THERMAL (CBSLA.com/AP) — A self-described civil rights group is calling on a Southern California high school to get rid of its longstanding Arab mascot that it deems offensive.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) recently sent a letter (PDF) to school district officials about the mascot at Coachella Valley High School, the Associated Press reported.
The mascot — which has been around since the 1920s and chosen to recognize the area's reliance on date farming, traditionally a Middle Eastern crop — "depicts a man with a large nose, heavy beard, and wearing a keffiyeh, or traditional Arab head covering," according to the letter.
Physical Education uniforms and other products offered on the school's website also prominently feature the mascot.
Over the years, the mascot has evolved from a turban-wearing horseman carrying a lance to a standing figure with a snarl on its face and sporting a headscarf, according to the Associated Press.
Now members of the ADC have launched an online petition to get the school to dump the mascot altogether, saying in a statement, "The Arab mascot image is a harmful form of ethnic stereotyping which should be eliminated.
"By allowing continued use of the term and imagery, you are commending and enforcing the negative stereotypes of an entire ethnic group, millions of whom are citizens of this nation."
Superintendent Darryl Adams said the topic will be discussed at a Nov. 21 school board meeting.
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