Oakland County district vows to eradicate racism, then guest speaker uses ‘antisemitic rhetoric’

‘Our students are watching us,’ Bloomfield Hills superintendent says in apology letter to school district

The Bloomfield Hills Public Schools Schools Board of Education passed a resolution in June 2020 to eradicate racism.

Three years later, the district fell short of that mark when Bloomfield Hills High School hosted a speech by a pro-Palestinian activist, and later had to apologize for what its superintendent called “antisemitic rhetoric.”

Huwaida Arraf was invited to speak at Bloomfield Hills High School earlier this month. During that speech she disparaged Israel.

Arraf called Israel an oppressor and apartheid state, according to ClickOn Detroit.

“The speaker discussed the conflict in Gaza from their own personal political perspectives and experience,” Principal Lawrence Stroughter explained in a statement.

Stroughter apologized for any harm done by Arraf’s comments and said the district denounces speech “that targets individuals or groups based on religion.”

Then superintendent Patrick Watson issued a follow-up statement.

“In a school of ‘No Place for Hate,’ antisemitic rhetoric was shared with our students and we recognize its devastating impact,” Watson wrote. “For this we are very sorry.”

One of the district’s corrective measures moving forward is to “to plan and implement staff training to identify antisemitism and Islamophobia at its core and how to help students navigate these issues.”

In a statement to ClickOn Detroit, Arraf defended her assembly speech.

“It’s unfortunate that certain interest groups are now harassing the BHHS administration and student organizers over my participation. These groups do a great disservice to our students’ education,” Arraf said.

“These are the same forces that have been working to shut down Palestinian voices for decades, enabling Israel’s human rights abuses. They are the same forces that try to paint the issue as one of Jews vs. Palestinians. It’s not. It’s one of freedom, human rights and equality vs. occupation, colonization, and oppression, and tens of thousands of Jews stand together with Palestinians on the side of freedom, human rights, and equality.”

Arraf is not the only divisive public figure Bloomfield Hills has promoted. A document on the district’s website, called “Conservations with Your Children About Race,” recommends Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo.

Kendi disparaged U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett for adopting Black children, calling Barrett one of many colonizers who view their black children as “savage ... props in their lifelong pictures of denial, while cutting the biological parents of these children out of the picture of humanity.”

DiAngelo is famous for her book White Fragility, in which she calls white supremacy “the bedrock of our society and institutions.”

“Our students are watching us,” superintendent Watson wrote to conclude his statement on the assembly. “It is our responsibility to take accountability for this, apologize, and take steps toward healing and doing better.”

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.