COACHELLA, Calif. - UPDATE: Mari Tarango confirms that CVUSD will hold a special board meeting Friday night to discuss the Coachella Valley High School Arab mascot. They are under fire by a national anti-discrimination group, and Tarango, spokesperson for CVUSD says they have been invited to attend.
The meeting, is open to the public, and will be at 6pm on Friday night at Coachella Valley high School in the library. No decision is expected at Friday night's meeting, and they are also set to bring it up again at the regular meeting scheduled for November 21st.
ORIGINAL STORY: The Coachella Valley High School Arabs mascot is under fire from a national organization. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee sent a letter to Coachella Valley Unified School District Superintendent Darryl Adams on Monday asking for the school to drop its mascot.
The letter states that the school's mascot "perpetuates demeaning stereotypes of Arabs and American Arabs." "That logo is a very stereotypical logo," said Abed Ayoub, the ADC's director of legal and policy affairs. "It's very offensive to many Arabs and Arab Americans."
The group also opened a petition today asking for the school to "drop the mascot."
Dr. Adams and the district are not taking the concerns lightly. "We're very sensitive to that and how we're going to work to make sure, maybe sometimes you should have some consultations when we're working with other groups and cultures," said Dr. Adam.s
The letter says the group takes offense to several things: "The image of the Coachella Valley High School mascot depicts a man with a large nose, heavy beard, and wearing a Kaffiay, or traditional Arab head covering. It has come to our attention that during sporting events and school functions, a student dressed as this figure, makes an appearance." The ADC says it's just too much. "Bombers, billionaires or belly dancers," said Ayoub. "There's a lot more to Arabs, Arab Americans and the Arab culture and heritage then what's being depicted by this high school. "
The Coachella Valley alumni association said this is not the first time the mascot has come under scrutiny. They also disagree with the claims of the ADC. They believe the mascot honors the Arab culture and its role in the east valley. "It wasn't to discriminate, it was to say 'hey, thank you Middle East, Iraq, Algeria," said Rich Ramirez, president of the Coachella Valley high school alumni association. "We bought it from them, the date shoots, and now the date industry."
Conversations between the ADC and the district are already underway. CVUSD plans to discuss the issue at its meeting on November 21. For Ramirez and other alumni and students, there's no budging. "This is the way it is," said Ramirez. "This what we like to do. And we're proud of being Arabs."