THERMAL, CALIFORNIA – A California high school has retired a controversial Arab mascot.
The bearded, snarling mascot with a large hooked nose who wears a head scarf did not appear at Coachella Valley High School’s season opening football game on Friday. A belly-dancing genie that often appears with the mascot during halftime was also retired.
The Arab mascot has existed since the 1920s to recognize the desert region’s reliance on date farming, a traditionally Middle Eastern crop. It came under fire last November when the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee sent a letter to the school district complaining that the mascot was stereotypical.
The district refused to change the school’s “Arabs” nickname, but it agreed to redesign the Arab face on the school logo.
The district submitted five designs to the civil rights group last spring, and the group has favored a design depicting a stoic man with a neatly trimmed beard. His face is partially covered in shadow and he’s wearing a white headscarf emblazoned with the high school’s initial, “CV.”
The school’s current logo of the snarling mascot is still on the school’s welcome sign, the school website and a large mural on the campus gym.