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Coachella Valley High School under fire for 'Arab' mascot

Advocates have urged a southern California school to change its mascot.
Posted By Kate Stanton   |   Nov. 7, 2013 at 9:08 PM   |   Comments

(UPI) -- The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee penned a November 1 letter asking the Coachella Valley Unified School District to change Coachella Valley High School's mascot, a cartoonish depiction of a large-nosed, single-toothed "Arab."

Some members of the southern California school's booster club claim that the "Arab" mascot, in use since the 1920s, was meant to honor the area's reliance on Middle Eastern crop farming.

But the ADC said that the school's choice of mascot -- and mid-game belly dancing routine -- "are examples of gross stereotyping."

ADC strongly believes that use of the word and such imagery perpetuates demeaning stereotypes
of Arabs and Arab Americans. The "Arab" mascot image is a harmful form of ethnic stereotyping which should be eliminated. By allowing continued use of the term and imagery, you are commending and enforcing the negative stereotypes of an entire ethnic group, millions of whom are citizens of this nation.

District Superintendent Darryl S. Adams said he spoke with members of the ADC and that the school board will discuss the issue at a November 21.

"It's not so much the name but the depiction of the mascot," Adams told CNN. "I'm from Memphis, Tennessee, so I understand how people can look at different symbols and caricatures. I look at it as an educational opportunity for our students and staff to discuss it."

"Things evolve over time, and it's the 21st Century and it's 2013, and this group feels we need to look at it and we will," he added.

Brett Kelman, a Coachella Valley education reporter, shared this image of the school's mascot on his Twitter feed.


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