Over the weekend, a young boy named Keaton Jones became famous. A video of young Keaton circulated on social media. It showed an emotionally difficult scene of a young boy questioning the motives behind bullies. After his mother released the heart-wrenching video, people from throughout the world flocked to his defense. Unfortunately, the initial anti-bullying momentum shifted into a critique of his mother’s social media activity. Keaton’s mother, Kimberly Jones, sparked controversy with information found on her Facebook page. Upon the discovery of Confederate flag images and statements deriding the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, backlash ensued. Worst, Jones defended the use of the Confederate flag during interviews with the media.
Keaton asked his mother to make the video because he feared getting bullied at lunch. In the video, he asked, “…why do they bully? What’s the point of it?” When his mother questioned him, Keaton described getting called names and having milk poured on him.
Evidence has shown bullied children are at a higher risk for numerous dangerous effects including depression, anxiety, isolation, health issues, poor academic performance, and suicide.
Initially, Keaton’s emotional video drew widespread support from celebrities and the general public. Marvel film stars Mark Ruffalo and Chris Evans issued verbal statements of personal support and invited him to the Avengers: Infinite War premiere. Cardi B issued vocal support through social media. Referring to Keaton, Cardi B said on Twitter, “I wish I can give him a hug…”
Chris Brown wrote, “I LOVE YOU BRO!” and hashtagged “#FUCKBULLYING.” In an offer of friendship, Snoop Dogg said, “…love is the only way to beat hate.” T.I. gave an introspective look at the motives of the bullies. He said, “…[they are] just cowards who are too weak to address the hurt, pain & unhappiness in their own miserable lives.” Additionally, Rihanna called the young boy a “hero.” She said, “Thank you young KING for inspiring us all…”
Jones shifted attention from Keaton’s troubles when images from her Facebook page surfaced online. Among them are images of her with the Confederate flag. In a post dated two weeks after the Charlottesville white supremacist rally, she attacked the BLM movements. Jones wrote,
“Dear butthurt Americans, If you aren’t bleeding, no bones are sticking out & you can breathe, STOP crying! For the love, some folks clearly never picked a switch. And before y’all start talking to me about metaphorical, emotional, financial or historical blood & brokenness, Don’t. Join a group.”
In response to the recent public backlash, Jones spoke with ABC News. She confirmed to ABC’s T.J. Holmes the image’s authenticity. Holmes described the mother’s defense. Of it, he said, “…she says, ‘Hey we’re in the South…There are Confederate flags all over the place.'” Despite stating remorse, Jones defended her initial use of the flag. She told ABC News,
“It was meant to be ironic and funny and extreme.”
Keaton’s middle school principal, Greg Clay, admitted to knowing about the bullying. However, he denied the situation’s severity. Clay spoke with USA Today and said, “It’s not as rampant as the video would have you believe.”
After knowledge of Jones’ Confederate defense reached social media, many people changed their opinions.
In response, both Chris Brown and Rihanna pulled their support messages. Rihanna replaced hers with a post about the suicide deaths of two young bullying victims. Chris Brown commented on Jones’ use of Confederate imagery. MMA Star, Joe Schiling, accused Jones of trying to scam him into giving to a GoFundMe account.
Needless to say, this former feel-good story turned dark very quickly.
Featured Image Via YouTube