights organization called the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee started a letter-writing campaign to argue that the mascot’s images created negative stereotypes about the Arab community. The campaign was launched in November 2013. The group also presented research showing that Coachella was the sole campus in the country with an offensive Arab mascot.
Courtesy American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
This proposed logo may replace Coachella Valley High School's current mascot. It has been approved by the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
“After dialogue with school officials and student leaders — and consultation with the Justice Department — there was agreement that changes were needed,” Abed Ayoub, who is the group’s legal policy director ,told the LA Times. “So the mascot was retired. While the logo is still on the gymnasium floor and murals on campus buildings, we understand that it’s a cash-strapped school district and they promised to take care of that in time.”
Ayoub also told the LA Times, “The school district did not intentionally try to stereotype our community. We respect their ties to the Middle East and the Arab world, and the history behind them.”
School district officials and a representative from the high school were not available for comment, according to the Times.