THERMAL, Calif. -- THERMAL, Calif. (AP) — Attend a Coachella Valley High School football game, and you may be surprised to see belly dancers performing at halftime shows.
Spectators also will find a snarling, black-bearded mascot wearing a headscarf urging fans to root for the team.
The mascot in this Southern California desert town east of Palm Springs that has existed for nearly a century has now drawn the ire of an anti-discrimination group that deems the caricature offensive and stereotypical.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee recently sent a letter to officials at the Coachella Valley Unified School District asking them to get rid of the mascot, according to the Desert Sun (http://mydesert.co/1iPrEX0 ).
"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, " Abed Ayoub, the group's director of legal and policy affairs, wrote in the letter.
The request comes amid mounting pressure for the NFL's Washington Redskins to change its mascot because it's offensive to American Indians.
The Arab mascot has been around since the 1920s and was chosen to recognize the area's reliance on date farming, traditionally a Middle Eastern crop. The nearby community of Mecca also pays homage to the Middle East.
The mascot has evolved from a turban-wearing horseman carrying a lance to a standing figure with a scowl and a headscarf.
Superintendent Darryl Adams said the topic will be discussed at a Nov. 21 school board meeting. He said he was taken aback by the "Arab" name when he first was hired two years ago.
"Being an African-American from the Deep South, I'm sensitive to stereotyping," Adams told the newspaper. "But in this context, when this was created it was not meant in that way. It was totally an admiration of the connection with the Middle East."
Adams said the letter from the anti-discrimination group was the first time the school had been criticized for stereotyping in the past two years.
Some school alumni have defended the mascot, saying it's a matter of pride.
"There was no intention to demean Arabs or be discriminatory in any way," said David Hinkle, a 1961 graduate. "I don't think it's right to decide now that you can't do that anymore. It is political correctness run amok, I would say."
Information from: The Desert Sun, http://www.mydesert.com/
Oprah is racially profiled in a Swiss store
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Paula Deen and the N-word
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Racist tweet from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Yes, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/23/atlanta-journal-constitution-racist-tweet_n_4150222.html?utm_hp_ref=black-voices&ir=Black%20Voices" target="_blank">racist tweets will get you in trouble.</a> AJC posted this, deleted it, and had to apologize.
Jordan Davis shooter rants about killing 'thugs'
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Black college student claims he was arrested for buying designer belt
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/23/trayon-christian-lawsuit-barneys-new-york-nypd_n_4148490.html?utm_hp_ref=black-voices" target="_blank">Barneys New York and the New York Police Department have been slapped with a lawsuit by Trayon Christian</a>, a college student from Queens, who was arrested at the luxury department store in April. "His only crime was being a young black man,” Michael Palillo, Christian's attorney, told The New York Post. The Post reports that the 19-year-old was at the store buying a $350 Salvatore Ferragamo belt, but following the purchase, he was stopped by undercover officers that were allegedly called on by a Barneys sales clerk who believed the transaction was fraudulent.
Young woman hosts "African" themed 21st birthday, posts racist photos
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Black woman allegedly fired from "Hooters" due to her blonde highlights
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Ohio School Apologizes After Attempting To Ban 'Afro-Puffs' And 'Twisted Braids'
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Obama as Hitler Billboard
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Another Black Shopper Accuses Barneys And NYPD Of Racism
Kayla Phillips, a 21-year-old nursing student from Brooklyn, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/24/barneys-racism-kayla-phillips_n_4155176.html" target="_blank">told the Daily News</a> that she was stopped by police after purchasing a $2,500 Céline bag at the store on February 28. After buying the luxury item with the money from a tax return, the woman left the Madison Avenue store. Three blocks away, she says she was surrounded by four undercover police officers -- two white, one African American and one Asian -- at a nearby subway station.
Company Policy Requires Missouri Woman To Cut Her Dreadlocks To Keep Her Job
Ashley Davis, a 24-year-old from St. Peters, Mo.,<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/24/new-company-policy-forces-woman-to-cut-dreadlocks_n_4159369.html?utm_hp_ref=black-voices" target="_blank"> said a change in her company's policy now requires her to cut off her dreadlocks. </a> “I've only been there for two months, and they came up with a policy. I feel like it's degrading,” she said.
Macy's Gets Slapped With Racial Discrimination Lawsuit By Black Shopper
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Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman Halloween Costumes
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Is this sign racist?
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