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Coachella Valley High School To Consider Dumping ‘Arab’ Mascot

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Coachella Valley High School has long used the "Arab" mascot with traditional Arab head covering, but recently changed its website to reflect an updated mascot. (Photo courtesy (CVUSD)

Coachella Valley High School has long used the “Arab” mascot (l) with traditional Arabic-style head covering. The school recently changed its website to reflect an updated version of the mascot. (Photo courtesy (CVUSD)

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.

Several videos posted on YouTube show the so-called “genie” mascot at Coachella Valley High School football and basketball games performing with Arab-style “belly dancers.”

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.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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