The Wildcat Voice

The Keaton Jones Controversy: A Bullied Child Loses Sympathy Due to Mom’s Alleged Racism

Bree Collier, Staff Writer

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On December 13, 2017, a video came out of a child named Keaton Jones, who told his story of how he got bullied at his school in Knoxville, Tennessee. His crying and pleas for help went viral and gave him positive attention from a lot of celebrities. However, when old social media posts of his mother indicated possible racism, Keaton lost support and faced negative backlash. 

Keaton Jones is an 11 year old middle school student whose mom released an video of him crying and  talking about how kids at his school bully him because of how he looks. Keaton’s speech made many empathetic and supportive of him and his mother. 

Some of the celebrities that showed their support through social media were Captain America, Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice), Cardi B, Snoop Dogg, Rihanna, Demi Lovato, and Katy Perry. Even the daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the son of President Donald Trump agreed spoke out against Keaton’s treatment.

But old posts and pictures from Keaton’s mom came out and turned the positive situation into a nightmare. The pictures that came out were pictures of Keaton and his family with confederate flags.  A picture of his father also surfaced that showed him with Nazi and other racist tattoos.

The mom said that the pictures, taken on the Fourth of July were meant as a joke.  That they were intentionally trying to look like a stereotypical Southern family, hence the use of all the props. Regarding the father, the mother and Keaton’s older sister came out and said that he is estranged, and the family no longer has contact with him.

Yet, as a result of the images, many people regretted supporting him and started to be mean and talk about his mom–claiming she only shared Keaton’s story for attention. Cardi B and Rhianna, for example, deleted their previous social media tweets supporting him.

Another issue that came up is that Joseph Lam, a 37-year-old resident of New Jersey, started a  Go Fund Me page for Keaton that raised $60,000.  Once the social media posts went public, some wanted the money back and flooded the page with negative comments saying the family did not deserve support.  Lam explained that he has never met the Jones family and started the GoFundMe page because he was touched by the viral video.  

Many people inaccurately assumed that his mom started the account in an effort to make money off of  Keaton’s story.  People also theorized that Keaton getting bullied was karma for his mom’s actions, and claimed to have no sympathy for him or his mother. Lam shut down the GoFundMe page and the comments but posted in support of Keaton: 

As many of you know I paused the donations as well as the comments. As I sit back and read these comments and watched the video again I feel I have to make this update. THIS IS NOT ABOUT THE MOM!! However passing judgement on her before you know her is a form of bullying… I don’t know the family personally…I saw a kid crying not just for himself but for others. To me thats a kid with a heart of gold and deserves praise.”

Lam plans to turn the money collected into a scholarship for Keaton.

Although Keaton faced negative backlash, there are still many that praise the message in his video. In Keaton’s s something that stood out was when he said, “Just out of curiosity, why do they bully? What is the point of it? Why do you find joy in taking innocent people, and finding a way to be mean to them? It’s not OK.” 

Keaton’s innocent message of kindness led many to continue their support of him despite his parents’ alleged racist affiliations. Many concluded that Keaton could not control the way he was raised or the opinions that he was born into.

Actor Jason Alexander, for example tweeted, “I’m reading how bullied child #KeatonJones has a father who is a white supremacist. Don’t see why this should diminish our sympathy for how Keaton was treated. Best way to end hate? Show a better path to the children of haters.”

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The Keaton Jones Controversy: A Bullied Child Loses Sympathy Due to Mom’s Alleged Racism