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'Many of my friends and I have a lot of trauma from that class.' Divine Child students speak out about racism in wake of controversial church sermon

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Posted at 5:50 PM, Sep 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-18 18:24:51-04

DEARBORN, Mich. (WXYZ) — One bad decision? Or an example of the culture?

On Monday we told you a Dearborn Catholic Church apologized after a priest spoke about Black Lives Matter from the pulpit.

Metro Detroit church issues apology after pastor compares 9/11 attacks to BLM protests

“It’s anti-Christian, it’s anti-family, it’s evil,” the priest said at a 4:30 mass on Saturday, comparing the group Black Lives Matter to Al-Qaeda and the protests to the terrorist attacks of September 11th.

The church responded, saying that homily was not scriptural or pastoral and “that at Divine Child we love and respect all persons.”

Since then, a number of people have reached out to 7 Action News reporter Jennifer Ann Wilson saying the problem at Divine Child Church and School goes beyond that one homily, that it’s an environment that allows racism to thrive.

We heard from about a dozen alumni of the school and a couple of current parishioners who say Divine Child has a widespread problem with racial and cultural insensitivity at best, and sometimes straight-up racism.

They wanted to remain anonymous out of concern for family members attending the school.

While many people say it is a culture that allows racism to thrive, one particular teacher’s name comes up frequently, after Monday’s story focused on one homily given by one priest at Divine Child that the church denounced and apologized for.

It started with an email:

“As an African American regarding recent events, I wish I could say the words/actions of the priest where an isolated event but in reality, it is a culture of Divine Child Parish.”

Then came more emails, some with links and screenshots of tweets. One tweet calls Kamala Harris a pig, another labels Rashida Talib's words and actions "swinish”.

Another tweet to Talib - "You aren't going to be happy until Detroit is as volatile and dangerous as parts of the Middle East."

Those are just a couple of the many political tweets written from an account with the same name as a theology teacher at Divine Child - Chris Boileau. This same account engaged in an intense Twitter exchange with former students last Friday.

One former student tweeting to Boileau - when discussing terrorism in class she looked at him and asked “you wouldn’t kill me would you Moe?”

Another student tweeting “you constantly felt the need to bring attention to the fact that I was Muslim in front of the entire class."

She told me over the phone that she would be put on the spot and grilled about Sharia Law.

A student also tweeted to Boileau: “And it wasn’t just you; there were frequent instances where I’d hear students make Islamaphobic remarks similar to my face and behind my back and it would go ignored by many in the staff and administration alike.“

Another former student in an email writes about having a class with theology teacher Chris Boileau, saying she “repeatedly made homophobic, transphobic, sexist, and at some points very racist ‘jokes’.”

“I frequently told the school’s administration at the time about her behavior and it was often brushed off as though they didn’t believe me about how bad it was or just didn’t care. I was often yelled at and/or mocked multiple times a week by Boileau when I would point out how harmful her comments were. Many of my friends and I have a lot of trauma from that class.”

Of the dozen or so former students I have heard from, only one said,“As a Muslim, I was always given the utmost respect and acceptance from the staff and administration.”

Today in a letter, Divine Chid High School announced that Christine Boileau is no longer serving as a teacher. Going on to say “we take seriously the responsibility to build and maintain a safe and supportive learning environment”

Community Update - September 18 by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd

A follow-up letter to Saturday’s homily was also sent out acknowledging that the administration realizes the hurt goes beyond just this one message and says they will work to grow as a community in love.

Parish Update Homily Sept 12 by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd

DCS Communication 9.14 _ 2020-2021 by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd