California high school drops mascot criticized by Arab-American group

Mon Sep 1, 2014 9:05pm EDT

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(Reuters) - A California high school has retired its Middle Eastern-themed mascot and accompanying belly dancers and redrawn its logo after criticism from Arab-Americans that they played on harmful stereotypes, a group advocating for the change said on Monday.

Coachella Valley High School agreed to use a new image of a stoic-looking Arab man to represent its sports teams, dubbed "the Arabs," said Abed Ayoub, a spokesman for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which worked with the school to choose the new logo.

The new image of a man wearing a traditional Arabic head scarf and an indiscernible facial expression, will replace the hooked-nosed, growling man that adorned various spaces, including the basketball court, at the high school for decades.

"The old logo was very offensive. It was more of a caricature," Ayoub said.

The school also stopped using its mascot, who would appear at games dressed in Arab garb, and students dressed as belly dancers.

Friday's football game was the first time the old mascot was noticeably absent, but the decision to use the new image was made in midsummer, Ayoub said.

The ADC complained in a letter to the school last November about the logo.

Ayoub said the Coachella Valley Unified School District had been responsive and willing to collaborate on a revised logo.

The school, which opened in 1910 in the Coachella Valley town of Thermal, 125 miles southeast of Los Angeles, originally used the Arab logo as a nod to the region's date-growing industry, because the date palm is associated with the Middle East.

"This school district did not have mal intent," Ayoub said. "It was something that unfortunately happened with probably little oversight."

The Coachella Valley school district was not immediately available for comment on Monday.

The district is set to make an announcement with the ADC about the logo change later in the month, Ayoub said.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Comments (12)
Dumbace wrote:
This is getting old. These schools are glorifying and are proud of the mascots. They are not using them in any was as a racist vendida against other races.
Anyone who complains about this is a racist. They want segregation of races. They dont want to be shown in a positive light and glorified.

Sep 01, 2014 10:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Chucki_Get wrote:
Long live Amerika!

Sep 02, 2014 2:01am EDT  --  Report as abuse
and what will they do when the arabs demand something else, and again, and again?

Sep 02, 2014 7:12am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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