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Best-Selling Author Calls Out Affluent High School Students For Unruly, Racist Behavior During His Appearance

The affluent school made national headlines for all the wrong reasons following the author’s appearance

Jamie Ford is no stranger to public speaking appearances, but what he witnessed at Highland Park High School in Dallas, Texas, during a recent engagement was so out of line and so bizarre, he felt compelled to publicly share his unpleasant experience with the world via a blog post that quickly went viral.

Speaking to an assembly of freshman and sophomores on a Thursday morning, the best-selling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet endured what he called a “mob” of “a thousand students trolling me” as they clapped and cheered—not in a good way—as he tried to address them.

The most damning act came in the final question of a Q&A in which Ford, a Chinese-American, fielded a question about the internment of over 100,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II. His expectations were sufficiently lowered at this point that he thanked the students for not cheering the wholesale subjugation of a class of American citizens.

Then they clapped and applauded the atrocity.

As Ford said in his blog post, “That showed me more about you than I wanted to know. But there it is, your applause still ringing in my ears.”

Here’s his post in its entirety, taken from Facebook:

Highland Park is known as one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Texas, and the school’s student base is overwhelmingly white, turning what might otherwise have been a story of unruly and undisciplined students into one of the entitled children run amok—among teachers either too overwhelmed or disinterested to bring order to a chaotic scene.

Here are two breakdowns of Highland Park’s student base according to ethnic and economic diversity, via U.S. News & World Report:

U.S. News

U.S. News

The story became national news following Ford’s revelation.

This is not the first time the school has been in the public eye for nefarious acts. In 2015, Highland Park grad Levi Pettit was kicked out of the University of Oklahoma after a viral video surfaced that showed Pettit leading a bus full of fraternity brothers in chant full of racial slurs.

When it came time for apologies, some were genuine, but some shirked any responsibility by claiming that blaming the actions of a few bad apples on the entire school was out of line. However, when it came time for an official apology from the school, Highland Park School District Superintendent Tom Trigg was quick to offer one devoid of caveats and qualifiers. A joint statement made with the school board president reads:

“Dr. Trigg has already spoken with Mr. Ford to offer his sincere apology in private, but we also want to apologize publicly, on behalf of the Highland Park ISD community, for the unacceptable behavior he encountered during his keynote address.”

To Ford’s immense credit, he returned to the school the following day to oversee fiction-writing workshops for three different classes and plans on returning to Dallas later in 2017, though a return to Highland Park High School is uncertain at best.

Speaking to The Dallas Morning News after the incident, Ford offered his thoughts, saying, “I’m not going to generalize the state, or generalize the kids at Highland Park, for that matter. But a mob is a mob; it speaks with its own language.”

We’ll see if a return to an understandably contrite Highland Park High School is in the cards.

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