California high school criticised for using Arab stereotypes
A high school in California has been criticised for using what some say are damaging stereotypes of Arabs.
Coachella Valley High School is in Southern California, 140 miles east of Los Angeles. Its teams are known as the Coachella Valley Arabs, and its campus buildings are adorned by murals of caricature Arab men in kiffeyeh headscarves riding magic carpets with harem girls.
Most controversially, their mascot's picture is allegedly an "angry Arab" stereotype.
Abed Ayoub, legal and policy director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) told Al-Jazeera America: "The mascot is basically an angry ‘Arab’ head – hooknose, long beard, headscarf and all."
He added: "And what makes it worse is that it's coming from a school district. They’re supposed to be teaching kids to respect other cultures."
He has sent a letter to the school's superintendent, Darryl Adams, describing the mascot as "harmful" and "demeaning" to the Arab-American community, and calling on the branding to be pulled.
Mr Adams said he took the issue seriously and that he believes a compromise is possible.
He said: "It's not so much the name but the depiction of the mascot.
"I'm from Memphis, Tennessee, so I understand how people can look at different symbols and caricatures. I look at it as an educational opportunity for our students and staff to discuss it.
"Things evolve over time, and it's the 21st Century and it's 2013, and this group feels we need to look at it and we will."
The local area has a strong tradition of Arabian association and imagery, stemming from the region's industry growing and selling crops which were brought from the Middle East. For example, 95 per cent of America's dates grow in the valley.
Some of the city's architecture has a Middle Eastern influence, and a nearby town is even called Mecca.
David Hinkle, 69, graduated from the school in 1961 and headed the board of the alumni association for years. He insisted that the high school’s mascot is not demeaning, saying: "I don’t think it's meant to be insensitive. It's been that way for 50 or 60 years."
And Art Montoya, who graduated in 1956, said: "I have heard very few comments on our mascot name. Each time that I heard it, it came from a shallow-minded person that I never took serious."
"We have been Arabs since the 1930s and are proud of it."
Newcastle manager taunted again as his side loses to Stoke
- 1 Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
- 3 The Simpsons death: Creator Al Jean would 'kill himself' before a character like Homer or Lisa
- 4 British man raped while urinating in bushes at Oktoberfest beer festival in Germany
- 5 Pope Francis assures atheists: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven
Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
Isis an hour away from Baghdad - with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
British man raped while urinating in bushes at Oktoberfest beer festival in Germany
George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin wedding: The famous congratulate actor and human rights lawyer after Venice nuptials
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
'Women, walk wherever you want' posters taken down in Stamford Hill following 'unacceptable' signs separating men and women
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- < Previous
- Next >
NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...
£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education are curre...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: You must:- Speak English as a first lang...
£17000 - £18000 per annum: Randstad Education Group: If you are a committed Te...