A California high school is being pressured to change its 90-year-old sports team name and mascot — a hook-nosed Arab — after people have accused the school of being racially insensitive.
Administrators at the Coachella Valley Unified School District received a letter this week from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Washington, accusing the school of “gross stereotyping.”
“ADC is appalled at the use of a caricature depicted to be an ‘Arab’ as the official mascot of the high school,” the letter states. “The image of the Coachella Valley High School mascot depicts a man with a large nose, heavy beard and wearing a kaffiay, (often spelled in English as keffiyeh) or traditional Arab head covering.”
“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.”
Coachella’s superintendent, Daryl Adams, says he’ll bring up the issue with the board at their next meeting on Nov. 21, but believes in the context the mascot was created, it wasn’t meant to be offensive. “It was totally an admiration of the connection with the Middle East,” says Adams.
According to the district, the school’s mascot was chosen back in the 1920s to acknowledge the importance of date farming, traditionally found in the Middle East, in the east valley.
Whether or not it was intended to be offensive, the fact is it’s offending people. Sadly, that most likely won’t be enough for the school to break with tradition. Just look at what happened with the Redskins debacle.