UPDATE: In September 2014, the Coachella Valley School District board of trustees approved a decision to change the team name to "Mighty Arabs" and adopt a new logo.


When it comes to nickname and mascot controversy, typically Native Americans and teams like the Indians and Redskins come to mind. But a Southern California high school's longstanding Arab mascot is at the center of its own controversy.

Coachella Valley High School's Arab mascot. Photo: AP

The Coachella Valley High School Arabs have held their name since the 1920s. According to the Associated Press, the name "was chosen to recognize the area's reliance on date farming, traditionally a Middle Eastern crop."

The mascot, which at one point was a turban-wearing horseman, has evolved over the years and is now a standing figure wearing robes and a headscarf.

Calls for a change of the nickname originally came from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. In an open letter, the group said the Arab nickname "perpetuates demeaning stereotypes" and "cannot be tolerated."

The letter also raised concerns about "a female dressed as a belly dancer [who] entertains the mascot by dancing for him" at halftime of sporting events.

Now the Coachella Valley Unified School Board is feeling the heat. The board originally planned to discuss the issue at its regularly scheduled meeting on Nov. 21, but instead will hold a special meeting Friday.

"A mascot chosen to show reverence and honor for the customs of prideful Middle Eastern peoples throughout our region now provokes negative feelings, and this must be addressed," school superintendent Darryl Adams told The Desert Sun in a letter.

According to NPR, the district has a student body that is 99 percent latino.

"It's not so much the name but the depiction of the mascot," Adams told CNN. "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."

Get a grip folks.. so much PC going on an not any teaching.. stop the craziness..and everyone loves the belly dancer and the mad Arab!

Go get a latte' and sooth your hipster souls!
This Arab mascot controversy has gone way too far. The Arab Americans should be proud in the fact that with a 99 % Latino population, a mascot of Middle Eastern heritage was chose to represent this high school.

The problem is that it sounds as if the Superintendent is not going to support keeping the mascot as it currently is.

From the picture above, this is the coolest looking mascot I have ever seen!!!

Rock on Arabs!!!
The grievance industry is pathetic.

Whine some more. Seriously.
If the student body is 99% Latino I think it would come as no surprise that the Arab mascot means nothing to 99% of them. Let today's students choose a mascot that relates to their heritage and today's students. Also, it would not be a crime to change the mascot again after 90+ years if the demographics of the student body have changed again. If the students decide they want it to stay the Arabs so be it.
Sara Mossberg, it seems to me that the Superintendent plans to do exactly what you are requesting; using the situation as an educational experience. Paul and Apollo, have enough honor in yourself to post your whole name if you really believe in your comments. If you read the article closely they were not named the Arabs because of the student population but 'the name 'was chosen to recognize the area's reliance on date farming, traditionally a Middle Eastern crop.'' I can't imagine you don't see the issue with having many peoples only or closest exposure to any 'arab' culture being the mascot called the ANGRY arab.

You're as unsophisticated and uneducated as the organization making the complaints!!
O.K. Henry and Tim, I don't believe in hurting people, but it's a mascot. They should be honored that the school wants to recognize Arabs due to it's farming practices from back in the 20's. If you want to make a teaching point, you should teach that people shoudl stand up for what they want and not give in to PC. PC is a sign of weakness, something our president is teaching too much of to our kids already. Pretty soon you'll be saying we should take the, 'In GOD we Trust' off of our currency because it MAY offend someone whom doesn't believe in GOD. Give me a freakin break.
In that case, we'd better do away with -The Fighting Irish, The Battling Bishops, The Fighting Scots, The Vikings, The Americans, The Canadiens, The Canucks, the Friars.....I'm sure there are more. Somebody can always find some reason to be 'offended' by almost anything, even when no offense is offered. If we go far enough, we could ban Porky Pig and Elmer Fudd from the cartoon screen for being offensive to those with speech impediments. This is PC run amok.
I think the Arab American community is more offended by the DEPICTION of the 'Arab' than by the name. Should we teach the kids that that is how all Arab Americans dress? And if they have a friend who is Arab American, when they visit their house, there will be a belly dancer in the living room?
Wouldn't it be easier if we picked harmless mascot names? Tigers? Lions? etc.
Why do we have to offend anyone? Because that's how it's always been done? In the name of tradition, we should risk offending someone's heritage.
And as another reader said in a related article, I think the arguments would be far different if this 99% Latino school picked 'All American Crackers' as their new nickname.
Before any general statement can be made about stereotyping or offending someone because of the mascot, you have to get to visit the area and get to know the people.

Living in the Greater Los Angeles area, I had business to conduct about 30 miles away from Coachella, so I decided to drive to this town. I had lunch in the local restaurant. As I entered the restaurant, I was greeted with a welcoming Hello. I got the chance to talk to the people, and I have to say, I felt a deep affection for the people of this town.

Not once was any offensive or harmful language was used in the conversations I had or overheard.

Although it was a small group of people that I interacted with, these people are genuinely genuine. If people are offended because of the portrayal of the mascot, they are looking for something to be offended by.

It would be a shame to change the school name or the mascot in order to remain PC.