Oh PC debate, how I love you. Here we are in the Coachella Valley (southern California, between Los Angeles and San Diego), where Coachella Valley High School just played its first football game of the season on Friday. But conspicuously absent were the school’s costumed mascots, the Arab and his belly-dancing partner, called Genie. See above.
The Arab caused quite a ruckus this past fall when at least two Arab anti-defamation groups protested the mascot, saying that he promoted harmful stereotypes. So in a decision first drafted this past November and made official on Friday, the school district voted to oust the scowling, hook-nosed character, but allow the school to keep the nickname. It will also update its Arab logo, which as of now still looks like this:
The Arab mascot has existed since the 1920s to recognize the desert region’s reliance on date farming, a traditionally Middle Eastern crop. It came under fire last November when the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee complained that the mascot was stereotypical.
The anti-discrimination group has also approved the design of a new logo, which depicts an Arab character, but with with stoic features. The old logo is still plastered all over campus.
So I guess what’s being taught to the kids who attend this school is that half measures are better than no measures at all. Example: my former high school, the Sequoia High Cherokees (northern Calif.) dropped its costumed, horse-riding Cherokee mascot about a decade ago, and replaced him with a Raven. But the nickname “Cherokees” was allowed to stay. Compromise is something we need in U.S. Congress these days, but is it healthy in a school setting? Are we saying that the Arab mascot is bad, or good? Is it fostering a negative stereotype or isn’t it? The school district seems reluctant to make a definitive ruling, attempting instead to try and please everyone.
Come on Coachella Valley, you’re located in southern California, land of freeways. Pick a lane.