Is 'Arab' high school mascot offensive or celebratory?

November 8, 2013 4:15:37 AM PST
A group is taking issue with the mascot at a California high school, saying the it's discriminatory.

The American-Aram Anti-Arab discrimination Committee says Coachella Valley High's Arab mascot is offensive.

"It is portraying a stereotypical image, the image of the Arab with the hook nose and the growling face, the belly dancer and the murals on the wall, really portray stereotypical images that are adverse to who the community really is," Abeb Ayou with the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee told television station KESQ.

The school district's superintendent promises work towards addressing the group's concerns.

"I understand what they are talking about being raised in the deep south myself. I understand how things how can be taken I look forward to meeting with them," said Dr. Darryl Adams, superintendent of the Coachella Valley School District.

The school got its mascot because of the link between the community and the Middle East. It began when date palm shoots from Iraq and Algeria were brought there by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the early 1900s. And now, the Coachella Valley produces 95 percent of the dates grown in the U.S., a multi-million dollar industry.

Coachella Valley alums say their mascot is about celebration, not discrimination.

"It wasn't to discriminate, it was to say 'hey, thank you Middle East, Iraq, Algeria, all those areas that donated, well they didn't donate, we bought the date shoots, and now the date industry."

The school has had the mascot since the 1930s. One of the closest towns to Coachella Valley High is named Mecca.

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