White Mom Complains Her Black Son Has Been Changed by Critical Race Theory

A white mother from Virginia has said she plans to sue her Black son's school in Virginia, claiming he had been influenced by classes on critical race theory and was now having racial issues.

Fox News' Jesse Watters spoke to the mother, Melissa Riley, during his show on Monday night. Watters asked how being taught about critical race theory at the Henley Middle School in Crozet, Virginia, had influenced Riley's son and how it had shifted their relationship.

Riley, who told the Fox News host that her son's father is Black and she is white, said that her son was now having issues with race.

"We didn't have any issues before, he is in 8th grade, they introduced this critical program and now he is having racial issues," she said. "He is seeing himself just as a Black man, he is seeing things that don't go his way as racism, he is finding safety in numbers."

Critical race theory is an educational issue that has divided conservatives and liberals, as it teaches that racism does not come just from individuals, but also that a country's legal and other systems are inherently racist.

Clips of Riley's conversation with Watters has also gone viral on Twitter and has been viewed over 900,000 times.

"Critical race theory is being taught in American classrooms and it is damaging how our children view the world," Watters said in his introduction of the segment. "Melissa Riley saw the radical curriculum at her 13-year-old son's middle school in Virginia. [Her son] had never talked about his race or racial issues until the school forced it on him. Melissa is now suing his school, claiming they brainwashed her son."

Watters questioned whether Riley's son would use racism as an excuse if he gets a bad grade or is rejected by a girl at school, and Riley said she believed he would.

While laughing, Riley also said that when she asks her son to clean the house he will refuse, claiming racism.

She added: "[The school] has completely changed his perspective, they have put him in a box.

"He is using [racism] as an excuse because they have told him that is how people see him, as a Black man, that the world is against him and he shows it as a negative now."

Riley said that she spoke to the school when she realized that a program focusing on race was being introduced in the school.

"The school told me that [my son] could be a Black spokesperson for the Black community," she said. "When I told them I don't think 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. That is segregation."

Black teenager
A white mother in Virginia has sued her 8th grade son's school, claiming that the school's teaching of critical race theory has changed her son, who is black. Stock image of a Black teenager working in a classroom. Getty Images

When Watters asked Riley what her son's father, who is African-American, thought of his son's behavior and the school's curriculum, she replied, "I'm a single mom, so I'm teaching him everything."

Kendall Thomas, a law professor at Columbia University and co-editor of Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement, told Newsweek: "CRT maps the nature and workings of 'institutional racism.'"

"CRT challenges us to see that racial injustice in America is not, and has never been, just a problem of isolated instances of individual bias and private prejudice which we can solve by enacting 'color-blind' laws and policies," Thomas said. "CRT tracks the ways in which the 'color-blind racism' of today's post-civil rights era entrenches racial disparities, discrimination and disadvantage among Black, Brown and Native American communities without ever explicitly using the language of 'race.'"

Henley Middle School Communications Officer Phil Giaramita spoke to Newsweek about the incident and said Riley had already been unsuccessful in her lawsuit.

"Ms. Riley did indeed sue the school division. She was part of a small group of parents that filed a suit earlier this year," Giaramita said.

"The suit was dismissed by the court in a ruling that supported the school division's anti-racism policy."

Update 05/18/22, 2:36 a.m. ET: This article was updated with comment from Phil Giaramita