Coachella Valley High School Urged to Change Controversial 'Arabs' Nickname

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent INovember 7, 2013

DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 30:  The field goal post during the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on December 30, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Coachella Valley High School in Southern California has come under fire recently as a result of its controversial nickname, the "Arabs," and school mascot.

According to CNN's Lateef Mungin, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee has written a letter demanding that the school change the name and replace the mascot. The group had the following response after learning about the school's tradition:

Continued use of the 'Arab' mascot perpetuates demeaning stereotypes of Arabs and Arab Americans. Coachella Valley High School's gross stereotyping cannot be tolerated.

The anti-discrimination group specified the mascot's stereotypical features, which could certainly be perceived as offensive and or discriminatory.

Brett Kelman, who covers education in Coachella Valley for, shared an image of the school's mascot on Twitter:

The mascot depicts a bearded man with a large nose and a classic head covering. 

That's not all, though. According to the group, the mascot is also accompanied by a female dressed as a belly dancer at halftime of the school's various sporting events. 

The letter has since sparked a response from the school district superintendent Darryl Adams, who acknowledged that the district is "sensitive" to the issue and appears open-minded about potentially making changes at Coachella Valley.   

Rich Ramirez, president of the school's alumni association, maintains that neither the nickname nor the mascot are intended to "discriminate" and added that he and others are "proud of being Arabs."

With plenty of support on both sides of this issue, it's hard not to draw comparisons to the NFL's situation regarding the Washington Redskins, who are currently facing a similar controversy regarding their nickname.

Earlier this fall, President Barack Obama spoke about Washington's dilemma, stating that even though he doesn't believe fans intend to offend Native Americans, the franchise should consider making changes to avoid potential discrimination against any group.

Despite the increased attention and controversy, Redskins owner Dan Snyder has continued his firm stance on keeping the Redskins nickname.   

Any potential changes at Coachella Valley will have to wait until Nov. 21, when the school district and the anti-discrimination group are scheduled to meet, per Mungin.


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