Calif. HS Ditches ‘Fighting Arab’ Mascot, Genie Companion

Coachella Valley High School will still be the “Arabs,” but the school’s longtime mascot is no more. After complaints from the America-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee, covered by Al Jazeera America, USA Today, and other outlets, Coachella Valley Unified School District decided to retire the mascot — a hook-nosed man with beard, mustachio, and keffiyeh (headscarf) – and his companion, a midriff-bearing genie.

Here is the pair raising school spirit:

A district committee has proposed a redesigned mascot that has met with approval from the America-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. The new figure — a bearded man with keffiyeh, his face half-masked with shadow — would replace the version of the mascot that appears throughout the school: on its welcome sign, website, and elsewhere. It has not yet been approved for use, however.

A draft of the proposed design:

According to the local Desert Sun, students and alumni have voiced their support for the traditional mascot, noting that it has deep roots at the school:

Coachella Valley High has used an Arab mascot since the 1920s, when the school unveiled a drawing of a lance-wielding horseman with a striped headscarf. In the ’50s, the school traded the horseman for two new drawings: a standing figure with a scimitar and the angry face of an older man wearing a fez. In the ’80s, the angry face swapped the fez for a headscarf, becoming the school logo that exists today. This logo was used for decades before anyone objected. . . .

The school introduced its “Arab” identity more than 90 years ago to celebrate how the east valley date industry created a spiritual link with the Middle East.

Ian Tuttle — Ian Tuttle is the former Thomas L. Rhodes Journalism Fellow at the National Review Institute.

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