California high school drops mascot
criticized by Arab-American group
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[September 02, 2014]
(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,"
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
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.
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"This school district did not have mal intent," Ayoub said. "It was
something that unfortunately happened with probably little
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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