Coachella Valley High School has retired an Arab mascot the school has used since the 1920s, following complaints from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) in November that the mascot was stereotypical and offensive.
At Friday’s opening season opening football game, the “bearded, snarling mascot with a large hooked nose who wears a headscarf,” was not present after nearly 100 years of its existence at the school, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The belly dancing genie which would normally appear during half-time was also retired.
The school’s Arab mascot was created nearly a century ago as gesture of recognition towards the desert-like region’s reliance on date farming, which is both a signature crop of the Coachella Valley and a traditionally Middle Eastern crop.
“I think anytime you get a face, anyone’s face and any nationality, and you make it into a caricature, there’s always going to be grounds for discrimination,” said alumnus Rich Ramirez in an interview with local NBC News affiliate in Palm Springs KMIR News 6. Ramirez is working with the school district and the ADC to arrive at a resolution.
Along with the ADC’s request to change the appearance of the Arab mascot, the group had also asked for the school’s “Arab” nickname to be changed, however the school district refused, the Chronicle notes. Steps have reportedly been taken to redesign the mascot’s appearance as well as the Arab face on the school’s logo.
Five designs have reportedly been submitted by the school district to the ADC for their approval. The group has taken the greatest liking so far to a design which depicts “a stoic man with a neatly trimmed beard. His face is partially covered in shadow and he’s wearing a white headscarf emblazoned wit the high school’s initial, ‘CV,'” writes the Chronicle.
The Coachella Valley School District is reportedly the only district in the nation that the ADC is talking to regarding the issue surrounding a “stereotypical” mascot.