Virginia Mom Says Biracial Son's Middle School Taught Him About His Black Identity

·3 min read

A Virginia mom, who is white and Native American, is suing her biracial son’s middle school after alleging that its new curriculum altered his perception of his race and society, according to MSN. Melissa Riley said that after Henley Middle School introduced an “anti-racism” policy, her teen son started seeing himself as a Black man and became more aware of how the world may treat him because of that.

Riley appeared on Fox News’ Jesse Watters Primetime to talk about how the new curriculum changed her son. Riley said that before the curriculum, her son, whose father is Black, didn’t see himself as different from his mostly white classmates, the New York Post reports.

“He looks Hawaiian,” she said on the show while discussing her son’s appearance. “He’s beautiful.”

Now, to Riley’s dismay, she said he’s aware of his Black identity and is starting to see things that “don’t go his way” as racism.

“I asked him to clean the house, [he said] ‘racism,'” Riley told host Jesse Watters.

“You are kidding right?” Watters responded. “Or are you serious?”

“No. I’m serious,” Riley said. “They have totally changed his perspective. They have put him in a box.”

Riley said she believes that the lesson plan is racist itself, arguing that educating students and teachers on institutional racism and biases promotes a “racial essentialist worldview” that encourages racial tension, the Post reports.

She confronted the school about her issues with the curriculum, and they allegedly said that her son has the opportunity to be a “Black spokesman for the Black community” at school. She also said they told her that if he wasn’t comfortable with the conversations they were having in the classroom, he didn’t have to participate.

“When I told them I didn’t think that that would be appropriate, they told me that if he was uncomfortable with the conversations, he and other children of color could go to a safe place during these conversations,” she said.

The Albemarle County School Board took on its anti-racism programming in 2019 and implemented it via a pilot program at Henley Middle School last spring when students returned to in-person school.

The programming saw the addition of several anti-bias lessons and teachings on inclusivity. Last summer, students painted murals with messages that read, “We are equal” and “Happy mind, happy life,” the Post reports.

Teachers were also trained to identify “white privilege” and understand that communication can be a “radicalized tool.” They learned that “white talk” is task-oriented, verbal and impersonal, while “color commentary” is more emotional, nonverbal, personal and process-oriented. But critics said those ideas encourage racial stereotypes.

Riley and her son were plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed last December against the Albemarle County School Board by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a nonprofit conservative legal firm. ADF lawyers said that the school district’s anti-racism policy and curriculum violate parental rights, as well as violate the Virginia Constitution’s free-speech and equal protection clauses.

According to MSN, the lawsuit was dismissed in April. They concluded that the district’s policy was unobjectionable and there was “nothing inherently evil or wrong.”

ADF lawyers are planning on appealing the decision.

“Certainly, we were disappointed with the result, no question about it,” ADF senior counsel Ryan Bangert said, according to the Post. “We’re hopeful that the court above on appeal will see things differently, and we’re confident that it will.”