Southern California district officials have yet to find a resolution to the controversy of a high school mascot that a civil rights group finds offensive and stereotypical.
Coachella Valley High School’s "Arab" mascot -- a mustachioed man with a scraggly beard and hooked nose -- was the topic of discussion during a special board meeting Friday night at the school’s gym.
The controversy began when Abed A. Ayoub, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s director of legal and policy affairs, wrote a letter to the district on Nov. 1 saying that cartoons, mugs and T-shirts of the mascot around the campus, were examples of stereotyping, and should not be tolerated.
Coachella Valley school district Superintendent Dr. Darryl Adams said during the meeting he plans to give Ayoyb a special tour of "locations" near the school in an attempt to show that the mascot was not intended to offend anyone.
Further details about the meeting's conclusions were not clear.
Some took to social media to express their displeasure with the mascot.
“Hey, you Bigots are hilarious! My school and I decided to change our team names to the 'Africans'. Our sister school is going with the name, 'Mexicans'. There mascot is a taco,” someone posted to the Coachella Valley High School Alumni Association Facebook page on Nov. 8.
Ayoub said it was a member who brought the mascot to the group’s attention over a month ago. After gathering opinions from the Arab-American community, many felt the mascot was demeaning and the group decided to act, Ayoub said.
“This is a very sensitive conversation,” Ayoub told NBC4 Friday. “An overwhelming number of individuals thought it was offensive.”
Ayoub said the group would not be at tonight's meeting, but that dialogue stemming from the letter have been open and productive.
“We’re glad that the meeting is taking place and that the issue is actually moving forward,” Ayoub said.
Members of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee are visiting the Thermal, Calif. community next week to “foster an understanding” between the group regarding their feelings about the mascot.
Ayoub said his ultimate hope is that the district moves away from the stereotypical image, whether or not that means scrapping the mascot altogether.
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