Last week, Coachella Valley High School came under fire for the name of its mascot — the Arab. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee sent a letter to the school, complaining about the way the mascot depicts people of Arab descent. The complaint made the school national news.
At Coachella Valley High School last Friday — a game day — instead of getting ready for kickoff, students were stopped by television camera crews as they left campus. One by one, in their team jerseys and painted faces, they defended their mascot.
“It’s pure pride, you know?” said Sergio Ortega, a freshman at the school. He plays on the school football team. For him, the Arab mascot is all he knows. “My parents, my grandparents, they’ve been Arabs, and I don’t see nothing wrong with it! It’s just to show us that we’re strong. We’re strong Arabs, you know?”
But here’s the thing; they’re not Arabs. Or even Arab-Americans. The student body of Coachella Valley Unified School District — and most of the entire region — is 99 percent Latino.