A single mother of a biracial son is suing his school over its ‘anti-racism’ CRT-style program, saying he now sees things that don’t go his way as racism.
Melissa Riley, from Charlottesville in Virginia, said that her 13-year-old boy never saw himself as different to other students until the Albemarle School District introduced an ‘anti-racism’ program to his middle school last spring.
Speaking to Fox News, she said it was then that he began thinking in terms of race.
‘We didn’t have issues before. He is in eighth grade,’ Riley told Fox News host Jesse Watters on Monday evening. ‘He’s seeing himself just as a Black man. He’s seeing things that don’t go his way as racism. And he is finding safety in numbers now.’
Riley said that her teenage son started to accuse her and others of racism as a way to get out of doing chores and other responsibilities. In one example, she said he once accused her of being racist when she asked him to clean the house.
Melissa Riley, from Charlottesville in Virginia (pictured speaking to Fox News on Monday) said that her 13-year-old boy never saw himself as different to other students until the Albemarle School District introduced an ‘anti-racism’ program to his middle school last spring
‘They have totally changed his perspective. They have put him in a box,’ she said of the curriculum at Henley Middle School in Crozet, Virginia.
She told the news channel that her son is using racism ‘as an excuse because they have told him that that’s how people see him, as a Black man, that the world is against and [he] sees it as a negative now.’
When she confronted the school over the issue, Riley said the school told her that her son could be a ‘Black spokesman for the Black community’ in the school.
The mother said when she pushed back, telling school officials she did not feel that would be appropriate for her son, she was told ‘he and other children of color could go to a safe place during these conversations.’
This, she argued, would be ‘segregation’.
In July 2021, it was reported by the Crozet Gazette that Henley Middle School’s anti-racism curriculum was dividing opinions among teachers and parents.
The local news outlet reported that the curriculum was called ‘Courageous Conversations About Race’ [CCAR], and was launched over several weeks in May and June last year – covering four units on identity, community, bias, discrimination, and social justice. These all had an emphasis on anti-racism.
The Crozet gazette said the introduction of the curriculum had divided opinion, with some parents saying CCAR bore similarities to the divisive Critical Race Theory (CRT) – that teaches the idea that racism is fundamentally embedded in American political and social institutions.
Parents across the country have attended school board meetings in their droves to protest against the introduction CRT in their children’s schools, arguing that such teaching only serves to stoke divisions further.
According to the New York Post, Riley and her son are plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in December by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) against the Albemarle County School Board over its program.
While the Albemarle County School Board does not call the program ‘CRT’ (instead using CCAR), CRT still underpins and informs anti-racism training and teaching programs in schools.
The ADF is a nonprofit conservative legal firm, and is arguing that the district’s anti-racism policy violates Virginia’s constitution and parental rights.
The New York Post reported that the ADF’s lawsuit was dismissed last month by a circuit court judge, who did not object to the district’s policy.
Albemarle Circuit Judge Claude Worrell II declared there was ‘nothing inherently evil or wrong’ about the anti-racism policy.
Lawyers for the ADF have said they would appeal the ruling, with Ryan Bangert, senior counsel with the ADF, saying they were disappointed with the result.
Riley said that her teenage son started to accuse her and others of racism as a way to get out of doing chores and other responsibilities after CRT was introduced at his school (pictured)
Bangert, who is also Riley’s lawyer, told Fox News that the school board was ‘fighting back’. He said: ‘They simply think it’s fine. They think it’s okay. But it’s not okay. It’s never okay.
‘It’s never right for a school to teach kids that they are determined by their race. It’s never okay for a school to tell kids that bigotry should be fought with bigotry and racism should be fought by doubling down on racism. Those things are not okay,’ Banger continued. ‘They’re a violation of students’ civil rights.’
Critical Race Theory in school curriculums has become a point of controversy across the nation, as parents, politicians, students and educators debate the societal theory’s place in the classroom.
Virginia in particular has become a battleground over the issue of CRT being taught in schools, with parents saying they are being disenfranchised by schools implementing such programs without their consent.
Conservatives have taken to using the phrase as a way to describe lessons on racism and ‘equity’ across all grade levels – and have criticized the theory for claiming that the U.S. is built on racial animus, with skin color determining the social, economic and political differences between people.
Critics say it is divisive and paints everyone as a victim or oppressor, while advocates say its teaching is necessary to underline how deeply racism pervades society.
Numerous bills have been passed by states banning the teaching of CRT in schools.
Joe Biden’s new ‘disinformation czar,’ Nina Jankowicz, dismissed concerns about Critical Race Theory in schools as ‘disinformation for profit’ in May – despite parents across the country being worried about the teaching of the philosophy in their children’s classrooms.
Nina Jankowicz is pictured in November 2021, giving a lecture and taking questions at The City Club of Cleveland. She was asked about CRT, and said it was a ‘weaponization of emotions’
Opponents of the academic doctrine known as Critical Race Theory protest outside of the Loudoun County School Board headquarters, in Ashburn, Virginia, in June 2021
Protesters and their children are seen outside the Loudoun County government center in Leesburg, Virginia, on June 12, 2021
‘I live in Virginia, and in Loudoun County that’s one of the areas where people have really honed in on this topic,’ she said.
‘But it’s no different than any of the other hot-button issues that have allowed disinformation to flourish,’ Jankowicz said during a talk at the City Club of Cleveland in 2021, ‘It’s weaponizing people’s emotion.’
Jankowicz was referring to controversy in Loudon County, Virginia, where parents and school administrators have clashed over the place of CRT in county’s curriculums.
The Loudoun School Board has been mired in controversy as Parents have voiced their frustration with the state’s woke school board, saying they did not want their children to be taught CRT.
Multiple school board meetings made headlines after parents were filmed clashing with staff over the decision to teach it – and the board’s approval of a $6 million ‘equity-training’ program last year, as well as the approval of a study into whether it would be appropriate to give reparations to black people.
CRITICAL RACE THEORY: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
The fight over critical race theory in schools has escalated in the United States in recent years.
The theory has sparked a fierce nationwide debate in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests around the country over the last year and the introduction of the 1619 Project.
The 1619 Project, which was published by the New York Times in 2019 to mark 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived on American shores, reframes American history by ‘placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the center of the US narrative’.
The debate surrounding critical race theory regards concerns that some children are being indoctrinated into thinking that white people are inherently racist or sexist.
Those against critical race theory have argued it reduces people to the categories of ‘privileged’ or ‘oppressed’ based on their skin color.
Supporters, however, say the theory is vital to eliminating racism because it examines the ways in which race influence American politics, culture and the law.